In light of the fifth-worst earthquake in the world since 1900 recently hitting Japan and the ensuing nuclear fallout, University of Houston (UH) professors can offer perspective on this sizable event. As you seek experts on this topic, keep in mind these resources from UH. For more information, or if you are unable to reach a professor, contact Lisa Merkl at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-743-8192.
THE EARTH’S MANTLE AND OTHER GEOLOGICAL SECRETS
Having pulled some of the oldest rocks on the planet from the sea floor near the North Pole, Jonathan Snow is both an ocean scientist and geologist who does extensive research in Japan. He can talk about any topics related to the Earth’s mantle, as well as address basic geological questions about recent events related to earthquakes and tsunamis. Contact him at email@example.com or 713-743-5312.
RECORDING EARTHQUAKES, INSTALLING MOTION SENSOR SYSTEMS
Geophysicist and seismologist Rob Stewart has done earthquake field work, installing motion sensor systems and recording earthquakes, in a number of seismically active areas around the world. Among them include the Andes in Peru, the Tien Shan mountains in Tajikistan and around nuclear reactors in Maine. He also led an effort that built a landslide early warning system in the Rocky Mountains. He taught a natural hazards and disasters course at the University of Calgary for 10 years, as well as having taught geophysics in Japan several times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-743-8230.
A TALE OF EARTHQUAKE MACHINES AND REBUILDING CITIES
Civil engineering professors Yi-Lung Mo and Thomas Hsu work as a team testing the strength of reinforced concrete under earthquake-like conditions. Their research uses a large machine housed at UH that stands more than 15-feet tall and weighs nearly 40 tons. The data he collects is used to predict the behavior of concrete structures when threatened by earthquakes. Additionally, Mo formerly worked at the National Center for Research on Earthquake Engineering in Taipei, Taiwan, and can discuss what it takes to rebuild a city following a massive earthquake. Contact Mo at email@example.com or 713-743-4274 and Hsu at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-743-4268.
MEASURING RADIATION DOSES ACCURATELY
Larry Pinsky, a John and Rebecca Moores Professor and chair of the physics department, is in daily contact with colleagues at the National Institute for Radiological Sciences in Chiba, Japan, and can address questions about the nuclear disaster. Pinsky has a long career in nuclear and elementary particle physics, as well as having been trained as a cosmic ray astrophysicist. He actively participates in research at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Laboratory for Nuclear Physics in Geneva, Switzerland, and has been asked by NASA to work on the development of new dosimeters for use by astronauts based on the technology developed at CERN. He also has experience developing simulation tools to model radiation environments both in space and at ground-based facilities. He recently established a research program related to this new dosimeter technology at Japan’s National Institute for Radiological Sciences and travels there to work at that facility several times a year. Contact him at email@example.com or 713-743-3552.
NUCLEAR PHYSICIST ANSWERS RADIATION QUESTIONS
As a nuclear physicist, Ed V. Hungerford is an M.D. Anderson Professor of Physics at UH and can address questions about the nuclear disaster in Japan. With more than 30 years teaching and undertaking research in nuclear and particle physics, Hungerford’s degree is in low-energy nuclear physics involving radioactive decay. Having done research at the Oak Ridge, Los Alamos and Brookhaven National Laboratories, he is involved in numerous international collaborations with such countries as Japan, China and Korea. He currently does active work at the Fermi National Laboratory, the Japanese National Laboratory for High Energy Physics and the National Laboratory for Underground Physics in Italy. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-743-3549.
AVOIDING NUCLEAR TRAGEDY THROUGH PLANT INFRASTRUCTURE
The nuclear disaster unfolding in Japan threatens to be as devastating as the earthquake and tsunami that already have rocked the country. A resilient and well-designed infrastructure at such plants is one of the surest ways to prevent and avoid massive releases of radiation. Tom Hsu, Moores Professor of Civil Engineering, has long been a leader in the understanding of structural behavior of infrastructure systems for nuclear power plants. In December 2010, Hsu served as chairman of the International Workshop on Infrastructure Systems for Nuclear Energy, which was held in Taiwan. UH’s Cullen College of Engineering also is home to Kaspar Willam, a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Willam is an expert in the analysis of nuclear containment structures. He has conducted extensive work on how the extremely high temperatures caused by an event at a nuclear power plant – reaching into the thousands of degrees – affect the concrete containment units designed to be the final barriers to a catastrophic release of radiation. He was the head of a large-scale research and development effort on pre-stressed concrete reactor vessels at the University of Stuttgart. Contact Hsu at email@example.com or 713-743-4268. Contact Willam at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-743-1461.
DRINKING WATER SYSTEMS, AIR POLLUTION
Shankar Chellam is a professor of civil and environmental engineering and chemical and biomolecular engineering who performs research related to both drinking water and air pollution. Chellam’s research focuses on advanced filtration and disinfection methods to purify contaminated water supplies, especially the use of membrane filters to remove suspended solids, microorganisms and heavy metals. He also characterizes particulate matter emissions from petroleum refineries to ambient air. A unique aspect of his research is that he focuses on short-lived episodic emissions from refineries that can elevate aerosol concentrations over extended distances. Chellam can discuss issues related to supplying clean drinking water when centralized facilities have been shut down. He also can address fundamental questions related to water purification techniques, airborne particles and human health. Contact Chellam at email@example.com or 713-743-4265. Learn more about his research at http://www.egr.uh.edu/cive/faculty/chellam/.
GEOLOGICAL FAULTS THREATEN HOUSTON
Shuhab Khan, assistant professor of geology at UH, has found more than 300 surface faults in Harris County, providing information that could be vitally useful to builders and city planners. He uses advanced radar-like laser technology to produce comprehensive maps pinpointing the locations of the faults. He also can address basic geological questions about recent events related to earthquakes and tsunamis. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-743-3411.
DO’S AND DON’TS OF DISASTER RELIEF
Tom DeGregori, a professor of economics at UH, deals extensively with our capability for anticipating and countering famine, disease and other natural disasters. He specializes in humanitarian aid and has analyzed the economic impacts of natural disasters for decades. Contact him at email@example.com or 713-743-3838.
FORCES OF NATURE: TECTONIC PLATES
Tectonic plates inch along their journeys around the surface of the Earth. UH tectonics professors study the relative motions of these plates, which lead to earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis. To learn more about tectonics, contact professors Kevin Burke at firstname.lastname@example.org, John Dewey at email@example.com or Jack Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SURVIVORS STRUGGLING WITH POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS
Patrick Bordnick, an associate professor at the UH Graduate College of Social Work, runs a lab equipped with a “virtual worlds” simulator used to treat victims of natural disasters suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Contact him at email@example.com or 713-743-2086.
READING BETWEEN THE FAULT LINES
Michael Murphy, associate professor of structural geology, is dedicated to understanding the core of tectonics and structural geology. By utilizing an array of data, Murphy is able to examine the domino effect produced by shifting tectonic plates and leverage his findings to predict future earthquakes. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-743-3413.
LONGTIME EARTHQUAKE TEACHER, SEISMOLOGIST
Aibing Li, an associate professor in geophysics and seismology has taught earthquake classes for several years. As a seismologist, she has been using earthquake data in her researches to understand the earth structure. In addition to collecting earthquake data by putting seismometers in the northeastern United States and northeastern Tibet, she also has set up a seismic station on the UH campus. Contact her at email@example.com or 713-743-9313.
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