BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Andrew S. Whittaker, PhD, a University at
Buffalo professor and an internationally recognized expert in
earthquake and blast engineering, has been elected as director of
MCEER, a national center of excellence focused on multi-hazard
Headquartered at UB, MCEER is committed to the discovery and
development of new knowledge, tools and technologies that increase
the resilience of communities and infrastructure during extreme
events, such as earthquakes and hurricanes.
A UB faculty member since 2001, Whittaker becomes the sixth
director in the center's 25-year history.
"Andrew Whittaker's extensive background in earthquake and blast
engineering will further strengthen MCEER's mission as a
multidisciplinary, multi-hazard engineering center. We are pleased
to have him as MCEER's next director," said Rajan Batta, PhD,
acting dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at
Whittaker, UB professor and chair of civil, structural and
environmental engineering, was elected to the position by the MCEER
Management Council, consisting of UB faculty that lead MCEER
"Being a part of MCEER and working alongside such remarkable
talent in one of the world's most versatile experimental facilities
is what initially drew me to UB 10 years ago. To be listed among
their leaders is both humbling and gratifying," said Whittaker.
Whittaker succeeds Andre Filiatrault, PhD, UB professor of
civil, structural and environmental engineering, a leading expert
on shake-table testing of structural and nonstructural building
components who led MCEER in advancing its expanded scope of
multi-hazard engineering and disaster resilience. Filiatrault is
stepping down after three years to pursue research interests.
Under Whittaker's leadership MCEER "will continue to draw upon
our earthquake engineering roots to develop engineering solutions
that advance resilience in the face of a variety of hazards that
plague our nation's infrastructure," he said.
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and
Hurricane Katrina in 2005, research revealed that the knowledge,
tools and technologies developed in earthquake engineering could
advance infrastructure resilience against other hazards and extreme
events, both natural and man-made. Consequently, MCEER's mission
was expanded to embrace these new challenges, Whittaker said.
"Subsequent studies have tested the efficacy of innovative,
earthquake resistant bridge columns when subjected to blast loads,
as well as the application of earthquake-protection systems to
improve resilience of nuclear power facilities against earthquakes
and such cascading hazards as tsunami," he noted.
"Here in Western New York, development of the UB/MCEER
Experimental Campus for Large Infrastructure Protection,
Sustainability and Enhancement (ECLIPSE Campus) has provided unique
full-scale testing capabilities for research, development and
evaluation of innovative technologies that improve resilience and
contribute to the intelligent renewal of our nation's
infrastructure," he added. "And a collaborative project with the
Structural Engineers Association of New York is helping us evaluate
and reduce earthquake vulnerability in New York City's masonry
buildings, many of which are more than a century old."
A structural-engineering expert in the seismic resilience of
nuclear power structures, Whittaker is recognized for his work on
the blast analysis of nuclear power infrastructures. He has
conducted extensive research on the fragility of conventional and
isolated power plants, risk assessment procedures, modular
composite construction for Generation III+ plants and proposed
designs for Generation IV reactors. He has served on various
national professional committees addressing the seismic safety of
nuclear power facilities.
As the immediate past director of UB's SEESL, one of 14 member
labs of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) George E. Brown Jr.
Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), Whittaker
brings substantial experience in earthquake engineering and
organizational leadership to his new MCEER post. Since 2005, he has
served as president of the Consortium of Universities for Research
in Earthquake Engineering (CUREE), a U.S. not-for-profit
corporation whose membership includes 26 research universities and
280 affiliated faculty devoted to the advancement of earthquake
engineering research, education and implementation.
He has served on the board of directors for the Earthquake
Engineering Research Institute (EERI) from 2008 to 2010 and
currently serves on the board of directors for the World Seismic
Safety Initiative (WSSI).
In the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks,
Whittaker was a member of a three-person MCEER-NSF reconnaissance
team that collected forensic data at Ground Zero.
He is a licensed structural engineer in the state of California
and is a member of several American Society of Civil Engineers
(ASCE) committees that address structural loads, blast engineering
and earthquake protective systems.
Whittaker reviews research proposals for the NSF, Canadian
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Australian
Research Council and the University of Cyprus. He reviews
manuscripts for the American Society of Civil Engineers (Journals
of Structural Engineering, Engineering Mechanics, and Wind
Engineering & Industrial Aerodynamics), the Earthquake
Engineering Research Institute, Earthquake Engineering and
Structural Dynamics, the Journal of Earthquake Engineering, Nuclear
Engineering and Design, the Structural Design of Tall Buildings,
and the Journal of Sound and Vibration; and reviews papers for
national and international conferences on earthquake, blast and
He has authored or co-authored seven textbook chapters and more
than 60 refereed journal articles, earning "Best Paper Award" three
He also teaches and acts as advisor and examiner to numerous PhD
and master's students at UB.
Whittaker holds an undergraduate degree in civil engineering
from the University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and a
master's degree and doctorate in civil engineering from the
University of California at Berkeley.
He and his family reside in Williamsville, N.Y.
Founded in 1986, the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake
Engineering Research headquartered at the University at Buffalo is
a national center of excellence in advanced technology applications
dedicated to reducing losses from earthquake and other hazards
nationwide. One of three such centers in the nation established by
the National Science Foundation, MCEER has been funded principally
over the past two decades, with more than $67 million from NSF;
more than $47 million from the State of New York and more than $34
million from the Federal Highway Administration. Additional support
comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, other state
governments, academic institutions, foreign governments and private
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.