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New School Chair Named for Civil and Environmental Engineering

Reginald DesRoches has been appointed as the new Karen and John Huff Chair in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, at the Georgia Institute of Technology effective May 15, 2012. DesRoches is currently the Dean’s Professor and associate chair in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech.

“Without a doubt, Reggie is the very best person to lead civil and environmental engineering into the future,” said Gary S. May, dean of the College of Engineering. “He is an active researcher and highly regarded educator. Reggie has the vision, scholarship, experience, temperament and outstanding reputation in fields critical to the school that make him ideally suited and prepared to lead.”

As the new chair, DesRoches will oversee a school that is consistently ranked as one of the nation's most prominent programs of its kind in both graduate and undergraduate education. The school was originally established in 1898, and it has become the second largest civil and environmental engineering program in the country with more than 1,250 students and 60 faculty members.  

“I am honored to be chosen as the next school chair, and I look forward to working with an outstanding group of students, faculty, staff and alumni,” said DesRoches.  “This is an exciting time for the civil & environmental engineering profession, and I believe that our program is well positioned to lead in educating and empowering our students to solve future global challenges.”

DesRoches earned his Ph.D. in structural engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. His primary research interests are design of buildings and critical infrastructure subjected to extreme loads, seismic risk assessment of transportation systems, and application of smart materials in seismic-resistant design and retrofit. He has a particular interest in mitigating the impacts of earthquakes in the Caribbean and Central America. He has published more than 200 articles in the general area of earthquake engineering and seismic risk assessment and has given more than 100 presentations in 30 countries.

He is currently the director of the Caribbean Hazards Assessment, Mitigation and Preparedness (CHAMP) Project, which is focused on managing the risks from natural hazards in the Caribbean. DesRoches has served as chair of the ASCE Seismic Effects Committee (2006-2010), chair of the executive committee of the Technical Council on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering (2010), and is a past board member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI). He is currently a member of the executive committee of the National Academy of Sciences Disasters Roundtable, and is on the advisory board for the Natural Disasters, Coastal Infrastructure and Emergency Management Research Center (DIEM).

DesRoches has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2002, the 2007 ASCE Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize, the Georgia Tech Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Advisor Award (2010), the Georgia Engineer of the Year in Education Award (2012) and the Georgia Tech ANAK Award (2008). The ANAK award is considered among the highest honors that the undergraduate student body can bestow on a Georgia Tech faculty member. He is a three-time invitee to the National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering program (2002, 2004, 2009).

The College of Engineering at Georgia Tech is the largest of its kind in the country with more than 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled. The School of Civil and Environmental Engineering ranks in the top ten in undergraduate and graduate engineering education by U.S. News and World Report.