- Rock mechanics and rock engineering: from testing to numerical/analytical modeling, developing a variety of innovative approaches to fracture propagation in jointed/fractured rock, stochastic representation of fracture patterns, and flow in individual fractures and fractured rock masses.
- Engineering geology: developing practical risk assessment procedures for landslides.
- Underground construction: designing and analyzing tunnels and developing computerized decision tools.
- Engineering education: rethinking and revising civil engineering curriculum.
- General geotechnical engineering: advancing research beyond the areas of specialization.
- 2006 Outstanding Contributions to Rock Mechanics award to Herbert H. Einstein for overall contributions to rock mechanics and rock engineering by the American Rock Mechanics Association.
- 1999 Müller Lecture award to Herbert H. Einstein for outstanding contributions to rock mechanics research by the International Society for Rock Mechanics.
- 1993 Rocha Medal to Olivia Reyes for best doctoral thesis in rock mechanics by the International Society for Rock Mechanics.