Archives for 2012

Meet the Housner Fellows and take a look at their projects

Welcome to the first post in the Housner Fellows blog. This blog has been developed for the 2012 Fellows. Here you will be able to follow their progress on their projects. Brief descriptions of these projects follow:

Group Picture Kate Stillwell leading a discussion
Group photo of the Housner Fellows with Lucy Arendt at the EERI Annual Meeting in Memphis, Tennessee. Front Row: (Left) Lucy Arendt, Lindsey Maclise, Kate Stillwell, Hassan Mdala, Carlien Bou-Chedid, Vivek Rawal. Back Row: (Left) Syed Ali, Danielle Hutchings, Cale Ash. Kate Stillwell leading a discussion at the Housner Institute held in Asilomar, California, June 16-21.



Toolkit for Earthquake‐Safe School Construction: Best Practices and Identification of Barriers

This project will produce a set of resources for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to ensure earthquake safety in the construction and renovation of school buildings worldwide. Fellows will partner with various NGOs who build schools in developing countries and need clearer seismic guidelines to provide for school safety. While some resources are currently in existence in various forms, they do not meet all the needs of the NGOs building schools, particularly in developing countries. In particular, there is a need to identify and remove barriers that prevent schools from being built with earthquake resistance. The Fellows will serve as a bridge between partner NGOs and industry-developed documents and resources.


Syed Mohammed Ali, GFDRR—EERI Fellow

Ali is working on a component of the Concrete Coalition Project of EERI in which he: (a) leads the EERI student chapter in Peshawar in contributing field data to the project regarding RC buildings that were damaged during the major 2005 Pakistan earthquake; and (b) meets with various stakeholders to identify policy issues that circumvent design and field implementation.

Cale Ash

For his individual project, Cale is taking an active role within EERI by serving as chair of the 2013 Annual Meeting Local Organizing Committee. The meeting, by developing a regionally-relevant program and attracting key stakeholders, can advance the conversation with regards to earthquake risk and mitigation options. By serving a key role for EERI, he will demonstrate that younger members can contribute to the institute’s activities.

Carlien Bou-Chedid, GFDRR—EERI Fellow

Carlien’s project will seek to introduce confined masonry construction for use in Ghana. The aim will be to reach all those who may be involved in the construction of homes and educate them on the right way to build for earthquakes. Those to be targeted will include potential home owners, artisans, technicians and building professionals. An Illustrated Guide will be prepared by adapting information contained in existing documents on confined masonry construction. A 15 minute Documentary/ Training Film will also be prepared on confined masonry construction.

Danielle Hutchings

Danielle’s project will build a local government toolkit to improve community resilience. Local governments recognize the importance of planning for earthquakes but limited resources and small staff make this a challenge. San Francico Bay Area elected officials have asked for direction on specific actions and policies they can implement now to improve their resilience. Local governments also want identification of specific actions they can take after an earthquake to more quickly recover and prepare for future earthquakes. These actions and policies include simple, concrete items such as sample ordinances, checklists, best practices, and lessons learned from recent earthquakes and other disasters.

Lindsey Maclise

Lindsey’s project is part of a larger collaborative Global Quake Science and Safety Initiative for Girls. Teachers Without Borders (TWB), in conjunction with EERI, USGS and GEM, is developing a “Global Quake Science and Safety Initiative for Girls” Program to educate young girls in developing nations subject to seismic events. The initial phase of this project will develop teaching tools and a curriculum for educating the girls in the classroom. Following this initial phase, the girls will go out into their community for hands on research; including documentation of the various building types in their neighborhoods. Lindsey’s role will be to lead the curriculum development portion of the project for EERI.

Hassan Mdala, GFDRR—EERI Fellow

Hassan’s individual project will be to develop a series of Earthquake Safety Posters in English and his local language. These posters will build on recently-prepared (by the Malawi Geological Survey Department) Earthquake Safety Guidelines that are being distributed to the responsible government departments and non-governmental organizations. Most of the people in Malawi know nothing about earthquake safety issues, so by presenting basic information in pictorial form, Hassan hopes to begin to increase awareness of the earthquake risk in his country.

Vivek Rawal

Vivek’s individual project is to develop a web portal and online academy for seismic safety. He is proposing to set up an online web-based educational initiative that can bring high quality short training videos to a large number of engineers in developing countries who do not have resources or access to such high quality teaching.

Kate Stillwell

Kate’s project will further develop an earthquake ratings system for buildings, by facilitating issuance of pilot ratings and proposing a rating system for houses. In 2011 the US Resiliency Council ( was founded as a vehicle for implementing earthquake ratings (as part of their “CoRE” ratings). USRC is modeled after the US Green Building Council: it does not generate ratings itself, but rather accredits professionals to generate ratings and then issues / certifies those ratings. Kate’s project includes key startup tasks necessary for ratings and the USRC to become established.

2013 Annual Meeting Registration Now Open!

Building Resilient Communities through Policy and Mitigation

February 12-15, 2013 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seattle

Visit the meeting website at for more information about the program, hotel, and optional field trips.

Online Registration Now OPEN at:

After January 15, all registration rates increase by $100.

Meeting Highlights:

  • Learn about the most recent research on earthquake hazards and current lessons learned from recent earthquakes around the world.
  • Hear updates from ongoing resilience planning efforts from across the country.
  • Learn about addressing the seismic risk posed by vulnerable buildings and efforts to protect students in seismically dangerous schools.
  • Learn about the latest design guidance for tsunami-resistant structures
  • Explore how performance-based seismic design can improve both the resilience and the sustainability of our communities.
  • Mary Comerio will present the EERI Distinguished Lecture.
  • The Joyner Lecture will be given by Kelvin Berryman
  • Catch the 10th Annual Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition
  • And more!

2013 EERI Annual Meeting

Location: Seattle, WA


Shwebo, Myanmar

November 11, 2012, M 6.8 Earthquake

Available Information


M7.4 Earthquake Strikes Guatemala

At 10:35 local time, a Mw 7.4 earthquake struck 35km off the coast near the Guatemala/Mexico border. The area has experienced more than 70 aftershocks. The quake was felt throughout the country and was even felt 600 miles away in Mexico City. Damage was been reported in houses and some municipal buildings. The death toll has risen to 52 deaths with many coming from the city of San Marcos. For more information, visit the LFE event page for this event.

Champerico, Guatemala

November 7, 2012, M 7.4 Earthquake

(source: Omar G. Flores B.)

EERI Reports

Other Reports


10th National Conference on Earthquake Engineering

Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Save the Date:

EERI Board Statement on Convictions in Italy

November 5, 2012

On October 22nd a judge in L’Aquila Italy found seven scientists, engineers and public officials guilty of manslaughter and sentenced them to six-year prison terms, ordered them to pay $10.1 million to victims, and banned them from public service for life. The seven defendants were members of a government–appointed Commission created to advise the Department of Civil Protection on hazard forecasting and risk prevention. They were charged with manslaughter due to negligence and causing bodily harm as a result of information given to the media after a meeting of the Commission held one week before the earthquake. The defendants will appeal.

Five of the seven defendants are long-time and active members of the earthquake engineering community. Their careers have focused on seismological and engineering research, publication of their findings in journals and popular literature, teaching, improving codes, and public service. One of the defendants, Professor G. Michele Calvi, is a member of EERI.

Based on all the evidence available to date and speaking on behalf of the Institute, the Board of Directors believes the indictment and conviction are misguided, and stands with our member Professor Calvi, and our other colleagues on the commission during this difficult time. The Board expresses its respect for their long service working to improve earthquake safety in Italy and internationally.

The Board also noted that the decision sets a detrimental precedent affecting those who serve on advisory panels and who speak publicly on earthquake risk. The Board notes that seismic mitigation has to be built around a well-informed public, proactive preparedness efforts, and enforcement of existing building codes.  A primary role for scientists and engineers is to help educate the public and we urge our Members to redouble their efforts in this area through careful interactions with the media and public officials.

The Board will review the judge’s written decision once it is handed down and consider additional measures the Institute can take in support our colleagues and to mitigate the harmful impacts of the decision. The Board invites members to comment below on this matter.



Mary Comerio Named 2013 EERI Distinguished Lecturer

Mary C. Comerio, professor in the Graduate School of the Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, has been selected as EERI’s 2013 Distinguished Lecturer. She will present her lecture for the first time in February 2013 during EERI’s 65th Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, on the topic of “Resilience: An Engineering Challenge.” Comerio combines a deep understanding of the technical and socio-economic issues related to earthquakes and other disasters and the built environment. As an architect, she has designed many public and private facilities while also pursuing a productive scientific career focusing on hazards research that has earned her international recognition. She has been a leading researcher on disaster recovery, particularly related to post-disaster housing, publishing both theoretical and empirical works that have significantly advanced our understanding. Seismic rehabilitation of existing buildings and loss modeling are also research areas where Comerio has made significant contributions. Her work has caught the attention of policy groups such as the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), for which she consulted on rebuilding after earthquakes in China and Haiti. The UNEP recognized her efforts with a Green Star Award (see page 6 of the June 2011 Newsletter).

Comerio has played a leading role in furthering EERI’s mission. She served on the Board of Directors 2002-2005 and as a member of the Editorial Board for Earthquake Spectra from 1997-2003. She is currently associate editor of Spectra. She has also been a major contributor to the Learning from Earthquakes Program, having served as a member of reconnaissance teams for earthquakes in L’Aquila, Italy (2009) and in New Zealand (Canterbury in 2010 and Christchurch in 2011, as team leader and co-team leader, respectively).

Comerio earned her B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1973, and completed both her M. Arch. and M.S.W. there in 1977. From her initial appointment in 1978 as an assistant professor at UC Berkeley, she rose to the rank of full professor in 1991 and served as department chair 2006-2009.