Civil Engineering Professor on National Academies Committee to Improve Resilience of Transportation Systems

Henry Burton

UCLA Samueli
Henry Burton

Aug 31, 2021

UCLA Samueli Newsroom
Henry Burton, UCLA’s Englekirk Presidential Endowed Chair in Structural Engineering, was appointed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to serve on the 12-person Transportation Resilience Metrics Committee commissioned by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to develop a report on “Investing in Transportation Resilience.”

For the past two years, the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering professor was part of the team charged with helping find effective ways to measure the resilience of transportation systems and services to natural hazards and other potential disruptions.

Investing in Transportation ResilienceEarlier this month, the committee released its consensus report, addressing a broad swath of transportation systems — roads, railroads, public transit, airports, maritime hubs, inland waterways — and the infrastructure that keeps those systems running.

The report offered five recommendations for Congress and the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, including a requirement for all federally funded transportation projects to account for worsening natural hazards and environmental conditions caused by climate change. The committee also detailed the benefits and costs of various approaches, with recommendations for the types of high-quality data that can be used to assess the viability of each solution.

The committee consists of experts in the fields of multimodal transportation infrastructure, transportation policy and decision making, resilience, economics, and risk analysis, who volunteered their time to participate in the study. Burton, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, specializes in structural reliability, performance-based earthquake engineering and urban resilience. His research group focuses on reducing the societal and technological impacts of natural hazards.

“It has been great working with a multidisciplinary team of experts with different perspectives,” Burton said. “The study benefited from a diverse set of experiences and expertise as we deliberated on the most practical and thoughtful solutions that will address the needs of our communities.”

In January, Burton received an award for his proposal in the University of California Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives competition. He is the lead principal investigator of the California Informatics for Equitable Disaster Response and Recovery project, which will develop a more informed and equitable response to natural disasters in the state. The team, which also includes colleagues from other UC campuses, received $262,428 over two years to conduct a pilot study of impacts from recent California earthquakes and floods, creating models that incorporate real-time data from multiple sources to inform and expedite the state’s response.

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