Mary Comerio Named 2013 EERI Distinguished Lecturer

Mary C. Comerio, professor in the Graduate School of the Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, has been selected as EERI’s 2013 Distinguished Lecturer. She will present her lecture for the first time in February 2013 during EERI’s 65th Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, on the topic of “Resilience: An Engineering Challenge.” Comerio combines a deep understanding of the technical and socio-economic issues related to earthquakes and other disasters and the built environment. As an architect, she has designed many public and private facilities while also pursuing a productive scientific career focusing on hazards research that has earned her international recognition. She has been a leading researcher on disaster recovery, particularly related to post-disaster housing, publishing both theoretical and empirical works that have significantly advanced our understanding. Seismic rehabilitation of existing buildings and loss modeling are also research areas where Comerio has made significant contributions. Her work has caught the attention of policy groups such as the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), for which she consulted on rebuilding after earthquakes in China and Haiti. The UNEP recognized her efforts with a Green Star Award (see page 6 of the June 2011 Newsletter).

Comerio has played a leading role in furthering EERI’s mission. She served on the Board of Directors 2002-2005 and as a member of the Editorial Board for Earthquake Spectra from 1997-2003. She is currently associate editor of Spectra. She has also been a major contributor to the Learning from Earthquakes Program, having served as a member of reconnaissance teams for earthquakes in L’Aquila, Italy (2009) and in New Zealand (Canterbury in 2010 and Christchurch in 2011, as team leader and co-team leader, respectively).

Comerio earned her B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1973, and completed both her M. Arch. and M.S.W. there in 1977. From her initial appointment in 1978 as an assistant professor at UC Berkeley, she rose to the rank of full professor in 1991 and served as department chair 2006-2009.