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O’Rourke awarded EERI George W. Housner Medal

Friday, October 30, 2015

Professor Thomas O'Rourke

Professor Thomas O’Rourke of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering will be presented with the George W. Housner Medal at the 2016 Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) Annual Meeting this upcoming April. The Housner Medal is awarded to recognize those who have made extraordinary and lasting contributions to public earthquake safety through the development and application of earthquake hazard reduction practices and policies, and is the most prestigious award of the institute. 

O’Rourke’s research has had a critical impact on lifeline earthquake engineering across the globe.  His contributions have improved the understanding of the response of geographically distributed systems, such as water supply and electric power networks, to earthquakes and other natural hazards. Most recently, the focus of his expertise has been dedicated to helping with the recovery planning for Christchurch, New Zealand, an area significantly impacted by the effects of the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence on its underground pipeline network.

“I am delighted to receive the Housner Award, which is one of the highest distinctions in earthquake engineering,” said O’Rourke. “EERI is an extraordinary institute, which has provided the guidance and policy that saves lives and safeguards our buildings and infrastructure from the effects of earthquakes and other extreme events.”

In his 30 years of research, O’Rourke’s work has been widely recognized through numerous awards and elections, and he has served various positions that directly impacted the field of earthquake risk reduction. O’Rourke has authored or co-authored over 360 publications on geotechnical, underground, earthquake engineering, and the impact of extreme events on civil infrastructure.

Notable awards include the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Charles Martin Duke Lifeline Earthquake Engineering Award, the Stephen D. Bechtel Pipeline Engineering Award, the Japan Gas Association Best Paper Award, and the LeVal Lund Award for Pratcicing Lifeline Risk Reduction. Significant elections include his appointment to the US National Academy of Engineering in 1993, his election as an International Fellow of the British Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014, his selection as the 2008 Rankine Lecturer, and his selection as the 2016 Karl Terzaghi Lecturer. A member of EERI since 1980, O’Rourke was elected to the institute’s board of directors in 1998, and later served as president from 2003-4. He testified before the United States House of Representatives Science Committee in 1999 on engineering implications of the 1999 Turkey and Taiwan earthquakes, and in both 2003 and 2009 on the reauthorization of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP). He is a Distinguished Member of ASCE and an Honorary Member of EERI.


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