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:

EERI response to M7.8 Nepal Earthquake

On April 25, 2015, an M7.8 earthquake struck Nepal 48 miles northwest of Kathmandu, killing a reported 4,000 people across Nepal, India, Bangladesh, and Tibet. Avalanches and powerful aftershocks have followed. The EERI community extends its sympathy to the victims as rescue and relief work continues.

EERI is currently monitoring the situation from media reports and notes from colleagues in Nepal and surrounding areas as part of its Learning from Earthquakes Program

EERI has set up a virtual clearinghouse website for EERI members to find information and share knowledge about the earthquake impacts at

We are in a preliminary data collection phase. We welcome help in gathering and sharing links on the clearinghouse website to media reports, information from earthquake professionals with field reports, or relevant technical literature about Nepal earthquake risk. Email the virtual clearinghouse at

The LFE Executive Committee is developing a three-phase reconnaissance recommendation plan:

  • Initial field reconnaissance with EERI members and colleagues from India and Nepal
  • Creation of an LFE multi-disciplinary team composed of regional experts and International participants sent to region in two to five weeks
  • Follow-up team sent in four months to a year for study using the evaluation framework developed by EERI Resilience Observatory for documenting and measuring resilience

Any questions regarding EERI’s response to this earthquake can be directed to:

Apply for 2015-2016 EERI/FEMA Graduate Fellowship in Earthquake Hazard Reduction

EERI is pleased to announce the availability of a Graduate Fellowship for the 2015-2016 academic year to support one full-time student in a discipline contributing to the science and practice of earthquake hazard mitigation.

FEMA (logo)The one-year fellowship, underwritten with funds provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency external link icon, is designed to foster the participation of capable individuals in working toward goals and activities of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program.

The EERI/FEMA NEHRP fellowship provides a nine-month stipend of $12,000 with an additional $8,000 for tuition, fees, and research expenses.

Applicants must be enrolled in a graduate degree program at an accredited U.S. college or university and must hold U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status. All applications must include an academic transcript and a statement of educational and career goals.

All application materials must be submitted electronically to EERI, including a letter of nomination from a faculty sponsor at the student’s institution and two additional reference letters. Letters should evaluate the applicant’s recent academic performance, document the applicant’s research accomplishments, and assess the candidate’s potential to contribute to the field.

Candidates may apply online at Deadline for submission of all application materials is May 29, 2015. Announcement of the award will be made on July 1, 2015.

2015 Annual Meeting Focuses on Seismic Hazards Outside “Earthquake Country”

The 67th EERI Annual Meeting broke new ground from March 31–April 3, 2015, by convening in the Northeast for the first time in the Institute’s history. Over 500 attendees, including more than 200 students, came together in Boston, Massachusetts, for a full program of workshops, presentations, and the popular undergraduate seismic design competition. The local organizing committee built the technical program around the meeting theme of “Old Cities, New Earthquakes,” and many sessions focused on seismicity issues specific to the Central and Eastern United States (CEUS).

2015 Annual Meeting Friday luncheon in the Imperial Ballroom

2015 Annual Meeting Friday luncheon in the Imperial Ballroom. Photograph courtesy of Marshall Lew.

From the first plenary session to the meeting’s final workshop, the program touched on the potential for large earthquakes in a city popularly considered outside “earthquake country.” While relatively infrequent compared to the Pacific Coast, the Northeast United States does experience significant seismic events. The 1755 Cape Ann earthquake (estimated 5.9 M), damaged or knocked down from 1,300 to 1,600 chimneys when Boston had a population under 15,000. Since 1755, Boston has grown to a city of 645,000 people with much of its development growth on fill. The city now has an estimated 16,000 unreinforced masonry buildings.

EERI lectures and paper presentations were particularly excellent this year. Robert Olshansky (M. EERI, 1987) delivered the EERI Distinguished Lecture on “Cities, Earthquakes, and Time,” while Paul Somerville (M. EERI, 1983) gave the Joyner Lecture, entitled “Geoscientists’ Capacity to Meet Engineers’ Demands for Seismic Hazard Inputs.” EERI FEMA/NEHRP fellow Julie Fogarty (M. EERI, 2011) spoke on collapse behavior of steel columns under combined axial and lateral loading, and Ashly Cabas (M. EERI, 2013) followed with a presentation on her 2014 EERI Outstanding Graduate Student paper, Vs-K Correction factors for Input Ground Motions used in Seismic Site Response Analyses.

EERI’s School Earthquake Safety Initiative (SESI) was officially launched with a plenary session outlining goals and strategies to promote safe buildings for school children. A follow-up information session the next morning drew a full house. Details on this important new initiative will be coming to EERI members in the next weeks.

Over 60 students and professionals attended the Post-Earthquake Reconnaissance Workshop on the last day of the Annual Meeting. The workshop, hosted by the Student Leadership Council, taught students how to conduct earthquake damage assessment reconnaissance. Students and professionals, working in teams, engaged in a highly successful interactive field exercise to record observations of mock damage to different sites in Boston.

Great thanks are extended to the local organizing committee, led by Scott Civjan (M. EERI, 1995) from the EERI New England Regional Chapter, which arranged for accompanying trainings, workshops, and local tours, and created a lively program featuring national and regional experts.

We also thank all the attendees who joined us in Boston. Slides from most of the Annual Meeting sessions will be posted on the 2015 Annual Meeting website in the coming weeks.

Open Positions: EERI Post-Graduate Internships

The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) has two internship positions available for recent college graduates interested in gaining valuable professional experience while supporting the Institute’s mission to reduce the risks from earthquakes. This position can begin as early as May 2015, but the start date is flexible and students from both quarter and semester schools are encouraged to apply.

The approximately six month internship offers engagement in a number of interesting EERI projects. The intern would focus primarily on the Concrete Coalition, the World Housing Encyclopedia, and the Confined Masonry Network projects.

Tasks are varied, although day-to-day work focuses on supporting EERI projects and staff through research, project coordination, and website development and maintenance.

Internship Requirements Include:

  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree in engineering, science, architecture, or public policy.
  • Familiarity with issues in earthquake risk reduction.
  • Proficiency in Excel and Word
  • Basic HTML skills and some knowledge of website development and maintenance (WordPress and Joomla), or willingness to learn
  • Skills with graphic design programs such as Adobe InDesign or Illustrator
  • Curiosity, strong interpersonal skills, and a flexible attitude towards work.
  • Ability to take initiative and independently solve problems.

The intern will need to work in the EERI office, which means living in the Bay Area. (No moving or housing support provided). EERI interns are provided a stipend of $1,700 a month.

EERI Post Graduation internships are a great way to gain valuable professional experience, to be involved in meaningful projects related to seismic safety and risk reduction, and to make connections with EERI’s multi-disciplinary professional community. The EERI office is conveniently located in downtown Oakland, close to BART and the freeway.

You can learn more about the EERI Post Graduation Internship Program at:

Interested applicants should upload their resume, a one-page cover letter highlighting their qualifications and interest in the EERI internship program, and two references to the secure website here: Preference is given to EERI members. Applications should be submitted by April 13, 2015. EERI would like a commitment of six months, but recent graduates available only for the summer will be considered. New internship positions become available every four to six months. Interviews will be held the week of April 20, 2015.

Liu Huixian Earthquake Engineering Scholarship Awards for Graduate Students

In honor of the late Professor Liu Huixian, who is considered to be the founder of earthquake engineering in China, the Huixian Earthquake Engineering Foundation (China) and the US-China Earthquake Engineering Foundation (USA) are pleased to announce that approximately ten (10) Liu Huixian Earthquake Engineering Scholarship Awards are available in 2015.

Applicants must be students pursuing a master’s or doctor’s degree in earthquake engineering or closely related fields, who are enrolled in universities and research institutes in China, the USA, and Singapore, or are enrolled in member-organizations of the Asian-Pacific Network of Centers for Earthquake Engineering Research (ANCER).

Application materials should be submitted in electronic version to the Secretariat of the Huixian Earthquake Engineering Foundation by June 30, 2015: – Huixian Earthquake Engineering Foundation, and – Institute of Engineering Mechanics of China Earthquake Administration (IEM, CEA).

The Huixian Earthquake Engineering Foundation, China
President: Professor Qi Xiaozhai

The US-China Earthquake Engineering Foundation, USA
President: Professor George C. Lee (M. EERI, 1983)

Contact information:
Ning Xiaoquing
Tel.: +86-18745153617
Zhang Guixin
Secretariat of Huixian Earthquake Engineering Foundation
Tel.: +86-451-86652609
Add: 9 Xuefu Road, Harbin 150080, China
Fax: +86-451-86664755

Liu Huixian Earthquake Engineering Scholarship Award Provisional Regulations (PDF)
Application Form for the Liu Huixian Earthquake Engineering Scholarship Award (Word document)

Robert Olshansky Named 2015 EERI Distinguished Lecturer

Robert Olshansky (M. EERI, 1987), Professor and Head at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been selected as EERI’s 2015 Distinguished Lecturer. He will present his lecture, tentatively titled “Cities, Earthquakes, and Time,” at the 2015 EERI Annual Meeting, examining the relationships of earthquakes to time and the policy implications thereof. The EERI Distinguished Lecture Award is given to members of the Institute to recognize and encourage communication of outstanding professional contributions of major importance for earthquake hazard mitigation.

Robert OlshanskyOlshansky’s research and 25 years of teaching cover land use and environmental planning, with an emphasis on planning for natural hazards. Professor Olshansky has studied recovery planning and management after several major disasters. For over a decade, he and colleagues researched the recovery process following the Kobe, Japan earthquake of 1995, and he spent the 2004-05 and 2012-13 academic years as a Visiting Professor at the Disaster Prevention Research Institute at Kyoto University. His co-authored research report, Opportunity in Chaos: Rebuilding after the 1994 Northridge and 1995 Kobe Earthquakes, is available online.

Currently, Olshansky’s work focuses on developing theory and researching the processes of recovery following catastrophic disasters. He researched and advised the post-Katrina planning process in New Orleans, and his book, Clear as Mud: Planning for the Rebuilding of New Orleans, co-authored with Laurie Johnson, was published by APA Press in April 2010. He and collaborators have researched disaster recovery in Sichuan Province, China; Tamil Nadu, India; Indonesia; and Niigata Prefecture and Tohoku, Japan. In March 2010 he participated in EERI’s post-earthquake reconnaissance following the devastating earthquake in Haiti. He is currently working on a variety of publications to synthesize common lessons and themes of community-scale recovery following large disasters around the world. He has also published on landslide policy, hillside development planning, seismic hazard mitigation policy, and environmental impact assessment.

A member of EERI for over 26 years, he has previously served as Chair of the Public Policy Committee as well as other service roles. He is currently a member of the Learning from Earthquakes Committee and co-chair of the Resilience Panel.

Olshansky has a BS degree in geology from Caltech, and MCP and PhD degrees in city planning and environmental planning from UC Berkeley. Prior to his academic career, he managed a geotechnical engineering firm in the San Francisco Bay area, and he worked with an environmental research institute in Anchorage, Alaska.

EERI regional chapters, student chapters, and other members should contact Professor Olshansky at to request his presentation of the Distinguished Lecture.

EERI 2014 Technical Seminar Series – a Review


With about 240 participants, the 2014 EERI Technical Seminar Series focusing on the state of the practice for Performance Based Seismic Design (PBD) of Tall Buildings was a great success.

For the last decade, engineers in major cities along the West Coast have taken advantage of performance based design concepts to achieve structural designs of tall buildings that are not in strict compliance with the International Building Code prescriptive provisions. The seminar speakers, all at the forefront of the evolution of performance based design procedures, presented their experiences and state-of-the art-practice in their individual areas of specialization.

The presentations from this seminar series are now available for purchase from the EERI Knowledge Center and Online Store:

The seminar presentations gave a broad picture of the state of practice for the performance based design of tall buildings. Ron Hamburger (M. EERI, 1988) began with an overview of the history of PBD. Farzad Naeim (M. EERI, 1983) and Jack Moehle (M. EERI, 1981) followed with a presentation on the use of guidelines published by the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) and the Los Angeles Tall Buildings Structural Design Council (LATBSDC).

The focus then turned to seismological and geotechnical considerations with a presentation titled “Using Ground Motions and SFSI,” by Marshall Lew (M. EERI, 1978) and Jonathan Stewart (M. EERI, 1994) on the development of seismic demands in the form of both response spectra and ground motions for long period structures. Gregory Deierlein (M. EERI, 1989) covered structural analysis and modeling procedures used in PBD, after which two case studies of Tall Buildings were presented: John Hooper (M. EERI, 1987) presented Concrete Building Design, using the Salesforce Tower design as the case study. Leonard Joseph and Nabih Youssef (M. EERI, 1987) both presented Steel and Composite Construction design, focusing respectively on the case studies of Wilshire Grand Tower in Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Convention Center Hotel. Following the presentation of the case studies, Farzad Naeim and Jack Moehle gave an overview of the lessons learned from the Peer Review process in tall building design. Ron Hamburger concluded the talks with a presentation on the future directions of PBD, FEMA (ATC) 58, and moving present practice to the next level.

The technical seminar series was sponsored the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Co-sponsorship was provided by ASCE Metropolitan Los Angeles Branch, EERI Regional Chapters (Northern California, Southern California, and Washington), Seattle ASCE, Structural Engineers Association of Washington (Seattle), Structural Engineers Association of Oregon, and the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California.

Order the presentations from this seminar series from the EERI Knowledge Center and Online Store