Padgett named NSF BRITE Fellow

Rice professor and department chair receives $1 million grant to rethink disaster resilience modeling.

Jamie Padgett

Jamie Padgett, the Stanley C. Moore Professor in Engineering and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at Rice University, is one of five researchers in the U.S. to be named an NSF BRITE Fellow and receive a five-year, $1 million grant from the NSF Boosting Research Ideas for Transformative and Equitable Advances in Engineering program.

The BRITE Fellows program targets established researchers who are leaders in their field and enables them to pursue high-risk, high-reward research.

“In my case, the grant provides the opportunity to rethink the way we approach disaster resilience modeling, particularly as it pertains to the performance of critical infrastructure in communities,” Padgett said.

Padgett’s proposal is titled “A New Paradigm of Equitable and Smart Multi-Hazard Resilience Modeling.” With the funding, Padgett will develop new methods for infrastructure resilience modeling in response to uncertain, evolving conditions resulting from earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding and other disasters.

Padgett intends to address inequities in data collection and algorithms to create just, intelligent, adaptable models, resulting in more confident predictions. “By embracing this transition toward smart, evolving information,” she said, “we hope to support goals of equitable disaster resilience and climate justice.”

Padgett joined the Rice faculty in 2007 and became CEE department chair on July 1. Padgett’s research has focused on risk assessment of structures and infrastructure exposed to multiple hazards.

Applications of her work include resilience of transportation infrastructure, from bridges to intermodal systems, and industrial infrastructure, including tanks and petrochemical facilities. Her research helps characterize multi-hazard fragility and reveals strategies to enhance resilience from the structure to community scale.

Padgett is a fellow of the Structural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) and was founding chair of its technical committee on Multiple Hazard Mitigation. She received a 2011 NSF CAREER Award and the 2017 ASCE Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize. In 2019 she was named the ASCE Engineering Mechanics Institute’s Objective Resilience Distinguished Lecturer.

Padgett has published more than 200 articles in journals or archived conference proceedings in the field of structural response, reliability and life-cycle assessment. She is a member of several national technical committees within ASCE, including leadership of the Technical Council on Performance, Safety, Reliability and Risk of Structural Systems. Earlier this year she was named to a four-year term on the executive board of the International Association for Structural Safety and Reliability.

The NSF BRITE program is funded by NSF Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation in the NSF Engineering Directorate.