As a former vice-president of a major engineering firm and independent consulting engineer, his experience and interests include geotechnical engineering, soil dynamics, earthquakes, reliability, computational mechanics, finite element analysis, and engineering management. His geotechnical engineering work has included earth dam analysis and design, evaluation of flow through porous media and earth dams, nuclear power plants, solid waste landfills, foundation engineering, offshore facilities, mooring facilities, and pipelines. He has performed geotechnical analyses for several on-site nuclear spent fuel storage facilities and for the stability of mining waste piles. He is the co-author and co-editor of a book on Numerical Methods in Geotechnical Engineering, and co-author of books on Productivity Tools for Geotechnical Engineers, and Reliability and Statistics in Geotechnical Engineering. He was involved in the design, evaluation, and construction of a large number of nuclear power plants and other facilities for energy generation and distribution. In 2002-2003 he served as the Chairman of the National Academy of Engineering committee that reviewed the status of the Boston Central Artery/Tunnel Project (the “Big Dig”) and proposed management changes to expedite its completion. He has been a member of the NAE Committee on New Orleans Regional Hurricane Projects and the committee to review the Louisiana Coastal Restoration Project. He has chaired the NRC committee to review the Bureau of Reclamation’s procedures for security of dams and of the committee to review the federal government’s procedure and guidelines (P&G) for project development. He is a member of the NAE committee reviewing the current procedures for evaluating seismically induced liquefaction of soils. He is a Distinguished Member of ASCE and an elected to member of the National Academy of Engineering, where he has served as Chairman of the Civil Engineering Section. He delivered the Terzaghi Lecture of the ASCE in 2003 and the 2012-2013 Geo-Institute Cross USA Lectures.
- Urzua, A., Dobry, R., Christian, J. () "Is Harmonic Averaging of Shear Wave Velocity or the Simplified Rayleigh Method Appropriate to Estimate the Period of a Soil Profile?," Earthquake Spectra
- Christian, J., Urzua, A. () "Anomalies in Pseudostatic Seismic Stability Analysis," ASCE Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
- Urzua, A., Ladd, C.C., Christian, J. (2016) "New Approach to Analysis of Consolidation Data at Early Times," ASCE Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering 142:10
- Christian, J., Baecher, G.B. (2016) "Sources of Uncertainty in Liquefaction Triggering Procedures," GeoRisk 10:4 pp. 242-250
- Kavazanjian, E., Andrade, J.E., Arulmoli, K., Atwater, B.F., Christian, J., Green, R., Kramer, S.L., Mejia, L., Mitchell, J.K., Rathje, E., Rice, J.R., Wang, Y. (2016) "State of the Art and Practice in the Assessment of Earthquake-Induced Soil Liquefaction and Its Consequences," National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine pp. 286 pp
- Baecher, G.B., Christian, J. (2016) "The evolution of risk-informed geotechnical engineering," University of Minnesota 64th Annual Geotechnical Engineering Conference