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Episode 14 Innovations In Disaster Reconnaissance

What does it mean to do “reconnaissance” after a natural disaster? To find out, host Dan Zehner catches up with Ellen Rathje, an earthquake engineer at the University of Texas, Austin. Among her many interests, Rathje is a founding member and co-chair of the Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance (GEER) Association ( Rathje explains that although she originally wanted to be a journalist, she really liked math in high school. When she learned that civil...


Episode 13 Story Of A Stormchaser

This week Dan meets storm chaser Warren Causey, founder of The Sirens Project. Causey, an engineer with a lifelong passion for weather, studies tornadoes from a safe distance, using unmanned aerial vehicles, drones. In the interview, Causey describes growing up in Georgia and chasing storms in the mountainous Southeast, in Dixie Alley. Hoping to design weather research systems, he studied mechanical engineering, including 3D modeling and drone development. Chemistry gelled with college...


Disaster risk and resilience in Haiti

Host Dan Zehner interviews Crystal Felima, a social anthropologist who focuses on natural hazard risks and recovery in Haiti. She collects stories from residents to better understand the country’s responses to hurricanes, flooding and earthquakes. Currently, Felima is a PhD candidate at the University of Florida at Gainesville. By providing a social understanding of how disasters affect vulnerable populations in Haiti, her work is a bridge to effective technical hazard research. Felima...


Lessons from Irma: Don’t bet your life!

This week, host Dan Zehner catches up with Tom Iovino, the public information director for the Florida Department of Health in Manatee County. Iovino, who mans the county’s emergency operations center during hurricanes, talks about storm preparation in the Tampa Bay area and about what he learned from Hurricane Irma. Although the Florida forecast was dire, precipitating the largest evacuation in the state’s history, Hurricane Irma took an unexpected eastward course, which improved the...


Episode 10 Just To Help Somebody For The Most Pure Reasons Possible

Nick Mrzlak from Team Rubicon joins Dan Zehner to talk about this unusual disaster-relief organization. We learn about the group’s trick of teaming veterans and first responders and its mission to focus on the underserved. With his background of serving in the U.S. Navy, working as an emergency medical technician, teaching EMTs, and volunteering with FEMA, Mrzlak is skilled and eager to help. A volunteer with Team Rubicon since 2010, he’s worked in places like Haiti, where he trained local...


Episode 9 Twister In Real Life

Host Dan Zehner talks with Dr. Jamey Jacob of Oklahoma State University about his research on how tornadoes form using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)to gather data by flying through thunderstorms. This research has been going on since the 1960s, but most of us heard about it during the 1990s with the movie Twister. The real 'Toto' that inspired the movie is actually at the National Weather Service about 60 miles from Dr. Jacob's lab! To find out more about his research, follow him here:...


Episode 8 - We Want To Prevent Natural Hazards From Turning Into Disasters

Host Dan Zehner talks with scientists whose jobs are forecasting and planning for stormsurge and flooding. Coastal engineer Cheryl Ann Blain works in the oceanography division in the Office of Naval Research. David Johnson is a professor of engineering and political science at Purdue University. At the Naval Research Lab in Mississippi, Blain develops storm surge models and forecasts with the ADCIRC tool. She discusses the history and importance of ADCIRC, one of the first hurricane...


Episode 7 The Beast Quake

DesignSafe Radio host Dan Zehner catches up with Dr. John Vidale, renowned geophysicist and seismologist. Until recently, Vidale directed the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network. Now he directs the Southern California Earthquake Center at USCCS. He discusses highlights of his research career. As a college physics student, he became enamored with geology – taking 11 geology courses in his senior year — and went on to study geophysics. He discusses the PNSN study called IMUSH, Imaging Magma...


Episode 6 We Grew Up On An Island Surrounded By Water, So That Calls For Trouble

For two engineering undergrads from Puerto Rico, working on the beach is a dream job. In this week’s edition of DesignSafe Radio, host Dan Zehner meets up with these two students, who took part in NHERI’s 2017 Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. Civil engineering students Hector Colon Delacruz and Peter Rivera Casillas talk to host Dan Zehner about their summer working at Oregon State University’s Hinsdale Wave Lab, one of NHERI’s eight experimental sites. Both students attend...


Harvey Special 3 - Dr Brian Phillips On Wind Speed Measurements

In this special episode on NHERI's response to Hurricane Harvey, I talk with Dr. Brian Phillips from the University of Maryland who traveled with the NHERI team from the University of Florida (led by Dr. Forrest Masters and his colleagues) to deploy truck mounted sensor towers ahead of the storm. They were able to capture ground level wind speed measurements of the eye of the storm as it hit land in Rockport, Texas as a Category 4 hurricane. Their data and other reconnaissance data is...


Irma Special - You Can't Hit A Pause Button On A Disaster

Today on this special episode as Hurricane Irma comes closer, we talk with Tom Iovino, Public Information Director at Florida Department of Health in Manatee County about hurricane preparedness, where to find quality information, and the latest on Irma as the storm approaches. You can find his recommendations for information below: National Hurricane Center: Florida Emergency Management:


Episode 5 There Used To Be Buildings Right There

Profile of Elaina Sutley(, structural engineer and assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Kansas. In her research, she focuses on multiple aspects of designing hazard-proof wood structures, including seismic safety in low-income housing. Sutley relates her “origin story” about becoming a structural engineer — with a public policy bent. She relates the influence of the noted wood-frame researcher John van de Lindt, the principal...


Harvey Special Part 2 - Dr Clint Dawson On Storm Surge Forecasting

On this special episode covering Hurricane Harvey and the NHERI network's commitment to science during this extreme event, host Dan Zehner talks with Dr. Dlint Dawson of the University of Texas at Austin about his team's work in storm surge forecast modelling over his career. They have developed one of only two high fidelity models of coastal storm surge that experts use for forecasting and local officials rely upon for their disaster response. You can find out more about Dr. Dawson's work...


Special Episode - Hurricane Harvey Approaches And NHERI Is Ready Mixdown

Get ready for Hurricane Harvey! If you aren't prepared already, get that way and get safe. Here are some last minute preparations you can do, good sources of information, and how you can help those who are in the path. Hurricane kit: Medication Cash Battery powered radio First aid supplies Bottled water Flashlight Cell phone car charger Credible info sources: National Weather Service: NOAA: Weather Channel:...


Episode 3 Science Works!

Today I talked with Dr. Arindham Chowdhury and Dr. Maryam Refan from the Wall of Wind at Florida International University. Dr. Refan shared some great stories from her research career including how her storm chasing truck got hit with a piece of a wind turbine, creating a tornado in a laboratory setting, and how wind engineering research can focus on using wind to generate energy or prevent damage to structures. I talked to Dr. Chowdhury about how the Wall of Wind got started, the current...


Pedro Lomonaco Interview Mixdown

Here's the full version of my interview with Dr. Pedro Lomonaco from Oregon State University's O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Lab! We went into a few more topics than we could fit into one episode on the full length version of this.


Episode 2 A Tsunami Is Not A Tidal Wave

On today's episode, I talked with Dr. Pedro Lomonaco from Oregon State University about coastal engineering and his work at the Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory. He has a wealth of experience in this area and loves to talk about it! In fact, we had more to talk about than could fit in an episode, so the full interview will be published separately.


Episode 1 When Can I Get Back Into My House

Dr. Julio Ramirez talks about how he got interested in Civil Engineering as a boy following his dad to job sites in Mexico, and has turned that into a career dedicated to designing resilient structures. We talk about the amazing facilities that make up the NHERI network and how the team is bringing together the earthquake, geotechnical, wind, and coastal engineering communities to do multi-hazard research. At the end of the interview he shares a great personal experience with a...