University of Delaware
Ross Corotis

May 8: Kerr Lecture

Corotis to discuss cost of natural disasters, challenges of prevention


9:18 a.m., April 22, 2013--As the incidence and cost of natural disasters continues to rise around the world, engineers and risk professionals face an increasingly difficult job in communicating infrastructure vulnerability and the value of long-term planning to policy makers and the public.

The difficulty: helping decision makers understand the costs of low-probability, high-consequence events — and the costs and benefits of mitigation — in credible, meaningful terms.

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The University of Colorado’s Ross Corotis will discuss the public and political challenges of natural hazard risk prevention as keynote for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s eighth annual Arnold D. Kerr Lecture on Wednesday, May 8, at 4 p.m., in the Trabant University Center Theatre on the University of Delaware campus in Newark.

A reception will precede the lecture at 3 p.m. in the DuPont Hall lobby.

His lecture, titled “Public Perception and Political Challenge of Natural Hazard Risk in the Built Environment,” focuses on five key issues surrounding natural disaster risk prevention, namely public risk perception, public participation in hazard mitigation planning, incorporation of community values, incompatibility of political motivation and long-term planning, and financing of risk and return. 

Corotis is the Denver Business Challenge Professor of Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was also the dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science from 1994-2001. His research focuses on natural disaster risk assessment and the impact these disasters have on the man-made environment.

Among his professional achievements, Corotis is a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and is noted for establishing the civil engineering department at Johns Hopkins University as associate dean. Additionally, he was the science adviser at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., from 2007-08.

He has chaired several structural safety committees, including the executive committee of the International Association for Structural Safety and Reliability, the ASCE and the American Concrete Institute. He is the founding chair of the National Academies Assessment Committee for the National Institute of Standards and Technology

The author of over 200 publications, Corotis was the editor of the ASCE Journal of Engineering Mechanics and the international journal, Structural Safety. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

About the Kerr Lecture

The Kerr Lecture is sponsored by UD's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The engineering mechanics lecture series honors Arnold Kerr, professor emeritus of civil engineering, who was an internationally recognized expert in engineering mechanics, with a particular focus on railway engineering. He retired in 2004 and died in 2012, at the age of 84.

Past lecturers in the Kerr series have included Allan Zarembski, former vice president and general manager at Zeta-Tech; Leon Keer, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northwestern University; and John Kulicki, chairman and CEO of Modjeski and Masters.

Article by Sarah E. Meadows

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