Mary Comerio

Mary Comerio is an internationally recognized expert on disaster recovery. She joined the faculty in the Department of Architecture at UC Berkeley in 1978 and served as chair of the department from 2006-2009.

As an architect, she has designed numerous public and private facilities including market rate and affordable housing. Her research focuses on the costs and benefits of seismic rehabilitation (particularly housing), post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, and loss modeling. She is the author of Disaster Hits Home: New Policy for Urban Housing Recovery (U. C. Press, 1998), and “Can Buildings Be Made Earthquake Safe” (Science Vol. 312, No. 5771, April 14, 2006).

Comerio led the FEMA-sponsored Disaster Resistant University Program. Her research together with the UC Berkeley campus seismic rehabilitation program was recognized by Engineering News Record as one of the ten best seismic rehabilitation projects in the United States in 2006. She also led the Building Systems Research in the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, during the ten years when PEER was one of three NSF-funded national earthquake centers.

Comerio is currently working on an NSF Grand Challenge project focused on the mitigation of collapse risk in nonductile concrete buildings. She is spending a sabbatical year (2009-10) as a Visiting Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California and consultant to the United Nations Environment Program on post-disaster recovery efforts in China and Haiti.