The recent tragedy in Haiti is a poignant reminder of the threat that earthquakes pose to the world’s most vulnerable communities. While advancements in scientific knowledge and engineering design have dramatically improved earthquake safety in the United States, worldwide, the risk of deaths and disruption from earthquakes continues to grow. Since 1990, over three-quarters of a million people have died in earthquakes, and tens of millions have been displaced – most in developing countries. The challenges faced in developing countries and strategies to reduce risks due to earthquakes and other hazards will be explored through a panel discussion among three experts, each of whom brings their unique perspectives to the issues.
Brian Tucker is the founding president of GeoHazards International, a non-profit organization whose mission is to mitigate risks in the world’s most vulnerable communities through preparedness, mitigation and advocacy. By engaging knowledgeable engineers and researchers to work with partners in developing countries, Dr. Tucker and his colleagues at GeoHazards International have fostered improved earthquake safety in many at-risk communities. Dr. Tucker was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2002 in recognition of his achievements, and he has been honored through several awards, including the 2007 U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundations George Brown Award for International Science and Technology Cooperation.
Arrietta Chakos directs the Acting in Time Advance Disaster Recovery project at the Harvard Kennedy School, focusing on disaster policy research and its application to promote resilient communities. She was assistant city manager in Berkeley, California until 2007, directing hazard mitigation and legislative initiatives. Ms. Chakos is a member of the Disasters Roundtable at the National Academies of Science, and advises the National Research Council on its Committee for Public/Private Partnerships for Community Resilience. She served as technical advisor to several organizations, including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on its international seismic safety program for schools; the World Bank on disaster risk and sustainable development in Istanbul, Turkey.
Reginald DesRoches is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he researches the design of buildings and critical infrastructure under extreme loads, and the application of innovative materials for rehabilitation of structures. Following the Haiti earthquake, Dr. DesRoches lead a multi-disciplinary team of 28 engineers, architects, city planners, and social scientists, to study the impact of the earthquake with the goal of advising the Haitian government on effective ways to rebuild a more resilient community. He chairs the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Seismic Effects Committee and the executive committee of the Technical Council on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering. His professional accomplishments have been recognized through several awards, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the 2007 ASCE Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize.