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Daniel L. and Irma Evans Lecture

The Daniel L. and Irma Evans Endowed Lectureship provides an opportunity to deepen the understanding of engineering by exposing students and practicing engineers to the concepts, challenges, concerns and methods they will interact with throughout their careers.

Dan, Roger and Robert Evans established the endowed lecture in 1983 to memorialize and honor the human and broad societal outlook of their parents.

Daniel L. and Irma Evans Lecture 2021

Mitigating Tsunami Risk on the Washington Coast

Thursday, June 3, 3:00 – 4:30pm, PDT


Tsunamis resulting from Cascadia and other Pacific Rim subduction zone earthquakes are the greatest natural hazard for Washington coast residents. Recent and ongoing research at the University of Washington seeks to improve understanding of this hazard and the risk it poses to natural and built environments, develop effective strategies for mitigating risk, and advance efforts to implement mitigation measures. Implementing meaningful mitigation strategies requires integrating geophysical, social, and behavioral sciences, engineering and planning as well as significant community support, financial investment, and political will. 

Four panelists will share their collective expertise in these topics during the 2021 Daniel L. and Irma Evans Lecture. UW faculty members Dan Abramson, Ann Bostrom, and Mike Motley will bring knowledge and expertise from years of research; they will discuss tsunami hazards and risks, the social and economic impact of natural hazard events, risks to coastal infrastructure systems, adaptive community planning, and risk communication and perception. The UW faculty will be joined by Derek Kilmer, United States Congressional Representative for Washington’s 6th District, who will bring his perspective as someone born and raised on the Olympic Peninsula. Kilmer also has experience as a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, where he sees firsthand how federal investments enable communities across the Pacific Northwest to become more resilient against a changing climate.

Panelist bios:

Derek KilmerDerek Kilmer serves as the United States Representative for Washington’s 6th Congressional District. Born and raised in Port Angeles, Derek saw firsthand how the region's economy has struggled, and the impact that has had on families and communities. After college, Derek put his education into practice here in Washington, earning over a decade of experience working in economic development in the Puget Sound region before putting his experience to work in Olympia and Washington, D.C. Derek was reelected to a fifth term in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020 and chosen by his Democratic colleagues to serve on the House Appropriations Committee, one of only four ‘exclusive’ committees in the House. Derek serves on the Interior and Environment Subcommittee, Defense Subcommittee, and Energy and Water Development Subcommittee.

Daniel AbramsonDr. Daniel Abramson is an associate professor in the UW’s Department of Urban Design and Planning. His research focuses on community adaptive planning for disaster recovery and hazard mitigation, in the context of changing regional urban-rural relationships in China, Japan, and the Pacific Northwest. Since 2011, he has participated in a series of earthquake and tsunami resilience projects with coastal Washington communities including Seattle, Makah Tribe, the Cities of Aberdeen and Westport, Shoalwater Bay Tribe, and South Beach, Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties. Most recently, these projects involve planning for different possible Cascadia seismic events and sea level rise using localized scientific models of the hazards, and student-supported design, development, and technological strategy generation with diverse local stakeholders and experts in civil and computer engineering, public policy, architecture, landscape architecture and other fields.

Ann BostromDr. Ann Bostrom is the Weyerhaeuser Endowed Professor in Environmental Policy in the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy & Governance at the UW. Her research focuses on risk — perceptions, communication, assessment and management — and decision making under uncertainty. Using ethnographic, survey, and experimental methods, with interdisciplinary research teams she is currently investigating trustworthy AI for earth sciences; earthquake risk perceptions, preparedness and early warning (with the Social Science Working Group of the ShakeAlert Joint Committee on Communication, Education and Outreach); communicating about advances in Cascadia subduction zone sciences; tropical cyclone forecasts and warnings (with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, for NOAA); and mental models, perceptions and communications about climate change. She was a member of the committee that authored the 2010 National Research Council report on Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts (National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.).

Michael MotleyDr. Michael Motley is the John R. Kiely Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington. His primary research is focused on fluid loading of civil structures and large-scale fluid-structure interactions. Following the series of tsunami events across the Pacific Ocean following the turn of the century, his research has specifically explored tsunami impacts along the Pacific coastline and he is working to improve the resilience of coastal infrastructure through the development and refinement of tsunami loading guidelines in U.S. building codes. Using a combined experimental and numerical approach, Dr. Motley and his team have studied the interactions between tsunami waves and complex, three-dimensional coastal bridges, probabilistic approaches to community resilience, and most recently the interactions between large-scale, wave-induced debris fields and the built environment.

View Past Lecturers