Joyner Lecture Celebrates 20th Year

Nominations are now open for the next Joyner Lecturer. The deadline for submissions is 30 June 2024.

6 May 2024–The William B. Joyner Memorial Lecture delivered by Helen Crowley of Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation at the 2024 SSA Annual Meeting marked the 20th year of the award. Established in 2004 by SSA with cooperation from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), the award recognizes outstanding individuals working at the intersection of earthquake science and engineering.

Award-winning pioneers

The idea for the award was initiated by the late Tom Hanks, a research geophysicist at the Menlo Park office of the U.S. Geological Survey who passed away in March 2024. Hanks’ generosity and work on behalf of the Lectureship and its supporting fund provided essential stewardship as recognition of the award grew over the past two decades.

Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks

Hanks, the 2011 Joyner Lecturer, was a pioneer in the field of probabilistic seismic hazard analysis. He is probably best known for developing with Hiroo Kanamori the universally used earthquake moment magnitude scale. According to his colleagues who worked with him at Menlo Park, Hanks was known for the same kind of free-ranging curiosity, mentorship and commitment to working on seismic studies with immediate applications to engineering as the award’s namesake Bill Joyner.

Like Hanks, Joyner spent the majority of his career working for the USGS. His research focus was the prediction of earthquake ground motion for engineering design, developing industry-standard equations for predicting strong ground motion from earthquakes.

As a result, Joyner was an invaluable and active link between the earthquake science and engineering communities throughout his career. He served on numerous USGS teams that reviewed the seismic design of rapid transit systems, nuclear power plants, dams and even a seismic retrofit of the Panama Canal. His work informed multiple versions of the Uniform Building Code and the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) building code.

William B. Joyner
William B. Joyner

“Bill Joyner was a brilliant researcher and kind person who showed the important advancements that can come about when earthquake scientists and earthquake engineers work together,” said Ellen Rathje, the Janet S. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and the 2018 Joyner Lecturer.

Julian Bommer, the 2020 Joyner Lecturer, worked with Joyner on ground motion modeling at Menlo Park in the 1990s. “I have very fond memories of that time,” Bommer recalled. “Most days I would venture into Bill’s office at some point with questions and doubts, and while I recall that I often entered with mild trepidation, I always emerged enlightened.”

20 Years of Earthquake Engineering Leadership

Crowley, Rathje and Bommer join a distinguished list of 20 Lecturers who have been recognized for their research spanning the intersection of earthquake science and earthquake engineering. Their studies have contributed to building codes, seismic design guidelines, probabilistic seismic hazard analysis, and national seismic hazard maps, among other projects. Many of them have shared their expertise across the globe in countries rebuilding after devastating earthquakes.

Do you know a colleague who should be nominated to join these researchers? Nominate by 30 June 2024.