Nagarajaiah is recognized far and wide as the leading authority on nonlinear dynamic behavior of base-isolated structures and adaptive stiffness structures, in particular the analytical modeling and mechanics of response to earthquakes. He was the first to validate such advanced modeling using response of large structures during major earthquakes with his seminal structural monitoring and sparse system identification algorithms. He is the earliest person to invent and develop strain sensing and monitoring using nano-materials – both contact and non-contact laser-based sensing in structural engineering and mechanics. He holds patents on adaptive stiffness and negative stiffness systems for strength and stiffness modification of large structures.
The pioneering algorithms that he formulated for seismic analysis of base isolated structures have been employed in major structures such as San Francisco United States Court of Appeals ninth circuit, San Francisco International Airport, large offshore platforms by Exxon and Shell, and most recently at Apple Headquarters. These algorithms, originally developed by Nagarajaiah and subsequently enhanced by his co-workers and researchers at SUNY Buffalo, have also been implemented in the latest computer codes in NEHRP Guidelines (Prestandard and Commentary for the Seismic Rehabilitation of Buildings) in FEMA and ATC. These were outstanding contributions to the advancement of earthquake protective systems and have made Nagarajaiah one of the world’s leading experts in the field.
He remains one of the most cited researchers in the world, in 2016 making the Top 25 list. He has obtained over $20 million in research grants. In 2019 he was elected a fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Inventors, an eminent and distinguished body of innovators that has among its members Nobel Laureates and members of various national academies worldwide. His election to NAI indicates the impact of his patents and inventions.
Nagarajaiah served on ASCE’s Structural Engineering Institute Board of Governors from 2015 to 2019. His honors thus far include three from ASCE – the 2015 Leon S. Moisseiff Award, 2017 Raymond Reese Research Award, and 2020 SEI/Engineering Mechanics Institute Nathan M. Newmark Medal. He also received a National Science Foundation Early CAREER award in 1999.
Nagarajaiah has been the devoted mentor of 28 doctoral students, with many of his graduate students becoming professors at leading universities throughout the world and others rising to top management positions at professional companies.
He was the lead structural engineer with Tata Consulting Engineers, in India, soon after completing his own studies in that country. In the United States, he earned his doctorate and took research position with State University of New York, Buffalo, then an academic position with University of Missouri, and has been at Rice University since 1999.
He has been the editor of Structural Control and Health Monitoring since 2008, and has edited several other international journals, including ASCE’s Journal of Structural Engineering. He has also written two books and 168 journal articles.