Tony Shakal to receive the 2020 Alfred E. Alquist Special Recognition Medal

EERI is pleased to announce that Tony Shakal (M.EERI,1980) is the recipient of the 2020 Alfred E. Alquist Special Recognition Medal. The medal is awarded for substantial contributions to the field of seismic safety and earthquake risk reduction, having directly affected the seismic safety of the general population.

Before his retirement this year, Dr. Shakal was the Director of the California Strong Motion Instrumentation Program (SMIP) at the California Geological Survey. He served SMIP for 34 years, and successfully grew and led the program for 29 years. Under his direct supervision and innovative management, SMIP became the largest and most advanced strong-motion network in the United States.

The SMIP also became the largest strong-motion component in the U.S. Geological Survey’s Advanced National Seismic System. In 2006 at the commemoration of the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, SMIP received the Applied Technology Council/Engineering News Record joint award as the Best Seismic Program of the Twentieth Century. 

Under Dr. Shakal’s leadership, SMIP installed over 5,000 accelerometers at nearly 1,200 stations around the State. These seismic monitors were placed in over 850 free-field ground stations, on more than 80 bridges, and more than 240 buildings. Ground motion and structural response data gathered from this network are directly employed in the California Building Code to make structures more earthquake-resilient. 

He also promoted the educational and communication links between the structural engineering and seismological communities through financially supporting an annual conference in which SMIP-sponsored research papers are presented. He was an active member of the standards setting committee at Consortium of Organizations for Strong Motion Observation Systems (COSMOS), and worked closely with Caltrans, and the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development on projects related to earthquake engineering for hospitals.

Dr. Shakal received his engineering education at the University of Wisconsin. The San Fernando earthquake, occurring while he was in graduate school was a career changer, and Tony went on to MIT to pursue a degree in earthquake seismology.