Therese P. McAllister, Ph.D., P.E., F.SEI, Dist.M.ASCE, the community resilience group leader and program manager for a National Institute of Standards and Technology laboratory, has been honored with inclusion by ASCE in its 2022 class of distinguished members for her exceptional federal and public service managing investigation of the World Trade Center collapse; contributions to structural fire research leading to major improvements in fire-resistant design; leadership in many technical standards within ASCE; and inspiring technical leadership of the NIST Community Resilience Program.
McAllister works in the Materials and Structural Systems Research Division of the Engineering Laboratory at NIST. She is also the technical point of contact for the NIST-funded Center of Excellence, Center for Risk-Based Community Resilience Planning led by Colorado State University.
She is universally recognized and respected in the structural engineering community for her integrity and professionalism, technical expertise, and insights on the behavior and performance of structural systems. She has in fact has played the central role in three research projects at NIST with high national visibility and impact: the WTC collapse investigation; a study of the impact of Superstorm Sandy on critical infrastructure in New York and New Jersey; and the Community Resilience Program.
McAllister’s contributions in the structural engineering field are focused on building collapse investigation, structural fire interaction and failure analysis, risk consistency for wind and other design hazards, and community resilience (a new design concept that addresses the performance of buildings and infrastructure as well as their role in the community for meeting social needs, both before and after disaster events). These offerings and influences, which span the past two decades, often resulted in impactful outcomes and changes to codes, standards, and practices.
The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) awarded her its highest civilian honor, the Gold Medal, in 2005. The DOC also awarded her a Special Act Award for distinguished contributions to the NIST World Trade Center Investigation and its Silver Medal in 2016 for leadership in developing community resilience planning guidance for buildings and infrastructure systems. In 2018 she received ASCE’s Ernest E. Howard Award for co-authorship of a publication on risk-based decision making for sustainable and resilient infrastructure systems, published in the Journal of Structural Engineering. In 2021, she was awarded the Walter P. Moore, Jr. Award in recognition of demonstrated technical expertise in and dedication to the development of structural codes and standards.
McAllister has specialized expertise in nonlinear finite element modeling of structural systems, temperature-dependent material models, and thermally induced failure modes. She also conducted detailed studies of Hurricane Katrina, and before joining NIST she conducted forensics studies of structural failures.
She serves on standards and technical committees at ASCE and has spent time on the International Code Council Structural Committee. McAllister is a registered professional engineer in Maryland.
ASCE will honor the 2022 class of distinguished members during the ASCE 2022 Convention, Oct. 24, in Anaheim, California.