Archives for May 2015

EERI Reconnaissance Team to Nepal

As part of its Learning from Earthquakes program, EERI will send a multidisciplinary reconnaissance team to Nepal from May 31–June 7, 2015. The team will study the impacts of the April 25, 2015 earthquake and its aftershocks.

We thank EERI members for the large response of offers to assist and support our mission to the region. In the tradition of EERI reconnaissance efforts, the team assembled for the Nepal reconnaissance trip is represented by experienced professionals from earthquake engineering and disaster-response disciplines.

The reconnaissance mission will be focused on nine main themes, more fully described with strategic objectives on the Research Topics page:

  1. Evaluate effectiveness of past mitigation and preparedness efforts, especially in hospitals and schools, in a region with well-known, very high seismic risk
  2. Investigate lessons from emergency response and building management practices
  3. Investigate impacts on lifelines and communications systems, including expected and actual restoration times
  4. Investigate recovery and resilience related issues
  5. Improve understanding of damage to regional building types
  6. Evaluate impacts on World Heritage sites
  7. Investigate landslide and avalanche impacts on communities
  8. Investigate casualty causes (epidemiology)
  9. Summarize key ground motion features and their significance

After its return from the field, the team will disseminate findings by producing an EERI Earthquake Reconnaissance Summary Report and a web-broadcasted reconnaissance briefing for the membership. EERI expects that several follow-up EERI reconnaissance missions will return to Nepal over the course of the year, including the Housner Fellows, whose team project is related to the Nepal building code, and the EERI Resilience Observatory project, to conduct resilience reconnaissance to better understand recovery in Nepal.

Details about the team members and their roles on the reconnaissance team:

Team Leaders

Bret Lizundia (M. EERI, 1992) is a structural engineer and principal at Rutherford + Chekene in San Francisco. He has over 26 years of experience in structural design of new buildings, seismic evaluation and rehabilitation of existing buildings, peer review and plan checking, and applied research and guideline development. Lizundia was part of reconnaissance teams for the 1989 Loma Prieta, 1994 Northridge, 2001 Nisqually, Washington, 2010 Eureka, California, 2010 Chile, 2011 New Zealand, and the 2014 South Napa, California earthquakes. Lizundia is also the coauthor of the recently completed ATC-20-1 Bhutan Field Manual, which adapted the ATC-20-1 Field Manual: Postearthquake Safety Evaluation of Buildings for the building types in Bhutan.
Role: team leadership, developing team strategy, structures, effectiveness of retrofits, building damage assessment practices
Themes: 1 (Retrofits), 2 (Tagging), 5 (Damage categorization), 6 (Heritage), 7 (Landslide)
Liaison: Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance (GEER)

Surya Narayan Shrestha (M. EERI, 2014) is the Deputy Executive Director and Senior Structural Engineer at the National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET) in Nepal. He serves as the program manager for the Nepal Earthquake Risk Management Program, focused on the safety of school buildings, building code implementation, and disaster preparedness planning and capacity. Mr. Shrestha has experience in earthquake response in Nepal, Indonesia, and Pakistan.
Role: in-country knowledge, coordination with NSET, team leadership, disaster mitigation and planning, risk management, damage assessment
Themes: 1 (Retrofits), 2 (Tagging, Emergency response), 4 (Recovery/resilience), 5 (Damage categorization)
Liaison: National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET), Nepalese government agencies, EERI Housner Fellows

Team Members

John Bevington (M. EERI, 2011) is a geospatial technologist at ImageCat, specializing in the development of geospatial products for understanding risk for the insurance and disaster risk reduction sectors. Bevington has provided expertise to national governments for post-earthquake, tsunami, and hurricane damage assessment through the International Charter for Space and Major Disasters. He has directed field reconnaissance teams to capture in-situ situational assessments of post-disaster response and recovery efforts following disaster events in Europe, Asia, North America, and the Caribbean, and he has used remote sensing observations to assess post-disaster damage following natural disasters on five continents.
Role: field data collection and management, building code compliance and enforcement, vulnerability to children, impacts of mapping and geospatial studies on response and recovery
Themes: 2 (Tagging), 5 (Damage categorization), 7 (Landslide), 8 (Epidemiology), 9 (Ground motion)
Liaison: Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team (EEFIT), Global Earthquake Model (GEM), EERI Housner Fellows

Rachel Davidson (M. EERI, 1995) is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a core faculty member in the Disaster Research Center (DRC) at the University of Delaware. She has served on the executive committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Technical Council on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering (TCLEE), and performed fieldwork in Northridge, Haiti, and New Zealand focused on lifeline or regional scale risk analysis for earthquakes and hurricanes.
Role: damage to transportation networks, airport, power, water, and other lifeline systems and impacts on community function, lifeline interdependencies, lifeline work-arounds
Themes: 3 (Lifelines), 4 (Recovery/resilience)
Liaison: American Society of Civil Engineers Infrastructure Resilience Division (ASCE IRD), Delaware Disaster Research Center (DRC)

Kishor Jaiswal (M. EERI, 2007) is a licensed professional engineer and a lead loss model developer of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Prompt Assessment of Global Earthquakes for Response (PAGER) program in Golden, Colorado. His primary responsibilities include development of global earthquake casualty and economic loss estimation models; development of building inventory, exposure, and vulnerability databases; and developing frameworks to rapidly quantify earthquake impact as part of the National Earthquake Information Center’s operational response.
Role: damage categorization for regional building types, data collection to improve PAGER damage, loss and casualty predictions
Themes: 5 (Damage categorization), 8 (Epidemiology), 9 (Ground motion)
Liaison: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), EERI Housner Fellows

Ganesh Kumar Jimee is the director of the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response Division of the National Society for Earthquake Technology- Nepal (NSET). He has contributed to disaster response plans for Nepalese districts, municipalities, and other non-governmental organizations. He has facilitated national and local training courses on disaster management, specifically on emergency medical response, incident command systems, and design and planning of emergency drills for different organizations. He has also contributed to earthquake risk assessment of Nepalese cities and Mansehra, Muzaffarabad, and Quatta City in Pakistan as a GIS expert. He has developed multi-hazard assessments and preparations of maps for the Risk Sensitive Land Use Plan of Kathmandu Metropolitan City and the Community Vulnerability Assessment Mapping of Humla District as a GIS expert. Mr. Jimee led the NSET team with Nepal Police for search and rescue operations after the April 25 earthquake.
Role: disaster management, emergency response procedures, emergency preparedness, emergency medical response, in-country knowledge
Themes: 2 (Emergency response/planning)

Hemant Kaushik (M. EERI, 2009) is an associate professor in civil engineering at Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati. He has done reconnaissance work after the Sumatra earthquake and tsunami of 2004, and has research interests in earthquake damage surveys, earthquake resistant design, nonlinear behavior, and retrofit of structures.
Role: categorization and compilation of damage to structures, impacts on Northern India and other surrounding countries
Themes: 1 (Retrofits), 5 (Damage categorization), 6 (Heritage)
Liaison: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Recon Teams, Indian Earth Science Team

Hari Kumar (M. EERI, 2011) is a civil engineer working in disaster and risk reduction based in New Delhi as the Southeast Asia regional coordinator for GeoHazards International (GHI), with a focus on hospitals and schools, including nonstructural assessments in India and Nepal.
Role: school and hospital mitigation/retrofitting effectiveness, nonstructural impacts, government relations and recovery policies
Themes: 1 (Hospital preparedness, retrofit effectiveness), 4 (Resilience/recovery), 8 (Epidemiology)
Liaison: GeoHazards International (GHI)

Jan Kupec is a geotechnical engineer and technical director in ground engineering at Aurecon Group in New Zealand. He has extensive professional experience on environmental engineering, slope and land stability problems, and regional seismicity and active faulting, and specializes in forensic geotechnical engineering and applications of geosynthetics. Kupec acted as the Chief Geotechnical Engineer at the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority on key issues related to deconstruction and geotechnical work after the Christchurch sequence of earthquakes in 2010–2011.
Role: impacts of landslides and potential landslides on community function, geotechnical impacts on buildings, hazard assessment, demolition and rebuilding strategies
Themes: 7 (Geotechnical engineering/landslides), 9 (Seismology)
Liaison: New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering (NZSEE), Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance (GEER)

Judy Mitrani-Reiser (M. EERI, 2001) is an assistant professor in civil engineering at Johns Hopkins University with a secondary appointment in emergency medicine. She has been on reconnaissance trips to Chile, New Zealand, and Mexico studying resilience and functional impacts of healthcare facilities and healthcare systems. Her research focuses on performance assessment of critical infrastructure, the safety and economic impact of hazards on the built environment, the effective communication of these risks to the public, informed decision making for use in emergency management and policy making, and the interaction of humans with the built environment.
Role: hospital mitigation/retrofitting effectiveness, recovery
Themes: 1 (Hospital preparedness, retrofit effectiveness), 4 (Resilience/recovery), 8 (Epidemiology)

Chris Poland (M. EERI, 1978) is a structural engineer with over forty years of design work, seismic analysis and strengthening of existing buildings, structural failure analysis, and historic preservation. Formerly the Chairman and CEO of Degenkolb Engineers, Poland now has a structural and earthquake engineering consulting practice specializing in seismic design and mitigation related to individual projects and the development and implementation of programs and policies related to creating resilient communities. He has been a key contributor in the development of SPUR’s Resilient City initiative for San Francisco, and the NIST National Disaster Resilience Framework (currently under development).
Role: recovery of critical facilities, emergency housing, neighborhoods, and the supporting infrastructure systems in the context of services related to families, the economy, government, health, education, community service organizations, etc. Identify recovery efforts related to services that should be tracked long-term for the EERI Resilience Observatory.
Themes: 3 (Lifelines), 4 (Recovery/resilience)
Liaison: EERI Resilience Observatory Project, American Society of Civil Engineers Infrastructure Resilience Division (ASCE IRD)

Suraj Shrestha is the Senior Engineer at Dharan Sub Metropolitan City in Eastern Nepal. In this role, he provides technical support and management for development activities, including those with partner and community-based organizations and projects, linking with national goals and strategic plans of the National Planning Commission, Ministry of Local Development and Urban Development Committee. He also conducts disaster risk management trainings for the community, technicians, and contractors/masons in his jurisdiction. He has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree in Urban Planning from Tribhuvan University in Nepal.
Role: experience with cultural heritage sites, urban planning, in-country knowledge
Themes: 6 (Heritage), 1 (Retrofits), 5 (Damage categorization)

Courtney Welton-Mitchell (M. EERI, 2015) is a social psychologist, co-founder and director of Humanitarian Assistance Applied Research Group at the University of Denver, and a research associate at the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research focus is on global mental health, disaster mitigation, refugee livelihoods, and other sectors, including mental health integrated disaster preparedness for internally displaced in Haiti and Nepal.
Role: social psychology, mental health and psychosocial network response, humanitarian assistance, historical disaster preparedness efforts
Themes: 2 (Aid, mental health), 4 (Recovery/resilience)
Liaison: Delaware Disaster Research Center (DRC)

EERI Oral History on William J. Hall

William J. Hall

William J. Hall

This month EERI members (Regular, Young Professional, Retired, Honorary, and Affiliate) are receiving the latest issue of Connections: The EERI Oral History Series, with William J. Hall (M. EERI, 1973) as the subject of Volume 23. Interviewers are Robert D. Hanson (M. EERI, 1968) and Robert Reitherman (M. EERI, 1979), with Doug Nyman (M. EERI, 1975) providing a personal introduction to the volume. A special appendix on Nathan M. Newmark, Hall’s mentor and close colleague is included.

Hall has conducted research and consulting projects on earthquake ground motions and structural response, steel design and fracture mechanics, the seismic design of nuclear power plants and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and blast-resistant design. He was one of the youngest individuals to be elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

After serving in the Merchant Marine in World War II, Hall completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Kansas and went on to get his PhD at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where his advisor was Nathan M. Newmark. An extensive appendix in this volume offers biographical information on the late Professor Newmark, who developed many widely used methods for analyzing structural components under a variety of loading conditions, and for calculating the stresses in the soil beneath foundations.

hall_web_revThe William J. Hall Oral History is also available online as a PDF download from the EERI Knowledge Center and Online Store. This volume of The EERI Oral History Series was produced with financial support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Initiated by Stanley Scott, Connections: The EERI Oral History Series, serves to preserve the recollections of those who have had pioneering careers in the field of earthquake engineering. To see the full list of volumes in The EERI Oral History Series, visit

Lizundia and Shrestha Named to Lead EERI Reconnaissance Team in Nepal


The Executive Committee of EERI’s Learning from Earthquakes (LFE) program has selected Bret Lizundia and Surya Narayan Shrestha as co-leaders of EERI’s reconnaissance activities for the Nepal-Gorkha Earthquake of April 25, 2015.

Lizundia and Shrestha will direct a multidisciplinary team of earth scientists, engineers, and social scientists to observe and investigate damaging effects from the earthquake and assess the need for follow-up areas of research. The team will travel to the affected region in late May through early June.

"Shrestha and Lizundia have an ideal blend of reconnaissance experience and regional knowledge to lead this effort,” said Ken Elwood, chair of the Learning from Earthquakes Executive Committee. “We have been amazed by the number of EERI members with experience in the impacted region and greatly appreciate the overwhelming interest by our membership to participate as team members or as curators on our virtual clearinghouse website. We are working with these two leaders to finalize the members for the team.”


Surya Narayan Shrestha (M. EERI, 2014) is the Deputy Executive Director and Senior Structural Engineer at the National Society for Earthquake Technology, Nepal. He acted as the program manager for the Nepal Earthquake Risk Management Program focused on the safety of school buildings, building code implementation, and disaster preparedness planning and capacity. Shrestha was selected as an EERI Housner Fellow in 2014.


Bret Lizundia (M. EERI, 1992) is a structural engineer and principal at Rutherford + Chekene in San Francisco. He has over 26 years of experience in structural design of new buildings, seismic evaluation and rehabilitation of existing buildings, peer review and plan checking, and applied research and guideline development. Lizundia was part of reconnaissance teams for the 1989 Loma Prieta, 1994 Northridge, 2001 Nisqually Washington, 2010 Eureka, California, 2010 Chile, 2011 New Zealand, and the 2014 South Napa, California earthquakes. He is a past president of the Applied Technology Council and the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California, and a past recipient of the EERI Shah Family Innovation Prize.

Learn more about EERI’s Learning from Earthquakes program:

Read more about the April 25, 2015, Nepal-Gorkha earthquake, including curated topics of interest, at EERI’s virtual clearinghouse website:

Questions about the Learning from Earthquakes program and EERI reconnaissance activities may be directed to EERI Program Manager Heidi Tremayne: