Ashly Cabas and Samuel Yniesta Receive Shah Family Innovation Prize

EERI is pleased to announce that the recipients of the 2021 Shah Family Innovation Prize are Ashly Cabas and Samuel Yniesta. The Shah Family Innovation Prize rewards younger professionals and academics for creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit in the field of earthquake risk mitigation and management. The intent of the prize is to stimulate further creativity and leadership in the earthquake risk mitigation community and EERI.

Ashly CabasAshly Cabas is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at North Carolina State University. She completed her undergraduate studies at Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Caracas, Venezuela, and earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at Virginia Tech. Her group’s work has been recognized with the EERI best paper awards in 2014 and 2018. She recently served as guest editor of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America Special Section on Advances in Site Response, and joined NSF-sponsored GEER teams after the 2018 Mw 7.1 Alaska, and 2021 Mw 7.2 Haiti earthquakes; leading the ground motion characterization and site effects investigation. Her research program has been funded by the USGS, NSF, PG&E, and the Alaska DOT, and she has collaborated with international partners at the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, and the IFSTTAR in France. Dr. Cabas was selected as a 2021 NCSU Impact Scholar, 2021 New Faces in ASCE Geo-Institute, 2020 Fellow for the NSF Enabling the Next Generation of Hazards and Disasters Researchers Fellowship Program, and 2017 ASCE Excellence in Civil Engineering Education (ExCEEd) Fellow. In the words of the selection committee, “Dr. Cabas has distinguished herself as a leader in the areas of site response analysis and ground motion characterization at the interface between engineering seismology and geotechnical engineering. She has displayed exceptional leadership in the fostering of a diverse, community-driven earthquake engineering profession through her mentorship of under-represented groups and the creation of a network of Latinx geotechnical earthquake engineers. This effort will enable a diverse group of earthquake engineers to support their own communities, building capacity and supporting seismic risk reduction.”

Samuel YniestaSamuel Yniesta is an assistant professor in the department of Civil, Geological and Mining Engineering, at Polytechnique Montréal, Canada. He obtained his M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in 2012 and 2016, respectively. His expertise lies within the field of geotechnical earthquake engineering and seismic hazard characterization. His research aims at better understanding, quantifying, and modeling seismic hazard, to make civil and mining engineering projects safer. Some of his research projects developed in collaboration with his industrial partners include the simulations of geotechnical systems, such as dams and tailings impoundments, to assess their seismic stability, the development of new constitutive models, and the integration of simulations into probabilistic hazard analysis. Recently, he started studying earthquakes induced by mining operations and their consequences. He is also a co-author of the seismic chapter of the new edition of the Canadian Foundation Engineering Manual. According to the selection committee, “Dr. Yniesta’s research addresses knowledge gaps in the seismic behavior of sensitive soils that will likely have a significant impact on earthquake risk mitigation and policy making. He has transferred his research into practice through the design and delivery of risk mitigation programs with Hydro Quebec and major Quebec-based mining companies. This outreach is helping to transform the geotechnical earthquake practice in Quebec, a region that is becoming increasingly aware of its seismic risk.”

To learn more about the Shah Family Innovation Prize, visit the awards page here.