CEE Doctoral Student Eun Cha Earns CERRA Recognition Award

Ms. Eun Jeong Cha was named an inaugural recipient of the International Civil Engineering Risk and Reliability Association (CERRA) Student Recognition Award at the 11th International Conference on Applications of Statistics and Probability in Civil Engineering (ICASP 11) held in Zurich, Switzerland on August 1 – 5, 2011.

Ph.D. student Eun Jeong Cha

Eun was recognized for her paper entitled “Decision-making for civil infrastructure exposed to low-probability, high-consequence hazards: the role of risk aversion”. The international jury cited the novelty of her topic, its multidisciplinary approach at the interface between engineering science, technology and public policy, and its potential long-term importance in public decision-making.

Her paper explores the nature of risk aversion embedded in decisions regarding the safety of civil infrastructure that is subjected to extreme natural hazards such as earthquakes, hurricanes, or flooding, and to abnormal events, such as terrorist attack, using analytical and statistical approaches. Eun began by examining  the nature of risk aversion and how it is understood within the insurance industry. From this examination, she was able to draw inferences that are applicable to civil infrastructure decision-making for rare events.

Eun is one of three students honored with the inaugural CERRA Student Recognition Award. The other students recognized include Mahalia Miller of Stanford University and Young Joo Lee of the University of Illinois.

Currently, Eun is pursuing her doctoral degree in structural engineering, mechanics and materials within the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at Georgia Tech. CEE Professor Bruce R. Ellingwood, the Raymond Allen Jones Chair and College of Engineering Distinguished Professor, serves as her advisor. Eun feels very fortunate to work with Dr. Ellingwood stating, "My favorite thing at Georgia Tech is my advisor, Dr. Ellingwood. He really advises me in research, classes, and sometimes even in daily life, if I ask for advice."

Her interest in structural engineering stems from its fundamental science of building concrete objects.  She states, "Since it concerns the structures around us, it's easy to find examples of fundamental theory such as statics, mechanics, dynamics, etc. Cracks on the corner of a building, buckled columns in a fence, broken windows after hurricane, and basically anything you observe in structures around you are examples of what we learn in this discipline. It's fun for me to learn more about the places in which we all live and work. That's why I decided to pursue a graduate degree in structural engineering, to better understand the structures I live in and work in."

After completing her bachelor's degree in architectural engineering at Seoul National University in South Korea, Eun began her doctoral studies at Georgia Tech in 2007. She is from Pusan, the largest port city in South Korea, and has always dreamed of traveling beyond the horizon to see more things, meet more people, and learn from it all.

"Experience is what I am seeking in my life. Ironically, my research is based on simulation techniques, specifically for future natural hazards. We know the potential for damage of these types of events, and simulation techniques actually provide more accurate expectations, allowing better preparation to minimize damage. My ultimate goal is simple: to continue to improve our understanding of structural reliability against hazards in order to build safer structures."

CERRA promotes the education, research and practice of risk and reliability analysis in civil engineering and organizes the ICASP conferences. Held every four years, these events bring together engineers, scientists, educators, researchers, students and practitioners to improve the understanding and management of uncertainty and risk in all aspects of civil engineering. ICASP is considered one of the most prestigious conferences within the field, and the CERRA Student Recognition Award is a testimonial to the scientific contributions and personal merits of student researchers. Congratulations to Eun on this outstanding accomplishment.