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Bruneau, Meidinger named SUNY Distinguished Professors

Headshots of Michel Bruneau and Errol Meidinger.

Michel Bruneau (left) and Errol Meidinger were appointed SUNY Distinguished Professors at the Board of Trustees meeting on Nov. 15.  


Published November 28, 2018


UB faculty members Michel Bruneau and Errol Meidinger have been named SUNY Distinguished Professors, the highest faculty rank in the SUNY system.

They were among 14 SUNY faculty members appointed to the distinguished professor ranks by the SUNY Board of Trustees at its meeting on Nov. 15.

The rank of distinguished professor is an order above full professorship and has three co-equal designations: distinguished professor, distinguished service professor and distinguished teaching professor.

Bruneau and Meidinger were named distinguished professors in recognition of their international prominence and distinguished reputations within their chosen fields. According to SUNY, “this distinction is attained through significant contributions to the research literature or through artistic performance or achievement in the case of the arts. The candidate’s work must be of such character that the individual’s presence will tend to elevate the standards of scholarship of colleagues both within and beyond these persons’ academic fields.”

A professor in UB’s Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Bruneau conducts research on the evaluation and retrofit of existing steel bridges and buildings subjected to large destructive forces up to collapse, as well as the development of new design concepts capable of providing satisfactory seismic resistance, blast resistance or both simultaneously as multi-hazard resistant concepts.

While his research on ductile steel plate shear walls over the past 15 years has generated new knowledge and multiple design recommendations similarly implemented in design specifications, Bruneau’s research also has more broadly encompassed contributions to the development and large-scale experimental validation of various other energy-dissipating design concepts to enhance the resilience of structures against extreme events, such as ductile bridge diaphragms, tubular eccentrically braced frames, structural fuses and controlled-rocking piers.

Some of his innovative design concepts have been implemented in structures worldwide, among them the $1 billion temporary supports of the new San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge East Span and a 56-story high rise being designed in Seattle.

Bruneau is a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and a member of various American Institute of Steel Construction and Canadian Standards Association committees tasked with developing design specifications for bridges and buildings. He has conducted numerous reconnaissance visits to disaster stricken areas, as well as serving as director (2003-08) and deputy director (1998-2003) of UB’s Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER).  

He has authored or co-authored more than 500 publications, including more than 140 referred journal papers, 230 papers in conference proceedings and three works of fiction. He is lead author of “Ductile Design of Steel Structures,” which is widely used by structural engineers worldwide and considered an important reference for the seismic design of steel structures. He has received several awards for his technical work, as well as for his novels.

Meidinger serves as the Margaret W. Wong Professor of Law and director of the law school’s Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, a nationally recognized focal point for interdisciplinary research and teaching. He is a nationally and internationally renowned scholar and widely respected expert in environmental and natural resources law.

Meidinger currently teaches courses in environmental law, international environmental law, international business transactions and property, as well as a seminar on “Advanced Law and Society Research.”

Most of his scholarship has focused on efforts to reform regulation and public governance. His past research analyzed the rise of “emissions trading” in U.S. air pollution regulation, efforts to better incorporate science in public land management decisions, the growing importance on private enforcement in environmental law, the movement for “ecosystem management” in natural resource governance and the rise of sustainable forest-management certification for wood products.

His current research focuses on initiatives aimed at transforming economic relationships to better protect people and nature. These include the rise of human rights responsibilities for business, the developing practice of “sustainable supply chain management” in transnational supply networks, and the incorporation of social and environmental protection requirements in trade agreements.

He is particularly interested in understanding and improving how various public and private actors interact in defining and implementing emerging public responsibilities, and is a co-organizer of the Transnational Business Governance Interactions (TBGI) research network.

Meidinger is co-editor of three books on environmental law, including the forthcoming “The Big Thaw: Policy, Governance and Climate Change in the Circumpolar North” (SUNY Press) with UB colleagues Ezra Zubrow and Kim Dianna Connolly, as well as the author of more than 40 journal articles and book chapters.

A UB faculty member since 1982, Meidinger has been a Distinguished Environmental Scholar at Lewis and Clark Law School, and a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of Freiburg in Germany, where he is Honorary Professor of Environment and Natural Resources.

He also holds an appointment as adjunct professor of sociology at UB, and was founding director of UB’s Environment and Society Institute.