Professor Rudnicki's research has been in the area of inelastic behavior and failure of solids, particularly, geomaterials. He has been especially interested in the development of localized deformation and in the effects of coupling between deformation and fluid diffusion with applications to fault instability, quantification of energy radiation from earthquakes, and environment- and resource-related geomechanics.

Professor Rudnicki earned his Bachelor's (1973), Master's (1974) and PhD (1977) degrees at Brown University. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Caltech in Geophysics, he joined the Theoretical and Appplied Mechanics Department at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1978. In 1981 he moved to Northwestern University where he is now Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (2008), the Engimeering Mechanics Institute (Am. Soc. Civil Eng., 2013) and the American Rock Mechanics Association (2017). He received the Society of Engineering Science Medal in 2014, the Daniel C. Drucker Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 2011, the Brown Engineering Alumni Medal in 2008, and the Maurice A. Biot Medal in 2006 from the American Society of Civil Engineers "For his fundamental contributions to the mechanics of porous media and its applications to rock mechanics and geophysics". In 1977 he received the Award for Outstanding Research in Rock Mechanics from the U.S. National Committee on Rock Mechanics for the paper "Conditions for the localization of deformation in pressure sensitive dilatant materials" (with J.R. Rice), J. Mech. Phys. Solids, 23, 371 394, 1975. He was the Advisor of the year in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science in 2009 amd in 2010 he was named to Honor Roll for Faculty and Adminstrators by Associated Student Government of Northwestern University.

He has a held a variety of editorial and committee assignments. He was a member (1997 - 2010) and Chairman (2008 - 2010) of the Geosciences Council for the Dept. of Energy Basic Energy Sciences, and a member of the Advisory Council of the Southern California Earthquake Center (2005 -2010). He was an Associate Editor of the Journal of Applied Mechanics (1988-1994) and the Journal of Geophysical Research (1986-1988). He is currently a member of Editorial Advisory Board of the International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics.