Meet the 2022-2023 EERI/FEMA NEHRP Fellows!

EERI is excited to announce the 2022-2023 EERI/FEMA NEHRP Graduate Fellows, Connie Chen (M.EERI, 2018) and Jessi Thangjitham (M.EERI, 2018)! Supported by funds from FEMA, the one-year fellowship seeks to foster the participation of those working toward goals and activities of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. To learn more about the EERI/FEMA NEHRP Graduate Fellowship, click here.

Connie Chen
Ph.D. Candidate in Structural Engineering, University of California, Berkeley

NEHRP Fellow Chen PhotoConnie I. Chen’s doctoral research investigates the effect of vertical earthquake ground motions on the response of tall buildings by developing numerical models. Current code provisions for vertical earthquake effects, which have persisted since their origin in ATC 3-06 (1978), may be underestimating design column axial forces. One of the project’s goals is to determine the adequacy of existing building code provisions for vertical earthquake effects as applied to tall building design.

Connie was the 2021-22 president of the EERI student chapter at UC Berkeley, and continues to be active in the chapter. In addition to academic and professional pursuits, Connie volunteers for mentorship programs at Berkeley, including the Getting into Graduate School (GiGS) program and the GOLD Science Fair program. Connie graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.S. in Civil Engineering in 2017 and an M.S. in Civil Engineering in 2018, and is currently advised by Professor Jack Moehle.

Jessi Thangjitham
Ph.D. Candidate in Structural Engineering, North Carolina State University

NEHRP Fellow Thangjitham PhotoJessi Thangjitham is a PhD candidate in structural engineering at North Carolina State University. Jessi’s research seeks to quantify the behavior of high-strength reinforcing steel through large-scale testing and modeling of reinforced concrete structures under earthquake loading. Specifically, her research aims to provide design recommendations for the California Department of Transportation. The goal is to implement high-strength rebar in bridges state-wide to reduce material cost, construction time, and congestion.

For the past three years, Jessi has been a member of the Student Leadership Council and has served as the NC State student chapter president. In addition, she has been involved in the School Earthquake Safety Initiative and uses that knowledge to increase engineering outreach in the Raleigh area. She obtained both a B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech. She worked as a structural engineer at a multi-disciplinary building design firm for four years in the DC area.

Honorable Mention: Omar Issa
EERI’s Student Awards Committee awarded an honorable mention to candidates Omar Issa (M.EERI, 2018) of Stanford University.