George Deodatis, Ph.D., F.EMI, Dist.M.ASCE, who currently holds the Santiago and Robertina Calatrava Family Endowed Chair in the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at Columbia University, has been honored with inclusion by ASCE in its 2023 class of distinguished members for contributions in uncertainty quantification and probabilistic methods in the above areas, with emphasis on developing analytical and simulation methods for problems related to structural safety and reliability, and infrastructure resilience and sustainability.
Deodatis is a leading authority in simulation of stochastic processes, fields, and waves, and modeling random excitations on structures and uncertain structural/material properties. Along these lines, several of his contributions have become standard approaches to solve such problems. Prime examples are his innovative methodologies to model and simulate ergodic stochastic vector processes, nonstationary processes with amplitude and frequency modulation, non-Gaussian processes, and stochastic waves.
He has performed pioneering research in soil mechanics and geomechanics to study the effect of the random spatial variation of soil properties on problems such as soil liquefaction and bearing capacity of soils. Deodatis has also contributed to the development of a risk-based methodology – sponsored by NCHRP – to assess the remaining strength and overall safety of suspension bridge main cables using results of in situ visual inspections and laboratory tests of extracted wires.
Deodatis and three other professors, invited from Columbia and Cornell universities by the governor of New York, formulated an alternative solution to the originally proposed multiyear closing of the L-line subway tunnels under the East River without the need to close down the tunnels. This novel approach allowed the project to be successfully completed ahead of schedule and without service interruption. Deodatis also recently developed a general methodological framework to determine optimal adaptation strategies to protect coastal areas and cities from the combined effects of sea-level rise and storm-induced flooding.
Deodatis earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in civil engineering and engineering mechanics from Columbia, before starting his academic career at Princeton University. To date, he has graduated 27 Ph.D. students, two now being professors at Johns Hopkins University, one at Lehigh, one at Hofstra, and another at the Technical University of Munich. Deodatis is also a faculty member in Columbia’s Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering and an associate member of its Earth Institute.
He has received the NSF Young Investigator Award, the International Association for Structural Safety and Reliability Junior Research Prize, and ASCE’s Walter Huber Research Prize, among other honors. From 2009 to 2013, he served as president of the International Association for Structural Safety and Reliability. He also was Department chair at Columbia from 2013 to 2019. In 2017, he was elected president of the ASCE Engineering Mechanics Institute. Deodatis has served as the chair of three national and international conferences. Both Princeton and Columbia have presented him with their highest teaching honors, their respective Presidential Teaching Awards.