The metro Vancouver region faces major seismic risk from a megathrust earthquake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, located off the coast of Vancouver Island. My research focuses on understanding the amplification of earthquake shaking due to the sedimentary basin and its implications on community impacts for a future large magnitude Cascadia subduction zone earthquake.
The metro Vancouver region faces major seismic risk from a megathrust earthquake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, located off the coast of Vancouver Island. The seismic hazard and risk are elevated due to the presence of the Georgia sedimentary basin that amplifies ground motion shaking. This will have a disproportionate impact on the older tall buildings present in the West End of Vancouver, many of which houses vulnerable sections of the community. This research will focus on understanding the amplification of earthquake shaking due to the sedimentary basin and its implications on community impacts for a future large magnitude Cascadia subduction zone earthquake.
What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?
Being a public scholar comes with a responsibility of contributing tangibly to better the public life through research being carried out as part of my PhD work and even beyond that. This also provides a “big picture” perspective to me on conducting research on reducing earthquake risks in our communities, while keeping in mind that the work is intended to impact the public. While it is comfortable to conduct research within our core expertise, public scholarship would encourage us to take steps towards integrating various different stakeholders to address the real problems that the community is facing and strive towards finding holistic ways of approaching the problem.
In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?
With the changing nature of academic research with realization of the complexities of the problem that the current society faces, inter and trans disciplinary work has gained momentum. Many a times PhD students are forced to maintain the status quo as the outcomes of the work is assessed from a traditional lens. Public Scholar Initiative provides the platform to think and explore the research problem at hand from a much wider perspective and that helps the students to fathom the potential of their research towards real-world impact. PSI incentives in re-orienting and re-calibrating the research work for public benefit, which is the goal of research anyways, and that provides a great opportunity for the students to re-imagine their work by creating deliverables beyond the traditionally required ones.
How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?
I am interested in a career where I can contribute towards policy making for better preparing our communities for future natural hazards and enhancing disaster resilience of such communities. My PhD work has provided me opportunities to work collaboratively and engage in conversations with professionals and academics in different career paths working towards this common goal. I believe my experience through different projects and skill sets I have developed will enable me to find a career where I can contribute towards policy making in creating disaster resilient communities.
How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?
My research focusses on understanding the earthquake hazard in the Metro Vancouver region due to the presence of the Georgia sedimentary basin and its implications on tall building infrastructure, especially the older constructions. One major goal is to understand the post-earthquake housing recovery patterns in the region and find engineering interventions to enhance seismic resilience of the community. Most of these buildings are residential and provides housing to a large number of people of the region, many of which are socially vulnerable. Therefore, it is very important to understand the risk awareness and perception of the residents in creating solutions and taking policy decisions to reducing seismic risk and enhancing resilience. My research would engage with the community to gather data on current state of risk perception within the community by collaborating with partners, which will be helpful in finding out different strategies for earthquake risk reduction. My research also envisages collaborating with researchers from communities which have similar socio-economic background and experience of recovering from major earthquakes in the past to integrate their learnings in my research.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
During the final year of my undergrad I was involved in a research project aimed at assessing the seismic risk of my hometown of Guwahati located in the Himalayan region at the eastern frontier of India. This experience exposed me to a wide variety of topics in earthquake engineering, most of which I had virtually no idea about, and the kind of impact that this kind of research can have on the community. That’s when I decided to spend more time in understanding some of these topics more rigorously and conduct active research in the area of earthquake engineering. Although this led me to do a Masters, I could not fulfill my curiosity and interest in gaining more depth in the area of earthquake risk assessment even after that. That was when I decided to go for a doctoral program and decided on joining the graduate program at UBC.
Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?
While weighing different options for my doctoral studies, I was interested in joining a program which has a thriving disaster research community as well as a research group which is inter-disciplinary in nature. I knew that UBC fulfills the first criteria, the second was assured after I had a really engaging conversation with my current advisor who was also starting out at the position at that time. I also have heard great things about Vancouver before, although never visited it myself. I thought that this would be a great opportunity for me to conduct my research and enjoy my life in the pacific northwest.
Being a public scholar comes with a responsibility of contributing tangibly to better the public life through research being carried out as part of my PhD work and even beyond that. Public scholarship would encourage us to take steps towards integrating various different stakeholders to address the real problems that the community is facing and strive towards finding holistic ways of approaching the problem.