Keynote Speakers

Chris D. Poland
Mauro Dolce

Invited Speakers

Mary Comerio
Dr Paul Somerville



Chris D. Poland, SE, NAE

Chris Poland is a world renowned authority on earthquake engineering and champion of disaster resilience, Chris Poland’s passion for vibrant, sustainable, and healthy communities drives his consulting engineering practice. He focuses on community resilience and the buildings and systems that contribute to it.

Chris is the past Chair of the US Advisory Committee to the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, and current Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Structural Safety of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Facilities. He was Chair of the 100th Anniversary Earthquake Conference in San Francisco in April 2006, an internationally covered event that brought the US to think proactively about earthquake danger. He served as the Chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers Seismic Rehabilitation of Existing Buildings Standards Committee completing multiple editions of both ASCE 31 and ASCE 41, standards for the evaluation and rehabilitation of existing buildings that are used worldwide.

Chris has served on the Board of Directors for SPUR, co-chaired their Resilient City Initiative and led the publication of “The Disaster Resilient City”. He is a past President, Treasurer, and Director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Instituted and is currently a member of the Seismic Resilience Panel that oversees the institutes NSF Resilient Observatory Grant.  He also served on the Board for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and  was the founding co-chair of the San Francisco Lifelines Council with Mayor  Edwin Lee from 2009 through 2014. Chris is a former Vice-Chairman of the American Council of Engineering Companies, member of the Board of Governors of the ASCE Structural Engineering Institute and was recently appointed to the Executive Committee overseeing the new ASCE Infrastructure Resilience Division.

Chris is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering (2009), a Fellow of the American Council of Engineering Companies, the Structural Engineers Association of California and the American Society of Civil Engineers Structural Engineering Institute. He is also an honorary member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and the Structural Engineers Association of California. Awards Chris has been given include: the HJ Brunier Award for Excellence in Design; the 2006 Alfred E. Alquist Medal; and a number of ACEC National Awards.

His structural engineering career spans over 42 years and includes hundreds of projects related to the design of new buildings, seismic analysis and strengthening of existing buildings, structural failure analysis, historic preservation, as well as the development of guidelines and standards that are used worldwide. He was a Senior Principal, Chairman and CEO of Degenkolb Engineers during his 40 years with the firm from 1974 through 2014.

Currently, Chris is a Disaster Resilience Fellow in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and member of the team of authors that developed a Community Resilience Planning Guide (2015). His role is related to defining and preparing the over-arching guidance for the development of Community Disaster Resilience Plans by local communities. That framework is the initiating document for the NIST Community Resilience Program that will include the development of related standards, analytical tools, and model guidelines for use by US cities nationwide to address the natural disasters they face. This work will be the subject of Chris’s keynote address to the NZSEE 2016 Christchurch conference.


 Mauro Dolce

Mauro Dolce is Professor of Structural Engineering (1994-) at the University of Naples Federico II (2007-) and is a Director General at the Italian Civil Protection Department (CPD) within the offices of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers  (2006-), where he was Director of the Seismic and Volcanic Risk Office (2006-2012) and is now Chief Technical Advisor to the CPD Head (2012-).

As the head of the Seismic and Volcanic Risk Office, he coordinated the Civil Protection monitoring, prevention and mitigation activities in the field of the seismic and volcanic risks. He coordinated the technical management in the emergency of the 06.04.09 M6.1 Abruzzi Earthquake and the 20-29.05.2012 M5.8 Emilia Earthquake. He has also been coordinating the Italian seismic structural prevention programs (art. 11 of Law 77/2010) and the relationships of DPC with the scientific competence centres for seismic risk.

Research activities carried out in his academic involvement since 1978, have been mainly related to Earthquake Structural Engineering, as well as Seismic Vulnerability and Risk assessment, resulting in about 400 scientific papers, 12 books, 8 volumes (as editor) and 8 patents of antiseismic devices and systems.

He has been member and convenor of several national and international committees for structural engineering standards.

He was vice-president of the European Association of Earthquake Engineering (2010-2014) and is currently a member of its Executive Committee (2002-). He is  the Italian delegate (2008-) and President of the Governing Board of GEM (Global Earthquake Model) Foundation (2015-). He led (2011-12) the international expert group on the “Rationale and Feasibility of a Global Risk Modelling Initiative” for the Global Science Forum of OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development).


Invited Speakers

Mary Comerio

Mary Comerio

Mary Comerio is an internationally recognized expert on disaster recovery. She joined the faculty in the Department of Architecture at U. C. Berkeley in 1978 and served as Chair of the Department from 2006-2009.  As an architect, she has designed numerous public and private facilities including market rate and affordable housing.  Her research focuses on the costs and benefits of seismic rehabilitation (particularly housing), post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, and loss modelling.  She is the author of Disaster Hits Home: New Policy for Urban Housing Recovery and hundreds of other research reports and scientific papers. In 2011, she received the Green Star Award from the United Nations for her work in post-disaster reconstruction in China and Haiti. In 2013, she received the U. C. Berkeley Chancellor’s Award for Public Service for Research in the Public Interest, and the EERI Distinguished Lecturer Award.


Comerio led the FEMA sponsored Disaster Resistant University Program from 1998-2002. Her research, together with the UC Berkeley campus seismic rehabilitation program, was recognized by Engineering News Record as one of the ten best seismic planning projects in the United States in 2006, and by the EERI Northern California Chapter in 2012. Comerio also co-led the Building Systems Research at the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Centre, a multi-institutional research centre headquartered at UC Berkeley. Comerio has recently completed work on a NSF Grand Challenge project focused on the mitigation of collapse risk in nonductile concrete buildings. She co-led the PEER/EERI reconnaissance teams after two major earthquakes in New Zealand and conducted a review of the housing recovery in Chile for the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and the United Nations Development Program. She continues to consult internationally on disaster recovery and resilience planning.


Dr Paul SomervillePaul Sommerville

Dr Paul Somerville was born in Armidale, NSW, Australia and received his B.Sc. degree in Geophysics from the University of New England.  He received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Geophysics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.  He spent two years as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo, and has been involved with Japanese colleagues in engineering seismology research for his whole career. Paul is Principal Seismologist for AECOM, where he does research and development on earthquake source and strong ground motion prediction models. He has applied these skills in the design and analysis of major buildings, bridges, dams and power generation facilities in many countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Japan.  He is also Chief Geoscientist at Risk Frontiers, Macquarie University, where he constructs earthquake loss models and does related research for the insurance industry and other clients. Paul is currently President of the Australian Earthquake Engineering Society and is involved in updating the seismic guidelines for ANCOLD (the Australian National Committee on Large Dams).