Former Director and one of the NCEER founders, Masanobu Shinozuka dies at 87

By Peter Murphy

Published November 21, 2018

Shinozuka served as director of the Center in the 1990s, and was one of its original founders. He was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 1978 for his work in random vibrations and related applications to the safety and reliability of structures.

A legacy in innovation

The National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (NCEER) was the predecessor to the University’s currently multidisciplinary center, MCEER. In addition to serving as director, Shinozuka was also one of the five researchers to write the proposal to NSF that ultimately awarded the national earthquake center to UB and the other associated organizations. Shinozuka and the five researchers, including UB faculty members Robert Ketter and Tsu Teh Soong, Klaus H. Jacob of the Columbia University Earth Institute and Peter Gergely of Cornell, served on the original NCEER Executive Committee.

Shinozuka was an expert in stochastic mechanics, structural safety and reliability, uncertainty, quantification, risk assessment and management methodologies and earthquake and wind engineering. His innovative research earned him many honors throughout several national and international organizations. The American Society of Civil Engineers, ASCE) established a medal to honor him in 2013. According to ASCE, the award is presented “to an individual in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of stochastic mechanics, reliability and risk and simulation.”

ASCE also honored Shinozuka with its Alfred Freudenthal Medal in 1978 and the Theodore von Karman Medal in 1994. He was a distinguished member of the Association and served as president of ASCE’s Engineering Mechanics Division.

Shinozuka earned his PhD from Columbia University, and taught at Columbia and Princeton universities, and at the University of Southern California. He was a distinguished professor at the University of California, Irvine, as well.