Joseph Wartman ’90 CE: Investigating Disasters and Their Aftermath

Joseph Wartman, PhD, ’90 CE

Who: Joseph Wartman, PhD, ’90 CE; H.R. Berg Professor, University of Washington; Director, The Natural Hazards Reconnaissance Facility (RAPID)

Career Path:

  • Before his career in academia, Dr. Wartman practiced as a licensed professional engineer in Pennsylvania and California.
  • He was an associate professor at Drexel University, where he co-directed and founded the Engineering Cities Initiative.
  • Dr. Wartman is a former editor of the American Society of Civil Engineers Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, and the author of over 100 professional articles on hazard and risk assessment, earthquake engineering, sustainable geotechnics, and engineering education.
  • In addition to his scientific publications, Wartman’s essays and op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, Seattle Times, the Conversation, and elsewhere.
  • He founded the Natural Hazards Reconnaissance Facility (the RAPID), which he now serves as principal investigator and director.
    • The RAPID is a National Science Foundation center that supports the collection of perishable field data in the aftermath of major disasters worldwide.
    • Provides the research and practice communities with the state-of-the-art instrumentation, software, and field support services needed to collect, process, and analyze engineering and natural and social science data.

Dr. Wartman’s Honors and Awards:

  • Selection for the U.S. National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering in 2011
  • 2011 Prakash Foundation Research Award
  • 2014 New Zealand Society of Earthquake Engineering’s Commendation Award
  • 2016 Geologic Society of America’s Burwell Award in Geologic Engineering

Today: Dr. Wartman is involved in several international collaborations to examine natural hazard risks posed to refugees in conflict zones and to other populations facing humanitarian crises. He has led and participated in major investigations of natural disasters in North and South America, Asia and Oceania over the past two decades. His current research is developing low-cost, high resolution tools for identifying and mapping geologic hazards. Dr. Wartman teaches natural hazards and engineering geology courses at the University of Washington.

Villanova’s Influence:

Dr. Wartman credits Villanova University with providing him with the liberal arts engineering background required to blend elements of engineering and social science into the RAPID.