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University of Utah Scientist Named to U.S. Quake Panel


March 1, 2007 — Walter Arabasz, director of the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, is one of two Utah residents named to a panel that will provide advice to the federal program aimed at reducing the earthquake threat to life and property.

The other is Anne R. vonWeller, chief building official for the City of Murray, Utah.

“The good that I can do, particularly from decades of experience in Utah, is to show how greater coordination among the federal agencies involved in the earthquake hazards program can make a real difference in helping state and local governments deal with the problem,” Arabasz said today.

He added: “For more than 20 years, one of my passions has been to help build infrastructure to help monitor earthquakes — nationally, regionally and locally. This [panel] will be a good platform to help secure increased federal funding for seismic monitoring.”

Below is a news release about the advisory panel issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce.


U.S. Department of Commerce

National Institute of Standards and Technology


Contact: Michael E. Newman, (301) 975-3025,

Fifteen Named to Earthquake Hazards Reduction Advisory Committee

William Jeffrey, director of the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has named 15 distinguished academic, industry and government experts to serve on the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction (ACEHR).

Established by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, NEHRP is the federal government’s program to reduce the risks to life and property from earthquakes. NEHRP consists of four federal agencies: the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and NIST. Congress designated NIST as the lead agency for NEHRP in 2004.

The responsibilities of the new independent advisory committee include assessing:

— trends and developments in the science and engineering of earthquake hazards reduction;

— the effectiveness of NEHRP in performing its statutory activities (improved design and construction methods and practices; land use controls and redevelopment; prediction techniques and early-warning systems; coordinated emergency preparedness plans; and public education and involvement programs);

— any need to revise NEHRP; and

— the management, coordination, implementation and activities of NEHRP.

The initial terms for the advisory committee will be staggered, with appointed members listed below serving one, two or three years, with a possible full three-year second term. (After completing two consecutive full terms of service, committee members will need to leave the Board for a full year before being eligible for any additional terms.)

— Jonathan D. Bray, professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, Calif.

— David E. Cook, senior manager/fire chief, Enterprise Fire and Disaster Preparedness, Boeing Co., Seattle, Wash.

— Lloyd S. Cluff, director, Geosciences Department and Earthquake Risk Management Program, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., San Francisco, Calif.

— James R. Harris, president, J.R. Harris and Co., Denver, Colo.

— Paul Somerville, principal seismologist and manager, Seismic Hazards Group, URS Corp., Pasadena, Calif.

— Ronald O. Hamburger, senior principal, Structural Engineering West, Simpson Gumpertz and Heger Inc., San Francisco, Calif.

— Howard Kunreuther, professor, Decision Sciences and Business and Public Policy, and co-director, Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.

— Thomas D. O’Rourke, Thomas R. Briggs Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

— Anne R. vonWeller, chief building official, Murray (Utah) City Corp., and former board of directors president, International Code Council, Bountiful, Utah.

— Yumei Wang, geotechnical engineer and geohazards team leader, Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, Portland, Ore.

— Walter J. Arabasz, research professor, Department of Geology and Geophysics, and director, Seismograph Stations, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

— Richard K. Eisner, regional administrator and manager (retired), California Integrated Seismic Network, and California Earthquake and Tsunami Programs, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Oakland, Calif.

— Chris D. Poland, chairman, president and chief executive officer, Degenkolb Engineers, San Francisco, Calif., who has agreed to serve as the chair of the advisory committee.

— Kathleen J. Tierney, professor, Department of Sociology and Institute of Behavioral Science, and director, Natural Hazards Research and Applications Center, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo.

— Sharon L. Wood, Robert L. Parker Centennial Professor of Engineering, University of Texas, Austin, Texas.

The chairperson of the USGS Scientific Earthquake Studies Advisory Committee (SESAC) will serve in an ex officio capacity on the new committee.

For more information on NEHRP, including biographical information on the advisory committee members, go to

As a non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department’s Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.