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Laura Lowes named PSEC Academic Engineer of the Year


February 19, 2020

Laura Lowes

Laura Lowes

CEE chair and professor Laura Lowes has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 PSEC Academic Engineer of the Year Award. The honor recognizes her significant contributions to the state of earthquake engineering practice through advancements in research, new technologies and engineering education.

During her 18-year tenure at UW, Lowes has advanced the seismic design of structures through research that employs computational modeling to investigate the behavior and design of reinforced concrete structures for earthquake loading. Recent projects have focused on developing structural modeling tools and recommendations for use by practicing engineers to advance the design of reinforced concrete walls, which are the earthquake load resisting system used in most of the high-rise buildings in Seattle and on the West Coast.

“She employs a unique knowledge base and skill set that includes expertise in development and application of numerical models. Specifically, she uses laboratory testing and numerical simulation to develop recommendations for advancing design codes and standards,” according to PSEC’s announcement.

Working to bring new technologies to the forefront, Lowes is involved in three National Science Foundation funded research centers, which are part of a larger $50 million Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) initiative. With the objective of enhancing the resiliency of buildings and other infrastructure during natural disasters, a network of shared research centers was established at universities across the nation in 2016.

Lowes is involved in the leadership of the UW CEE-based Post-Disaster Rapid Response Research Center, which provides equipment and tools to enable the collection of high-quality data in the aftermath of natural hazard events; the Cyberinfrastructure Center, where a Web-based data repository, calledDesignSafe-CI, allows various natural hazard research teams to share and archive experimental and simulation data; and the Computational Modeling and Simulation Center, for which Lowes serves as co-PI, which is advancing natural hazards simulation. Through her role with this center, Lowes is also leading an effort to facilitate the adoption of simulation tools as educational tools in the classroom and has established multiple webinar series to inform the natural hazards engineering community about the state of the art in earthquake engineering.

Lowes accepted her award at a ceremony on February 15, together with two other awardees from the UW CEE community: Andrew Taylor, Ph.D., P.E., S.E. (MSCE ’85), who received the Professional Engineer of the Year Award in recognition of his exceptional career as a structural engineer focused on earthquake engineering, structural engineering of reinforced concrete buildings, structural vibrations, and building code development; and Kristina Low, P.E. (BSCE ’15, MSCE ’16), who received the Kenneth W. Porter Award in recognition of her many contributions to the education of K-12 students by showing them the exciting opportunities available in engineering.