Judith Mitrani-Reiser

Director
Term: 2018-2021

Biography

Dr. Judith Mitrani-Reiser (M. EERI, 2001) is the Director of the Disaster and Failure Studies Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). She earned her B.S. from the University of Florida, M.S. from the University of California at Berkeley, and Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology. During her B.S., Judy worked at Exponent Failure Analysis, where her curiosity for understanding the technical causes of failures first began.

She maintains a strong professional involvement and ensures her research has practical applications by consulting for ATC, URS, AECOM, California’s Seismic Safety Commission, Utah’s Department of Health, Oregon’s Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, the City of Baltimore, and several Ministries of Health around the world. Judy is the Director of the Disaster and Failure Studies Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where she leads a multidisciplinary staff responsible for conducting fact-finding investigations focused on: building and in infrastructure failures; successful building and infrastructure performance; evacuation and emergency response systems; and disaster recovery and community resilience. These investigations can be carried out under four different statutory authorities at NIST: National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP), National Wind Impact Reduction Program (NWIRPM), National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act, and the NIST Organic Act. The results of these investigations are intended to inform recommendations to improve codes, standards, and practice.

Judy went to NIST after serving eight years on the Civil Engineering faculty and three years on the Emergency Medicine faculty at the Johns Hopkins University. At Johns Hopkins, Judy serves as the Director of the Sensor Technology and Infrastructure Risk Mitigation (STIRM) Laboratory and the co-Director of the Center for Systems Science in Engineering. Her research there is focused on the seismic safety of healthcare facilities, performance-based design, resilient-based design, community resilience, structured tool development for field reconnaissance, safety and economic impacts 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.

Her multidisciplinary research program includes collaborations within the university spanning the Whiting School of Engineering, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She also collaborates internationally with the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile’s Research Center for Integrated Disaster Risk Management (CIGIDEN), and the Universities of Auckland and Canterbury in New Zealand. Judy is an Associate of the JHU Center for Refugee and Disaster Response (CRDR), a member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), the Seismological Society of America (SSA), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine (WADEM). She is the Vice Chair for ASCE’s Subcommittee on Multi-Hazard Mitigation, and is a member of ASCE’s Committee on Disaster Resilience of Structures and of the Committee of Critical Facilities in ASCE’s Infrastructure Resilience Division. She has served on several EERI Association and Program Committees, and also served for many years as the faculty advisor for the JHU Society of Professional Hispanic Engineers.

Vision

EERI has been the professional organization I have most devoted myself to since joining as a graduate student more than fifteen years ago. I have enjoyed so many different programs that EERI has to offer, and pride myself in only having missed our annual meetings when I was pregnant with my children. I have participated in EERI committees throughout all levels of my career: as President of the Student Leadership Council and organizer of the Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition as a graduate student, in the Young Member Committee as a postdoctoral fellow, and in the Initiatives Development Committee (IDC), Learning from Earthquakes (LFE) Committee, Public Policy Committee, co-Chair of the 10NCEE‘s Proceedings Committee, and Chair of the Socio-Economic Issues and Public Policy Topic of the 11NCEE as a not-so-young member. My engagement with every single Committee has emboldened my passion to do more professionally to protect individuals from seismic risk. In addition to the Committee work that impacts the organization nationally, I have participated and enjoyed many EERI activities at a regional scale. I presented and attended a state-wide resiliency workshop organized by the vibrant EERI Utah Regional Chapter. I also founded the National Capital Chapter with several other enthusiastic members and was active in organizing events in the greater DC Metropolitan area for several years. Finally, I have gained a unique perspective of EERI’s international footprint by deploying with LFE teams several times: 2010 Maule earthquake in Chile, 2011 Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand, and 2015 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal. These reconnaissance trips, as well as teaching at the EERI Onsite Learning Course in Chile this year, have demonstrated the strength of having a strong professional society that can orchestrate seamless and vast collaborations domestically and abroad, to maximize our collective learning from disastrous events.

EERI is a world leader in reducing earthquake risk. Through diverse programming, EERI provides our professional community and the greater public a wealth of information on the science and practice of earthquake engineering and the impacts that seismic events have on communities. EERI provides a home to multiple disciplines, that collectively, want to protect society from the negative impacts of earthquakes. It’s the only society that I belong to where I am just as likely to engage in thoughtful conversations with a disaster sociologist, an emergency manager, or a structural engineer. It unifies a broad community over several career stages and does so with a clear mission. However, we have not had a devastating earthquake in our country for many years and have a lot of work ahead of us to continue making the public aware of our seismic vulnerabilities and available best practices to make our communities more resilient to a seismic threat. It is an honor for me to be considered to join the EERI Board of Directors and to contribute to the great effort of reducing seismic risk in the U.S. and abroad by strengthening our already existing programs and promoting new ones. I deeply appreciate incorporating diverse perspectives, and would like to promote strategies for growing our multidisciplinary membership and attracting new members from a broad range of backgrounds. I feel that one of EERI’s strengths is the unique and deep engagement of its members throughout their careers, and would work tirelessly to bolster existing and new activities that provide a strong pipeline of earthquake engineering leaders. Finally, I believe that EERI’s mission is one that can be modeled by professional societies focused on other types of hazards. EERI should engage with other scientific and professional organizations to promote cross pollination of ideas for making our buildings, infrastructure, and communities more resilient to all types of natural hazards. Finally, I want every EERI member to feel as I do, and see EERI as their home away from home.