Ph.D. Student Ramanathan Awarded 2010/2011 Sam Nunn Fellowship

Karthik N. Ramanathan, third year doctoral student in structural engineering, was recently named a Sam Nunn Fellow for the 2010/2011 academic year as part of the Sam Nunn Security Program at Georgia Tech. Funded by the MacArthur Foundation’s Science, Technology, and Security Initiative, the Sam Nunn Security Program seeks to advance the role of scientific and technical advice on issues of international security through education, research, outreach activities, and participation in the policy advisement process.

As a civil engineer specializing in structural engineering, Karthik sees infrastructure and life line components as a crucial part of international security, especially as it relates to disaster management and economic development. His doctoral research focuses on highway bridges, an elaborate and common component of infrastructure. Having evaluated their seismic vulnerability and the devastating impact that their failure can have on economic recovery and growth, various guidelines geared towards bridge protection and security can be issued. His work is a part of project sponsored by the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) that considers the overall seismic risk of highway bridges in the state of California. The major goal of the project is to develop risk assessment tools to aid in the decision-making process.

Karthik earned his BS in civil engineering from Osmania University in Hyderabad, India, and an MS in structural engineering, mechanics and materials from the University of Pittsburgh. He began his doctoral degree in 2008 and Professor Reginald DesRoches serves as his primary advisor. Dr. Jamie Padgett, assistant professor at Rice University, serves as his co-advisor. Karthik developed his interest in structural engineering while in India, and the more he learned about the field, the more it fascinated him. He states "civil engineering is truly multidisciplinary and the mother of all engineering fields. I certainly want to leave a mark." Upon graduating with his doctoral degree, Karthik wants to find an industry job that is geared towards R&D. Eventually, he would like to move into academia back home in India. When he is not doing research, Karthik runs about four miles every day. He also enjoys reading, listening to soft Indian music, and spending time with his office mates.

The Sam Nunn Security Program is committed to educating scientists and engineers about national security issues and providing the analytical tools they need to interact with the policy community. The competitive program selects young and mid-career scientists and technology experts for intensive year-long training in research approaches and policy formulation methods for addressing national and international security issues. This competitive program accepts between 8-12 fellows every fall. For additional informaation, visit: