David J. Wald

Director

Biography

David Wald is a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Golden, Colorado and is on the Geophysics Faculty at the Colorado School of Mines. David is involved in research, management, operations, and development for the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) and the Advanced National Seismic System. He developed and manages “ShakeMap” and “Did You Feel it?”, and he is responsible for leading the development of other systems for post-earthquake response, information, and pre-earthquake mitigation, including “ShakeCast” and “PAGER”, among others.

Under the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, David is Coordinator of the Earthquake Effects topical area and manages the NEIC’s Real-time Products Research & Development Team. In these roles he provides guidance to USGS management on diverse topics ranging from basic earthquake research, monitoring, earthquake hazard and risk, and earthquake response. Due to the impact of USGS projects under his leadership, they have been funded externally by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, the Global Earthquake Model, the California Department of Transportation, the American Lifelines Alliance, the Veterans’ Administration, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The earthquake information systems he has developed in the course of his career have presented many opportunities for important long-term interactions with users from educational, engineering, consulting, loss modeling, utility, critical facility, emergency response and management, government, and international arenas, as well as for public outreach and service. He has also lectured at dozens of universities nationally and internationally.

Previously at Caltech, and now at the Colorado School of Mines, Wald has advised dozens of post-doctoral, graduate, and undergraduate student research projects. His own scientific interests include the characterization of rupture processes from complex recent and historic earthquakes using combined geodetic, teleseismic, and strong motion data; waveform modeling and inversion; analysis of ground motion hazards and site effects; earthquake source physics; and modeling earthquake-induced landslides, liquefaction, and losses.This research has resulted in more than 450 professional publications that David has authored or co-authored, including journal papers, USGS publication series, conference papers, and published abstracts.

Wald has been the Seismological Society of America (SSA) Distinguished Lecturer and Associate Editor, and serves on the Society’s Board of Directors. He is an Associate Editor for Earthquake Spectra. He was awarded SSA’s 2009 Frank Press Public Service Award, and a Department of the Interior Superior Service Award in 2010. He earned his B.S. in Physics & Geology at St. Lawrence University in New York, an M.S. in Geophysics at the University of Arizona, and his Ph.D. in Geophysics at Caltech.

Vision

I have been a member of EERI since 1988, as long as I have been a professional seismologist. I’ve been invited to speak at numerous EERI meetings and technical symposiums, and I present annually at EERI’s Strong Motion Forum as a member of the Strong Motion Committee. I am also a member of EERI’s Learning from Earthquakes Committee. In 2012, I was the lone seismologist presenting as part of EERI’s Technical Seminar series. That series, given in four cities over four days, and entitled “Learning From Recent Major Earthquakes: Lessons for Practice”, was an opportunity for me to provide my seismological insights on key earthquake characteristics of importance to the earthquake engineering community.

Conversely, I am convinced that my professional interactions with the earthquake engineering community are a main driving force behind my focus on practical applications and problem solving in my own area of expertise: earthquake seismology. I believe that I’ve solved applied problems much in the manner that most engineers are trained to solve any fundamentally applied problems; in that sense, I’ve learned from watching you.

Why does EERI play such a central role in a seismologist’s career? For successful earthquake response and mitigation, seismologists need to either think like engineers, or, at the very least, develop a good grasp of what engineers intrinsically understand about the built environment. EERI presents numerous key opportunities to connect people and ideas across this vital interface.

As a seismologist steeped in engineering ways, I will bring to the Board a dedication to the continuation of cross-disciplinary interactions, projects, and opportunities for inculcating earthquake seismology on engineers. Most of us are in this for the long run: we focus on solving problems that take years to get started, years to understand, and many more years to accomplish. Being on the EERI BOD will provide an opportunity to further connect these two fields, at a higher level, in ways that will facilitate further collaborations and contribute to the long-term goal of impacting earthquake mitigation and disaster response and recovery.