Highlights from the 2024 EERI Annual Meeting in Seattle

Last week, almost nine hundred participants gathered in Seattle, Washington for EERI’s 2024 Annual Meeting and the 2024 Seismic Design Competition (SDC), which brought together more than 400 students in 40 university teams from 10 countries. EERI thanks the 2024AM Organizing Committee, especially co-chairs Eric Bishop, (M.EERI 2015), Amanda Hertzfeld, and Brett Maurer (M.EERI 2014) for all their hard work, and all the 2024AM exhibitors and sponsors, especially our Anchor Sponsor Computers and Structures, Inc., for supporting the 2024AM!


EERI President Janiele Maffei and Acting Director Maggie Ortiz-Millan with the organizing committee co-chairs and plenary speakers

The meeting began on Tuesday, April 9 with a Reconnaissance Training Workshop, which included a lightning roundtable introducing partner organizations in the reconnaissance community, presentations on ethical and practical dimensions of reconnaissance, case studies and techniques for documenting geological, geotechnical, structural, and tsunami impacts, and an overview of plans for Friday's reconnaissance field exercise. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) also hosted a National Seismic Hazard Model Workshop to update the engineering community on the 2023 National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM) and inputs to building codes and other applications, and gather feedback on NSHM user needs. That evening, participants gathered for “Reconnaissance, Response, and Recovery: Lessons Learned from the 2023 Kahramanmaraş Earthquake Sequence,” a plenary session launching the Kahramanmaraş Earthquakes Anniversary Program organized in partnership with the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), featuring speakers Alper İlki, Recep Cakir, and Anne Wein (M.EERI 2011). Technical issues prevented Emel Ganapati from delivering her presentation, which will be rescheduled as an EERI webinar this spring. The plenary was followed by welcome receptions and a Meet the Leaders Networking Event.

On Wednesday, April 10, EERI President Janiele Maffei (M.EERI 1992) welcomed participants to the main technical program and introduced the Opening Plenary, “Advancing Seismic Resilience in the US Pacific Northwest and Beyond.” The plenary featured a video address from U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, and presentations by Pacific Northwest Seismic Network Director Harold Tobin, Washington Geological Survey Chief Hazards Geologist Corina Allen, City of Seattle Chief Operating Officer Marco LoweWarren KingGeorge, Oral Historian with the Muckleshoot Tribe, and Washington State Representative Cindy Ryu. The day also featured eight concurrent sessions, an evening poster session, and EERI committee meetings, as well as SDC presentations. EERI President-Elect Ellen Rathje (M.EERI 1996) welcomed Helen Crowley (M.EERI 2008) to the stage to deliver the 2024 William B. Joyner Lecture, “Why Seismic Hazard Modeling Has Become a Risky Business.”


Shaking Day at the 2024 Seismic Design Competition 

The Thursday, April 11 program began with Michael Olson (M.EERI 2004)’s 2024 EERI Distinguished Lecture, “Geospatial Technology: Saving he World’s Past, Present, and Future from Natural Hazards.” SDC Shaking Day took place alongside eight more concurrent sessions in the technical program, followed by an evening poster session. At the Closing Plenary, EERI signed a cooperation agreement with Canadian Association for Earthquake Engineering and Seismology. EERI President Janiele Maffei presented the George W. Housner Medal to Robert D. Hanson (M.EERI 1986), and the Alfred E. Alquist Special Recognition Medal to Laurie Johnson (M.EERI 1990). David Friedman (M.EERI 1988) and Ivan Wong (M.EERI 1978) were recognized as EERI Honorary Members. Eyitayo (Tayo) Opabola (M.EERI 2020) was presented with the Shah Family Innovation Prize. Polly Murray (M.EERI 2017) and Kristen Ulmer (M.EERI 2014) were recognized as winners of the Younger Member Award, and Kayla Sorenson (M.EERI 2021) was recognized as the recipient of the 2023-2024 EERI/FEMA NEHRP Graduate Fellowship. Earthquake Spectra Editor-in-Chief Jack Baker (M.EERI 2004) presented Brett Maurer (M.EERI 2014) and Morgan Sanger (M.EERI 2023) with the the Outstanding Spectra Paper Award and Gerald Palomino Romani (M.EERI) with the Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Prize. The ceremony also recognized retiring board members and volunteers, committee chairs and regional chapter officers.

nheri drone

A field exercise team watches a NHERI-RAPID drone demonstration at the Seattle waterfront 

On Friday, April 12, EERI and the Washington Geological Survey hosted a full-day Reconnaissance Field Exercise based on a M7.5 Seattle Fault earthquake and tsunami scenario. This was first in-person exercise of the new Washington Geologic Hazards Clearinghouse Plan. The exercise opened with a series of presentations on the scenario earthquake and tectonic setting and a status report from state and city emergency response authorities, followed by an overview of the building tagging process and clearinghouse operations. Eight teams of participants checked out of clearinghouse headquarters to collect data at a range of sites around downtown and waterfront Seattle—some taking the ferry to Bainbridge Island and back while others visited the Seattle Emergency Operations Center and toured retrofitted URM structures in Pioneer Square. Teams also visited a waterfront field station with lidar scanners and drones hosted by the NHERI-RAPID facility, before returning to the clearinghouse for a live data visualization and debrief session.

Friday also featured the SDC Awards Ceremony, followed by a field trip to the University of Washington campus for SDC participants. Cornell University took first place in the competition, followed by the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca in second place and the University of Victoria in third place. Stay tuned for a full account of the 2024 SDC in the next issue of the Pulse.

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