The Charles Martin Duke Lifeline Earthquake Engineering Award was established by the Technical Council on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering, now the Infrastructure Resilience Division (IRD), to honor Charles Martin Duke for his pioneering contributions in lifeline earthquake engineering. The funds for the award were obtained through the solicitation of gifts from the many students, colleagues, admirers and friends of Charles Martin Duke. It was instituted by the Board of Direction in April 1990. Dr. Rachel Davidson, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the University of Delaware’s College of Engineering, is the 2019 recipient of the award.
Davidson is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a core faculty member in the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware. After completing her B.S.E. from Princeton University and M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University, she spent two years at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, then six years at Cornell University, both as an Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering. Following a year as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Columbia University, she joined the faculty at the University of Delaware and the Disaster Research Center in 2007. She was a Visiting Professor and Erskine Fellow at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand for the 2013-14 academic year.
Davidson conducts research on natural disaster risk modeling and civil infrastructure systems. Her work involves developing new engineering models to better characterize the impact of future natural disasters, and use that understanding to support decisions to help reduce future losses. It focuses particularly on lifelines (e.g., electric power, water supply) and risk from a regional perspective; on earthquakes and hurricanes. Problems in this field typically involve a great deal of uncertainty, a long time horizon, multiple and competing objectives, and sometimes numerous and conflicting constituencies. They are often spatial and dynamic, and the technical aspects must be understood in the social, economic, political, and cultural context in which they exist.
She is a Fellow and Past-President of the Society for Risk Analysis, and past-Chair of the Executive Committee of the ASCE Technical Council on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering (TCLEE). Davidson is a 2016 Fellow of the Executive Leadership in Academic Technology and Engineering (ELATE at Drexel ) program. She has been a mentor for the NSF-funded Career Enhancement of Academic Women in Earthquake Engineering (ENHANCE) program and the NSF-funded “Enabling the Next Generation of Hazards and Disaster Researchers” program.