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MCEER Movers & Shakers

Photo of Kathleen Tierney

Kathleen Tierney

Kathleen Tierney Heads Natural Hazards Center

Longtime MCEER Executive Committee member and researcher Kathleen Tierney has been named director of the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center (NHRAIC) at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The Center is a national and international clearinghouse for information on natural hazards and human adjustments to hazards and disasters. Previously the director of the University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center, Dr. Tierney is considered an expert on the human and social dimensions of hazards and disaster. She also holds a joint professorship in the Institute of Behavioral Science and the Department of Sociology at University of Colorado at Boulder. For more information on the Natural Hazards Center, see their web site at

Photo of BF Spencer, Jr

B.F. Spencer, Jr.

Spencer named PI of the NEES System Integration Project

Bill F. Spencer, Nathan M. Newmark Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and MCEER researcher, has been named PI of the system integration (SI) component of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). The SI component will design, construct, implement, test, and make operational NEESgrid, a high-performance Internet network that enables a truly synergistic national simulation resource for research and education, supporting collaborative experimentation, modeling, and simulation for the earthquake engineering community. Dr. Spencer is part of MCEER’s education program, focusing on the development of a series of interactive, virtual laboratory (VL) experiments available over the Internet (Click here for more information).

Randy Hall, Tom Ridge and Detlof von Winterfeldt

Randy Hall, Tom Ridge and Detlof von Winterfeldt

Von Winterfeldt Named Co-Director of First Homeland Security Center of Excellence

MCEER researcher Detlof von Winterfeldt, School of Policy, Planning, and Development, and Randolph Hall, School of Engineering, University of Southern California, are co-directors of the first Homeland Security Center of Excellence (HS-Center) created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Homeland Security Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events will address both the targets and means of terrorism, with emphasis on protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure systems, such as electrical power, transportation and telecommunications. In addition, the HS-Center will develop tools for planning responses to emergencies, to minimize the threat to human lives and reduce the economic impact in the event of an attack. New York University, the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of California at Berkeley are partners with the Center.

Detlof is part of MCEER’s hospital project, focusing on the development of integrated decision analysis methods together with Dan Alesch (University of Wisconsin, Green Bay), Bill Petak (University of Southern California), Mircea Grigoriu (Cornell University) and Gary Dargush (University at Buffalo).

Tom O’Rourke

Tom O’Rourke

O’Rourke Testifies on Behalf of NEHRP Reauthorization

In October 2003, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), providing substantially increased funding for research and applications. As president of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), MCEER executive committee member and long-time researcher Thomas O’Rourke testified at a House Science Committee Research Subcommittee hearing on the reauthorization of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) in May 2003, and has since participated in Senate staff briefings in January 2004. O’Rourke advocated a strong and viable NEHRP before the Research Subcommittee on the grounds that 75 million Americans in 39 states are directly vulnerable to serious earthquakes, and all Americans are vulnerable to the economic and social disruption caused by earthquakes, including the potential loss of thousands of lives, and estimated costs of $100 to $200 billion dollars. He reviewed the progress NEHRP has made in the twenty-five years it has been in existence, and explained how NEHRP has contributed to improved performance and reliability of infrastructure in other natural disasters and even the WTC attacks. His testimony also included recommendations for NEHRP improvements and policy changes.

The full text of his testimony, along with a power point presentation and detailed information regarding the hearings and the issues involved, can be found online at Senate action on the reauthorization is not expected until early 2004.

Tierney Testifies Before Congress on Impact of Social Science Research on Disaster Preparedness

Kathleen Tierney, MCEER Executive Committee member and long time researcher, was one of three leading sociologists to testify before congress at a hearing entitled The Human Dimension of Disasters: How Social Science Research Can Improve Preparedness, Response, and Recovery, on October 27, 2003. Moderated by William Anderson of the National Research Council (The National Academies), the panelists discussed how social science research can help governments and private-sector organizations improve preparedness for, response to, and recovery from human and natural disasters. Tierney’s testimony focused on the individual and collective preparation needed in order to prevent disasters or to mitigate the adverse impact of possible disasters.

The briefing was sponsored by the American Sociological Association, and co-sponsored by the Institute for Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management at George Washington University and the Senate Natural Hazards Caucus Work Group. More information about the hearings, including Dr. Tierney’s Power Point presentation, can be found at

Masanobu Shinozuka

Masanobu Shinozuka

Shinozuka Delivers Keynote Address

Masanobu Shinozuka, chair of the civil engineering department at the University of California at Irvine and long-time member of MCEER’s Executive Committee, delivered a keynote address at ASCE’s 2004 Earth and Space Conference, the 9th Aerospace Division International Conference on Engineering, Construction and Operations in Challenging Environments. Professor Shinozuka discussed “Remote Sensing for Homeland Security.” Former NASA astronaut Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. also delivered a special lecture at the conference. Aldrin, together with Neil Armstrong, made history in July 1969 with the first lunar landing and exploration. The conference was held March 7-10, 2004 in Houston, Texas.

Honors and Awards

Larry Soong

Larry Soong

Tsu-Teh (Larry) Soong, Samuel P. Capen Professor of Engineering Science in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, University at Buffalo, has been named Distinguished Professor by the State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustees. The designation as distinguished professor—a rank above full professor and the highest in the SUNY system—denotes exceptional contribution in an academic field through publications, national and international research presentations, research findings and the training of students. Larry was a co-founder of the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (NCEER) in 1986, which is now MCEER. He is an internationally recognized authority in the field of engineering structural dynamics. Within this area, his primary research interests are in structural reliability and control, and random vibration.

William Petak giving a lecture

William Petak

MCEER researcher William Petak, Professor in the School of Policy, Planning and Development at the University of Southern California, received the Annual Distinguished Lecture Award from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI). This award recognizes members of the Institute who have made outstanding professional contributions in earthquake hazard mitigation. The Distinguished Lecture by Petak, delivered at the 2003 EERI Annual Meeting and at engineering campuses across the United States, was based largely on the work that he and Dan Alesch, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, have conducted on organizational decision making with respect to extreme events, under the auspices of MCEER.  
George Mylonakis

George Mylonakis

George Mylonakis, Associate Professor at the City University of New York and MCEER researcher, received the 2002 Shamsher Prakash Research Foundation Award for young researchers in geotechnical earthquake engineering. George earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering at the University at Buffalo in 1995 and specializes in seismic soil-structure interaction, pile foundations, and geotechnical earthquake engineering. The prize honors specialists in geotechnical engineering and/or geotechnical earthquake engineering who have made significant independent contributions and show promise of excellence. The award includes a cash prize of $1100.

Staff News

We are pleased to announce that Sofia Tangalos has been named MCEER Information Specialist. Sofia joined the Information Service as a graduate reference assistant in August 2002, and has since received her Master of Library Science degree from the University of Buffalo. Sofia completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree with a major in French Literature and Language from Bryn Mawr college, where her program included coursework in geology. Recently, Sofia was asked to join Phi Beta Mu, an international honor society for library students.

Sumedh Shirodkar, a graduate assistant at the Information Service, has served as the EQNET webmaster since January 2003. EQNET is a one-stop, authoritative source for earthquake information on the Internet. Sumedh is pursuing a Master’s degree in computer science from the University at Buffalo and expects to graduate in September, 2004.

The Bulletin is a free publication offering articles on Center research, cooperative ventures, reports from conferences, educational activities, upcoming events, and reviews of new MCEER publications Spring 2004

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