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Research Areas

Multi-hazard reliability and risk assessment

Multi-Hazard Reliability and Risk Assessment
One of the focuses of Dr. Padgett’s research has been on multi-hazard reliability and risk assessment of structures such as bridges to support new design and life-cycle management of existing infrastructure. Such an endeavor requires an understanding of the relative contribution of various threats to the risk of damage or impending consequences, such as life-cycle costs.  Traditionally, limited attention has been given to understanding the hazard risk profile to bridge infrastructure, defined as the relative risks posed by multiple hazards and the synergies or tradeoffs in protecting for different hazards. ... Read More

Risk-Based Quantification of Infrastructure Sustainability Risk-Based Quantification of Structural and Infrastructure Sustainability
Our nation’s infrastructure faces multiple threats, including aging and deterioration, increased demand by a growing population, and natural hazards that may become more frequent with climate change. These threats result not only in physical damage, but cascading social, environmental, and economic impacts that impair sustainability. Dr. Padgett’s research group provides quantifiable schemes for evaluating a structural system in terms of its sustainability. In the proposed models, performance goals for selecting designs or upgrades are driven by sustainability metrics, such as energy usage, life-cycle cost, and downtime, while ensuring safety... Read More
Smart Materials for Protection of Bridges from Extreme Events Smart Materials for Protection from Extreme Events
Damage from past extreme events coupled with risk assessment of existing infrastructure has continued to highlight the need for improved methods to protect key components of our built infrastructure, such as buildings or bridges.  Padgett's research group along with academic and industry partners are evaluating the use of non-traditional building materials, known as shape memory alloys, to retrofit or enhance the design of structures particularly in seismic regions.  Shape memory alloys (SMAs) are a class of smart materials that have unique characteristics... Read More
Above Ground Storage Tanks Integrity Modeling of Above Ground Storage Tanks in Hurricane Prone Regions
Aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) commonly used to store hazardous materials at energy production and industrial sites, have suffered major damage in past severe storms leading to spills with significant consequences.  For example, over 7 million gallons of oil was spilled in Hurricanes Katrina and Rita due to the failure of aboveground storage tanks affecting the environment and neighboring communities, and leading to significant cleanup costs. Failure of these thin walled steel structures in past storm events has been attributed primarily to flotation, buckling, or localized damage from debris. Dr. Padgett's research offers the first probabilistic models of tank performance under the complexities of hurricane loads... Read More
Coastal Bridge Vulnerability Coastal Bridge Vulnerability
A functional bridge and roadway system is critical in the aftermath of coastal storms, such as hurricanes.  However, past hurricane events such as Hurricanes Ivan, Katrina, and Ike have underscored the potential vulnerability of coastal bridges to damage from storm surge and wave loading.  Padgett's group and collaborators have reported on extensive field reconiassance findings from such events highlighted the typical failure modes stemming from impact, wind and water inundation, scour, and surge induced loading. These events have signified the need for models to predict the reliability of coastal bridges, which provide a basis for risk mitigation efforts and emergency planning in regions susceptible to hurricane hazards... Read More
Nuclear Storage Casks Joint Threat Vulnerability of Nuclear Storage Casks
In the absence of a long-term nationwide storage facility, dry cask structures are used for the purpose of intermediate storage of spent nuclear fuel. Given the potentially significant consequences of damage to these structures, performance assessment of dry casks under extreme events, such as earthquakes, is critical to inform risk assessment and mitigation activities. Research in Padgett's group investigates the probabilistic performance of reinforced concrete dry cask storage systems with an emphasis on the behavior under joint aging and seismic threats. Sliding and rocking responses are of particular interest given the prospect of impacting adjacent casks or tip over of the dry cask... Read More
Seismic Fragility Modeling Seismic Fragility Modeling of Structures
A cornerstone of Dr. Padgett’s research is vulnerability, or fragility, modeling of structures under earthquake loading.  In addition to bridges which comprise a primary system of interest in her work, Padgett’s seismic vulnerability modeling research extends to other structural infrastructure including studies on low ductility reinforced concrete buildings, retrofitted steel buildings, concrete gravity dams, and dry cask structures. Her work has provided fragility models for a range of bridge types and design details, addressing infrastructure characteristic of the Central and Eastern United States, the state of California, and Eastern Canada. This work addresses gaps in transportation infrastructure risk assessment and supports post-earthquake response... Read More



Grants and Sponsor Acknowledgements


Proect Title Sponsor
Simulation of the Release and Fate of Petrochemical Materials from Aboveground Storage Tanks Following Severe Storms in Houston (PI: Griffin) Rice University Creative Ventures Fund
Collaborative Research: Numerical and Probabilistic Modeling of Aboveground Storage Tanks Subjected to Multi-Hazard Storm Events (Collaborator: Dawson) National Science Foundation
Infrastructure Sustainability in a Coastal Setting: Post-Doctoral Support Shell Center for Sustainability
Collaborative Research: Novel Fractional Order Ground Motion Intensity Measures for High Confidence Risk Assessment of Distributed Infrastructures (Collaborator: Shafieezadeh) National Science Foundation
PIRE-Coastal Flood Risk Reduction Program: Integrated, multi-scale approaches for understanding how to reduce vulnerability to damaging events (PI: Brody) National Science Foundation
NHERI Cyberinfrastructure 2015-2020 (PI: Rathje) National Science Foundation
Risk and Resilience along Houston's Ship Channel: Uncovering Links between Vital Social, Environmental and Physical Systems Shell Center for Sustainability
NIST Center of Excellence: Center for Risk-Based Community Resilience Planning (PI: van de Lindt) National Institute of Standards and Technology
SSPEED Center Funding for Gate Design and Coastal Resiliency (PI: Bedient) Houston Endowment (SSPEED Center)
CAREER: A Risk-Based Model to Achieve Sustainable Solutions for Bridge Infrastructure Subjected to Multiple Threats National Science Foundation (CMMI-1055301)


Project Title Sponsor
The Stress Nexus of Coastlines: Population Development, Infrastructure Security, and Morphological Dynamics of the Upper Texas Gulf Coast (PI: Nittrouer) Shell Center for Sustainability
Prioritizing and Selecting Bridge Management Actions for Heightened Truck Loads and Natural Hazards in Light of Funding Allocation Patterns National Science Foundation (CMMI-1234690)
Probabilistic Multi-Hazard Assessment of Dry Cask Structures (PI: Ayoub) Department of Energy (NEUP)
Hurricane Ike: Lessons Learned and Steps for the Future -- Phase II (PI: Bedient) Houston Endowment (SSPEED Center)
NEESR-CR: Innovative Seismic Retrofits for Resilient Reinforced Concrete Buildings (PI: DesRoches) National Science Foundation (CMMI-1041607)
MRI-R2: Acquisition of Data Analysis and Visualization Cyber-Infrastructure for Computational Science and Engineering (PI: Levander) National Science Foundation (OCI-0959097)
IDEA: Shape Memory Alloy Enhanced SMART Bridge Expansion Joints NCHRP/National Academy of Science (NCHRP-147)
Severe Storm Prediction Education and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center Proposal to the Houston Endowment (PI: Bedient) Houston Endowment (SSPEED Center)
Lifeline Sustainability: A Comprehensive Coastal Flood Warning and Evacuation System (PI: Bedient) Shell Center for Sustainability
ARRA/NSF: IT-Enabled Continuous Risk Assessment of Bridge Networks for Customized and Actionable Multi-Hazard Interventions National Science Foundation (CMMI-0928493)
Hurricane Ike: Lessons Learned and Steps for the Future (PI: Bedient) Houston Endowment (SSPEED Center)
Feasibility Studies for Improving Caltrans Fragility Relationships (PI: DesRoches) California Department of Transportation
Infrastructure Development for Advanced Nanocomposites (PI: Barrera) UTC/Air Force Research Lab
Large Scale Validation of Innovative SMA Recentering Devices for Multi-Span Bridges (PI: DesRoches) National Science Foundation (CMMI-0526889)