VICKSBURG, Miss. --
The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center mourns the loss of Dr. Jim O’Daniel following a fatal cycling accident in Greenwood, Miss., August 3.
O’Daniel, 50, was participating in the 12th annual Bikes, Blues and Bayous cycling event when he was hit by a pickup truck at the intersection of U.S. 82 and Mississippi 7.
The Clinton resident was a beloved and highly respected research structural engineer assigned to ERDC’s Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory in Vicksburg and an avid cyclist in his off-time. He is remembered fondly by his co-workers.
“This weekend we lost a great colleague, friend and engineer, Dr. Jim O’Daniel,” said Dr. David Pittman, director of ERDC. “Jim was one of our top experts in his field, a world-class talent with a world-class heart. Jim was passionate about his job and biking. We will miss Jim very much ⸺ both his talent and his passion for life and for others. We pray for his family, his friends, and his ERDC team. May he rest in peace.”
O’Daniel was a major contributor to the success of ERDC in the research areas of vulnerability of structures and computational mechanics. As a research structural engineer, he played a major role in keeping ERDC at the forefront of research in the realms of computational structural mechanics and computational fluid dynamics as applied to blast, impact and penetration scenarios. O’Daniel developed unique analytical methods, especially in the development and application of computational mechanics to address these problems.
"The ERDC family and our community has tragically lost a true friend and engineer leader, said Bartley Durst, director of GSL. He was a great guy, very humble and sincere. Jim was a world-class leader in his field. He loved his work, and his research has made a tremendous impact on our country. Jim's legacy will live on in the ERDC and across our nation.”
O’Daniel is the recipient of the 2015 Herbert D. Vogel Engineer Award, the highest local honorary award granted by ERDC. He was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Shock and Vibratory Effects Committee. He received an ERDC Director’s R&D Achievement Award, chaired sessions at several conferences, received a Shock and Vibration Information Analysis Center (SAVIAC) Director’s Award, and facilitated a discussion on verification and validation at a Shock and Vibration Symposium.
O’Daniel earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master’s and doctorate from Penn State University in civil engineering with a minor in engineering mechanics.
He recently posted on Facebook: “Twenty years ago today I started a new job at the Engineer Research and Development Center (then the Waterways Experiment Station), moving to Vicksburg, Mississippi. Changed my life and I’m still here. Because of it I started racing sailboats and then bought a bike..... On top of it all, I absolutely love the job. Brings new amazing things into my life almost daily. Not all those who wander are lost.”
O’Daniel is survived by his father, Michael O’Daniel; mother, Fran Waters Griffis, and sisters, Cathy O’Daniel Fuller, Megan O’Daniel and Nancy O’Daniel Zimmer.