Academy of Distinguished Alumni

Mary Comerio

Mary C. Comerio B.A., M.S.W., M.Arch.

Inducted to the Academy of Distinguished Alumni as an Honorary Member on

Mary C. Comerio was elected as an Honorary Member of the CEE Academy of Distinguished Alumni. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1973, and Masters of Social Work and Masters of Architecture in 1977, all from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri. In 1978, she joined the faculty of the Department of Architecture within the College of Environmental Design at U.C. Berkeley. Having held positions as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Department, Professor Comerio presently holds the title, Professor of the Graduate School.

Professor Comerio has had a career-long commitment to earthquake safety, and to building bridges between the Departments of Architecture and Civil and Environmental Engineering that have benefited both greatly. She is an internationally recognized expert on disaster recovery. Her research focus is on seismic rehabilitation, post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, loss modeling, and resilience-based design. She is a past president of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI). She is currently on the FEMA-NIST working group mandated by recent national legislation to develop options for new functional recovery standards and practices.

She led the FEMA-sponsored Disaster Resistant University Program at Berkeley. This research supported the Berkeley campus seismic rehabilitation program. Her work was recognized in 2006 by Engineering News Record as one of the ten best seismic-planning projects in the U.S.

Professor Comerio led the Building Systems Research Program in the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center during the ten years when PEER was one of three National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded national earthquake centers. She made major contributions to an NSF Grand Challenge project focused on the mitigation of collapse risk in nonductile concrete buildings.  She led the EERI/PEER reconnaissance teams for two major earthquakes in New Zealand and conducted a review of the housing recovery program in Chile for the Chilean Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and the United Nations Development Program.

Professor Comerio is being inducted as an Honorary Member of the Academy for her distinguished career as an internationally respected expert on earthquake risk, resilience, and disaster recovery; for her research and academic contributions that bridge our technical understanding of earthquake impacts and their social and economic consequences; and, for the connections she built between the Berkeley CEE and Architecture Departments to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration.