Buffalo, Berkeley and Illinois Receive NSF
Earthquake Engineering Center Grants
Buffalo, N.Y., October 7, 1997--Researchers from the National Center for Earthquake
Engineering Research (NCEER) are among those from three engineering research centers
that were awarded $10 million grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), to
conduct and coordinate earthquake engineering research for the nation.
The five-year NSF grant, the third received by NCEER investigators in 11 years, will
Center for Advanced Technologies in Earthquake Loss Reduction,
to study the application of advanced and emerging technologies to minimize earthquake
damage and losses nationwide. NCEER was originally established by NSF in 1986 following a
This latest award is part of a $30 million NSF commitment to expand earthquake research
by funding three engineering research centers. The others, newly established, are the
Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center, headquartered at the University of
California at Berkeley, and the Mid-America Earthquake Center, based at the University of
"These new centers are needed to extend our understanding of the impacts of
seismic events on buildings, roads, bridges energy sources and other components of our
built environment and societal institutions," said William A. Anderson,
director of the NSF's Earthquake Mitigation Program. "The knowledge gained
shared with engineers, architects and planners will help reduce hazards and save
The awards call for NSF to invest $2 million a year for five years in each of the three
centers. The centers are expected to match federal funds dollar-for-dollar with funds from
non-federal sources, and develop significant cooperation with industry and government
organizations that are key stakeholders in reducing earthquake hazards.
According to NSF, each center will form a consortium of public and private institutions
committed to integrated research and education activities, and will use a team approach to
draw on experts in a range of fields including engineering, geology, geophysics and the
In learning of the awards, NCEER director Dr. George C. Lee said, "NSF is
sending a strong signal that the concept of center-funded earthquake engineering research
has proven effective in developing methods to mitigate damage wrought by earthquakes. We
are very appreciative and proud to be a part of NSF's new program of earthquake
engineering research centers."
Dr. Lee added that NCEER's emphasis on networking across institutions and disciplines
has been integral to its success and he gratefully acknowledged support from New
York State and the institutional members of the Center's consortium.
Center for Advanced Technologies in Earthquake Loss Reduction
NCEER's advanced technology center seeks to explore and adapt new and emerging
technologies to: develop better methods to quantify losses from future earthquakes;
improve performance of critical buildings and lifelines; and increase the effectiveness of
emergency response and crisis management.
Technologies to be examined include those in the categories of: high-performance
computing environments, site remediation, structural control and simulation,
high-performance materials, condition assessment, robotics, and decision support systems.
Research Agenda and Demonstration Projects
The Center's research plan will be implemented around three case studies or
demonstration projects that will enable researchers to study the promise of advanced
technologies and impediments to their use, in real-world situations.
The planned demonstration projects involve the water supply and electrical power
systems of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), and a New York City
hospital complex and depict western and eastern U.S. scenarios which offer
different sets of engineering and socioeconomic circumstances that impact implementation
of loss-reduction measures.
Research tasks are organized under three cross-disciplinary programs:
- Performance Assessment of the Built Environment to quantify expected
- Rehabilitation of Critical Facilities to develop cost-effective
rehabilitation technologies; and
- Intelligent Response and Optimal Recovery to improve post-event response
and recovery through intelligent crisis management and strategic planning.
Institutions taking part in the research program include:
- University at Buffalo
- Cornell University
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware
- EQE Center for Advanced Planning and Research
- University of Nevada at Reno
- University of Southern California
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
- Wharton Risk and Decision Process Center, University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Lee serves as principal investigator (PI) on the advanced technology center
project. Co-PIs are: Dr. Masanobu Shinozuka, University of Southern California; Dr.
Tsu T. (Larry) Soong, University at Buffalo; Dr. Kathleen Tierney, Disaster
Research Center, University of Delaware; and Dr. Richard White, Cornell University.
Dr. Lee praised his co-PIs and other researchers for their contributions to the
successful proposal. He also acknowledged Center researchers for their ability to work
together on focused projects, joining those with expertise in earthquake engineering with
those who study seismology and the social and economic impacts of earthquakes. "Their
combined knowledge produces a research team that is well-prepared for the challenge of
developing sound engineering and disaster-management solutions that are economically
feasible and socially acceptable," he said.
He added that the Buffalo-based center looks to strengthen its network of institutions,
cooperating with the centers at Berkeley and Illinois to establish a nationwide system of
centers for earthquake engineering research. A council of center directors will work to
assure coordination and continuity among them.
Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center
The Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center, led by Dr. Jack P. Moehle,
of the University of California at Berkeley, will develop technologies to reduce urban
earthquake losses. Its consortium comprises nine core universities: UC Berkeley, UC Los
Angeles, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, Stanford University, California Institute of
Technology, University of Southern California, and the University of Washington in
Seattle. Affiliated institutions in seven western states will augment efforts.
Mid-America Earthquake Center
The Mid-America Earthquake Center, directed by Dr. Daniel P. Abrams, at the
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, will emphasize reducing potential earthquake
losses in the central and eastern U.S. by concentrating on problems associated with
low-frequency seismic events. Its consortium includes seven universities: University of
Illinois, Georgia Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University, University of
Memphis, Washington University, St. Louis University, and Massachusetts Institute of