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Higgins: National Science Foundation Award to support University at Buffalo research following Nepal earthquake

by jmaloni

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Thu, Jun 25th 2015 01:55 pm

Local engineers and graduate students will travel to Nepal to collect field data, inform rebuilding in Nepal and guidelines for U.S. structures

Congressman Brian Higgins announced the award of a $24,040 National Science Foundation grant to University at Buffalo engineer and researcher Dr. Andreas Stavridis for data collection and investigation of architectural and structural response to seismic activity following recent earthquakes in Nepal.

"Natural disasters are inescapable and exact unthinkable consequences," Higgins said. "This award puts researchers right here, at the University at Buffalo, at the forefront of efforts to learn from destruction and provide insight into best preparedness practices moving forward."

Massive earthquakes in April and May reaching a magnitude of 7.8 hit Ghorka, Nepal, killing more than 9,000 and injuring tens of thousands more. Destruction of homes, buildings and infrastructure is widespread with rebuilding costs estimated to be $6.7 billion.

Earlier this month, three researchers and three graduate students traveled to Nepal to collect perishable field data and perform detailed assessments of the seismic performance of a number of buildings. The grant supports these efforts as well as the UB team collaborating with researchers and engineers from Italy, Nepal and Portugal.

About a quarter of the building impacted in the Nepal earthquakes consist of reinforced concrete frames infilled with masonry walls. This structural system also was widely used in California and the Pacific Northwest in the 1920s and 1930s. The collected data will be used to evaluate current U.S. guidelines for assessment of existing structures and inform Nepal rebuilding and recovery efforts.

The award is provided through the NSF's rapid response research program, which supports proposals requiring urgent access to data - particularly research associated with disasters and other unanticipated events.

Stavridis, an assistant professor in UB's department of civil, structural and environmental engineering, holds a Ph.D. in structural engineering and specializes in research associated with structure performance and earthquake engineering.

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