Raised so far
Oldrich Hungr, PhD, PEng/PGeo, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences passed away unexpectedly on August 10, 2017. He was a leading expert in landslide hazard assessment with a long legacy of passing on his knowledge through teaching, supervision and research. Oldrich was a highly accomplished international scientist as well as a valued colleague and mentor.
Oldrich was born in Prague, Czech Republic, where he spent his youth biking, skiing, kayaking and mountain climbing, all sports which he continued to pursue throughout his life. He met his wife, Klema, as a rope partner in a mountaineering school in the High Tatra Mountains. His academic pursuits began in Prague, where he studied Civil Engineering at the Czech Technical University. Amid the uncertainty of the spring of 1969, when the Iron Curtain closed the Czech borders, Oldrich and Klema emigrated to Canada.
In Canada, Oldrich completed his undergraduate and master’s degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Ottawa, after which he and Klema moved to Toronto where Oldrich worked for the Trow Group. They then moved to Edmonton in 1977 where Oldrich did his PhD under Dr. N. R. Morgenstern, thus initiating his expertise in landslide hazards. During this time, their two sons, Pierre and Nikolai were born. From there, they made their final move to Vancouver where, in their first few years, their daughter Clara was born and they renovated two houses. Oldrich also started a software company, well known for developing the slope stability and dynamic runout programs CLARA, DAN and DAN3D. In 1996, Oldrich joined the Earth and Ocean Sciences department at UBC, where he stayed until his retirement in 2016.
Oldrich’s adventurous career culminated in an outstanding number of accomplishments. Some highlights include developing new techniques for slope stability analysis and the modelling of landslide behaviour, mentoring over 40 graduate students, being a favoured teacher of multiple undergraduate and graduate courses in the EOAS department, and publishing over 170 articles, 15 book chapters and four edited books. He was a sought-after speaker, invited to teach courses and give lectures across international institutions. In addition to his academic work, Oldrich never lost touch with his consulting roots, maintaining an active role in over 1,000 assignments in 35 countries, and being a member of national and international review boards. He also received a number of awards, from the UBC teaching award to international awards recognizing his geotechnical contributions (for example the 2008 Schuster Medal and the 2015 Varnes Medal).
While being hugely accomplished, Oldrich was also humble and approachable. He will be remembered for his engaging storytelling, unique sense of humour and practical insights. His remarkable life is a testament to the inertia of passion and integrity, to a man who found a home in the geotechnical community and strove to make it a home for others.
The impact of your support
In memory of Oldrich’s life, the Oldrich Hungr Memorial Award has been established to support and encourage future generations of geotechnical engineers.
Your gift will pay tribute to Oldrich, and help continue his legacy by supporting students with the same drive and passion for his line of study in the geotechnical field.