George W. Housner


George W. Housner (December 9, 1910 in Saginaw, Michigan – November 10, 2008 in Pasadena, California) was a professor of earthquake engineering at the California Institute of Technology and National Medal of Science laureate.

George W. Housner
Born(1910-12-09)December 9, 1910
DiedNovember 10, 2008(2008-11-10) (aged 97)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan BSc 1933[2]
Caltech MSc 1934
Caltech PhD 1941
Known forSeismological Society of America president (1977)[3]
Scientific career
FieldsCivil engineering
InstitutionsCalifornia Institute of Technology


Housner received his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Michigan where he was influenced by Stephen Timoshenko.[2] He earned his masters' (1934) and doctoral (1941) degrees from the California Institute of Technology where he had been a professor of earthquake engineering from 1945 to 1981, and Professor Emeritus thereafter.

Annually, in recognition of those who made extraordinary contributions to the earthquake safety research, practices and policies, EERI awards The George W. Housner Medal of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.[4] On his death, Housner left a substantial gift to EERI "to advance the objectives of EERI". This gift has been used to train future earthquake engineering policy advocates and thought leaders through the EERI Housner Fellows Program, which has been active since 2011.[5]

Housner died of natural causes November 10, 2008 in Pasadena, California at the age of 97.[6]

Partial list of achievementsEdit

  • Chairman of the earthquake engineering research committee of the National Academy of Sciences[7]
  • Formed the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute[8]
  • UNESCO representative to International Institute of Seismology and Earthquake Engineering in Tokyo
  • AEC advisory panel on safety against ground shock
  • AID consultant at University of Roorkee, India
  • Chairman of Geologic Hazards Advisory Committee for California State Resources Agency
  • Chairman of Panel on Seismic Design and Testing of Nuclear Facilities for International Atomic Energy Agency[9]
  • On Los Angeles County Earthquake Commission
  • Member of Earthquake Engineering and Hazards Reduction Delegation to People's Republic of China
  • Consultant to Japanese Atomic Energy Commission and Italian Nuclear Energy Commission and numerous nuclear energy projects in the U.S.
  • Elected to National Academy of Sciences 1972
  • Named Braun Professor of Engineering at Caltech 1974
  • Chairman of NRC's Earthquake Society and International Association
  • Delivered second Mallet-Milne memorial lecture for Society for Earthquake and Civil Engineering Dynamics in London, 1989[10]


  1. ^ Housner, Perbix & Scott 1997, p. 1
  2. ^ a b Housner, Perbix & Scott 1997, p. 4
  3. ^ B. F. Howell; "History of the Seismological Society of America". Seismological Research Letters ; 73 (1): 70–83. doi:10.1785/gssrl.73.1.70
  4. ^ "Honors and Awards: The George W. Housner Medal". Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. 18 August 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-01-09.
  5. ^ "Housner Fellows Program". Retrieved 2016-02-18.
  6. ^ Johnson Jr., John (15 November 2008). "George W. Housner dies at 97; Caltech professor emeritus was called the father of earthquake engineering". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ National Academy of Sciences (U.S.) (1965). Annual Report - National Academy of Sciences. National Academies. p. 61.
  8. ^ Tubbesing, Susan & Anagnos, Thalia. (2008). The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, a Short History of the U.S. National Earthquake Engineering Society.
  9. ^ International Atomic Energy Agency, Aseismic Design and Testing of Nuclear Facilities, Technical Reports Series No. 88, IAEA, Vienna. p. 46
  10. ^ Campbell, Andy (May 2016). "The fifteenth Mallet–Milne lecture". Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering. 14 (5): 1333–1336. doi:10.1007/s10518-016-9869-8.

Further readingEdit

  • CUREE (1995), The CUREE Symposium in Honor of George Housner (PDF), Pasadena, California: Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering, archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-02-05
  • Housner, G. W.; Perbix, T. W.; Scott, S. (1997), George W. Housner (PDF), ISBN 0-943 198-58-5
  • Housner, G. W. (2002), "Historical view of earthquake engineering", International Handbook of Earthquake and Engineering Seismology, International Geophysics, vol. 81, pp. 13–18, doi:10.1016/S0074-6142(02)80205-4, ISBN 9780124406520
  • Jennings, P. C. (2009), "George W. Housner (1910–2008)", Seismological Research Letters, 80 (2): 192–195, doi:10.1785/gssrl.80.2.192
  • Reitherman, R. (2012). Earthquakes and Engineers: An International History. American Society of Civil Engineers. ISBN 978-0-7844-1071-4.