James Hunt, Ph.D., emeritus professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), and former Research Translation Core co-leader for the UC Berkeley Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center, passed away on February 20 after a brief illness. Hunt served on the faculty at UC Berkeley for 33 years, where he was widely admired by students and faculty for both his professional contributions and his kindness.
An expert in groundwater transport of organic contaminants, Hunt initiated and led a research project at the UC Berkeley SRP Center to understand how perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel waste, moves through soil into groundwater. His work demonstrated how dense contaminants sink through an aquifer and diffuse into what is called a lower-permeability confining layer and ultimately into groundwater.
Fellow UC Berkeley SRP Center co-leader David Sedlak, Ph.D., spoke warmly of Hunt. "Jim was my faculty mentor and role model," he said. "He taught me the importance of being a critical thinker, especially when it seems like the accepted approach to solving a problem doesn't seem to be working. Leading by example, he also showed us the importance of selflessness and putting the interest of students first. We miss him."
Jim served the campus in numerous leadership roles, including service as a member of the Budget Committee and Divisional Council and as associate vice provost for Academic Planning and Facilities. He also directed the Berkeley Water Center and the Institute for Environmental Science and Engineering. He was appointed to the Lawrence E. Peirano Endowed Chair in 1999, which he held until his retirement in 2013.