James Robert Rice (born December 3, 1940) is a mechanician who has made fundamental contributions to various aspects of solid mechanics. Two of his early contributions are the concept of the J-integral and an explanation of how plastic deformations localize in a narrow band. In recent years, Rice has focused on the mechanical processes involved in earthquakes.
Rice received his B.S. in Engineering Mechanics from Lehigh University in 1962. He went on to receive his M.S. and Ph.D in Applied Mechanics from Lehigh in 1963 and 1964, respectively. He taught at Brown University from 1964 until 1981, when he accepted a position at Harvard University. In 1994, he received the Timoshenko Medal "for seminal contributions to the understanding of plasticity and fracture of engineering materials and applications in the development in the computational and experimental methods of broad significance in mechanical engineering practice". He was also awarded The Franklin Institute's Francis J. Clamer Medal in 1996. Since 2001, he has served as the Mallinckrodt Professor of Engineering Sciences and Geophysics in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In 2008, he was awarded the Panetti-Ferrari International Prize for Applied Mechanics.