Hazards Research Program Highlights

“Hazards Research Program Highlights”

The webinar happened on January 19, 2021, and featured the premier research programs of:
University of Florida
Texas Tech University
Villanova University
Auburn University
Florida International University

You can see the recording here: 


Individual Program Descriptions

University of Florida

Drs. Kurt Gurley, Forrest Masters, Jennifer Bridge, Brian Phillips, David Prevatt, Arthriya Subgranon

The structures faculty in the Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering at the University of Florida welcome this opportunity to reach out to potential graduate students and research colleagues. Each of the seven faculty in our group is research-active in one or more aspects of natural or human devised hazards. While extreme wind effects on individual structures and community resilience is a major focus, our efforts extend to high-energy impacts, seismic events, blast loading and progressive collapse. Our activities include post-event field studies, experimental methods, and analytical and stochastic computational modeling. Faculty interests and past and current projects include performance-based design, structural optimization with machine learning, reliability and risk analysis, cyber-physical hybrid testing, decision making under uncertainty, sustainable and resilient infrastructure systems, sensor design, structural health monitoring, resilient design for developing countries, barge-to-bridge-pier impacts, and modeling and testing concrete systems under blast loads. The Powel Family Structures and Materials Laboratory houses multiple unique experimental apparatus to simulate loads and determine failure mechanism. This includes a very large and highly automated Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel that is a part of the shared-use Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) program under NSF. Users from across the country conduct experimental work at this facility. There are many opportunities to join our team as a student or a research colleague, regardless of your specific hazard interests. We welcome your intellectual input and strive to help you put your own stamp on hazard research.


Texas Tech University

Dr. Delong Zuo

The National Wind Institute at Texas Tech University has its roots in a research effort following the 1970 Lubbock Tornado. Over the years, it has grown into an educational and research enterprise that supports convergent research in wind engineering, atmospheric measurement and simulation, and energy systems. Today, the Institute has more than 40 faculty affiliates from multiple Colleges at Texas Tech University. It also hosts a one-of-its-kind multidisciplinary Wind Science and Engineering Ph.D. program which trains students and prepares them to answer today’s and tomorrow’s challenging questions. The cutting-edge research pursued by the faculty and students at NWI is supported by a diverse suite of state-of-the-art facilities.


Villanova University

Stephen M. Strader, Ph.D.

Assessing Severe Weather-Societal Interactions using Geospatial, Remote Sensing, and Engineering Sciences: A Collaborative Approach

The purpose of this program or presentation is to highlight graduate student opportunities* at Villanova University in the Department of Geography and the Environment. Specifically, I am seeking undergraduate students interested in studying geography, environmental sciences, and hazard-societal interactions at the graduate level. As an example of the type of research my graduate student may conduct, my THWARTS presentation will discuss my collaborative research project on the 2019 Beauregard, AL EF4 tornado. This research illustrates and describes how Southeast U.S. tornado disasters commonly unfold from spatiotemporal and structural engineering stand points. Findings indicated that although the meteorological forecasts leading up to the tornado event were accurate and timely, 23 individuals–19 in manufactured homes–still perished. All fatalities are primarily a result of the lack of positive ground anchoring on homes where individuals were killed. Altogether, the Beauregard-Smith Station, AL tornado event resulted in a housing fatality rate seven times greater than the 2011 Joplin, MO EF5 tornado at least in part due to a disproportionately larger number of manufactured homes exposed to violent tornado winds. My talk will illustrate how collaborative research involving physical scientists (meteorologists and engineers) and social scientists can provide critical insight into not only fatalities, but also survivability. Similar to this study, I am looking for students who are interested in the following research areas:

  • Tornado risk and vulnerability assessment techniques using spatiotemporal methods
  • Post-event hazard impact analyses using multispectral unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)
  • Climate change and future wildland fire disasters
  • Economic disasters using a spatially explicit Monte Carlo hail impact model and post-event hail event survey data
  • Analyses of simultaneous tornado and flash flood (TORFF) warnings as they relate to radar imagery, storm mode, public perception, and potential structural impacts.

*Funding is highly competitive, and applications must be submitted by February 1, 2021


Auburn University

Dr. David Roueche

The research program at Auburn University focuses on the interaction between extreme winds and the built environment, primarily low‐rise buildings.  Dr. Roueche’s team utilizes extensive field investigations to get real‐world data and then integrates these data with physics‐based modeling to advance knowledge of extreme wind and wind load characteristics and structural response. Dr. Roueche was recently awarded an NSF CAREER Award to focus on developing frameworks for learning from the wealth of recent post‐windstorm reconnaissance data using hybrid physics‐based and data science techniques. Auburn also just opened a new Advanced Structural Engineering Laboratory with the capability of simulating extreme hazard loads on full‐scale structures, including soil‐structure interaction. Other active projects include full‐scale structural health monitoring of structures on the Gulf Coast.


Florida International University

Dr. Ioannis Zisis

The Laboratory for Wind Engineering Research (LWER) at Florida International University (FIU) is dedicated to creating a more hurricane resistant society. The LWER converts the information and knowledge gained through structural mitigation research into practical tools for professionals, practitioners, and the general public. The research team includes experts in wind, civil and structural engineering, and meteorology. To perform hurricane mitigation research, the wind engineering team at the International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC) and College of Engineering and Computing (CEC) at FIU has built a full-scale “Wall of Wind (WOW) facility”. The WOW facility can test to failure full-sized structures such as site-built or manufactured housing and small commercial structures. Current WOW projects, funded by federal and state agencies and by private industry, are offering focus and leadership in the urgently needed hurricane engineering research and education from an integrative perspective to quantify and communicate hurricane risks and losses, mitigate hurricane impacts on the built environment, and enhance sustainability of infrastructure and business enterprise.