UB earthquake engineers build influence in New York - Northeast region

By Peter Murphy

Published February 25, 2019

Two engineers with University at Buffalo ties now sit on the board of directors for the New York – Northeast (NYNE) Region of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI).

“My vision for the board is to have a dialogue on this issue within our earthquake community that spans many disciplines and geographic locations.”
Sissy Nikolaou, Principal, Multi-Hazards & Geotechnical Engineering, WSP
UB alumna
Sissy Nikolaou outside of the empire state building.

SUNY Distinguished Professor, director of the Institute of Bridge Engineering and MCEER, Andrew Whittaker, was recently appointed to the Board of Directors for EERI NYNE. He will join Sissy Nikolaou (MS ’95, PhD ’98), who is president of the EERI NYNE board.

Nikolaou was a founding member of both the EERI NYNE chapter, and the student chapter at UB. She also served as director of the national EERI for four years. This is Whittaker’s second stint with EERI. He served on the international board of directors for the Institute from 2008 – 2011.

“My vision for the board is to have a dialogue on this issue within our earthquake community that spans many disciplines and geographic locations,” Nikolaou says.

The NYNE chapter has become one of the most active regional chapters of EERI, and its members have established strong ties with UB. This chapter developed the EERI-NYNE Travel Grant to help fund UB’s earthquake engineering symposium and the UB EERI professional field trips to New York City. This program, established in 2015, helps “introduce students to engineering consulting firms and culture, foster direct links between UB and firms for internship and employment opportunities, enhance the learning experience through real-world large-scale projects, and provide students with a chance to network with practicing engineers,” Nikolaou says.

With Whittaker’s addition to the board, NYNE EERI is “looking to expand our membership and work on technical aspects, such as identifying risks and solutions for unreinforced masonry (URM) structures,” Nikolaou says, “Andrew has been working with UB assistant professor Andreas Stavridis, and collaborating with the New York City office of emergency management and consultants in my firm, WSP to simulate and analyze real case studies to bring solutions and resiliency guidelines to protect masonry facilities.”

Outside of her work with EERI, Nikolaou is involved with the School Earthquake Safety Initiative (SESI), and the new Learning from Earthquake (LFE) program. “This program is particularly close to my heart,” Nikolaou says, “it allows students and younger members to connect to communities that have been struck by an earthquake, and understand the impact on the economy and society.”