Reginald DesRoches is the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Engineering at the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University. In this position, he provides leadership to a top ranked engineering school with 9 departments, over 125 faculty, and 2000 students. Prior to that, he served as the Karen and John Huff School Chair and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His primary research interests are in design of resilient infrastructure systems under extreme loads and the application of smart and auto-adaptive materials. His research is highly interdisciplinary and spans micro- to macro-scale. He has published approximately 300 articles and delivered more than 100 presentations in over 30 different countries.
A fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the society’s Structural Engineering Institute, Dr. DesRoches served as the key technical leader in the United States’ response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, taking a team of 28 engineers, architects, city planners, and social scientists to study the impact of the earthquake. He also has participated in numerous congressional briefings to underscore the critical role that university research must play in addressing the country’s failing infrastructure and enhancing the nation’s resilience to natural hazards. Dr. DesRoches has served as thesis advisor to 30 doctoral candidates (including current students), 12 of which serve in faculty positions at top programs, including Rice University, University of Michigan, University of Illinois, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Ohio State University, Clemson University, University of Delaware, Kyoto University, Andong University (Korea), and Hongik University (Korea). Dr. DesRoches has also advised 17 master’s thesis students.
Dr. DesRoches serves on the National Construction Safety Team Advisory Committte (NCST), National Academies Resilient America Roundtable (RAR) and the Board on Army Science and Technology (BAST) as well as on the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Advisory Committee, the Global Earthquake Modeling Scientific Board, and the advisory board for the Natural Disasters, Coastal Infrastructure and Emergency Management Research Center. He has chaired the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Seismic Effects Committee as well as the executive committee of the Technical Council on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering.
In recent years, Dr. DesRoches has testified before U.S. House and Senate subcommittees on earthquake resilience and the state of the science, and he has participated in Washington D.C. roundtables for media and congressional staffers on topics ranging from disaster preparedness to challenges for African-American men in STEM fields. National media outlets frequently contact him for expert analysis following earthquake events, including CNN, CNN International, LiveScience, National Geographic, and Asia Times online.
Dr. DesRoches received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2002 — the highest honor bestowed upon scientists and engineers in the early stages of their careers. Most recently, he was a recipient of the Distinguished Arnold Kerr Lecturer Award in 2019, the John A. Blume Distinguished Lecturer in 2018, as well as the 2018 Earthquake Engineering Research Institute Distinguished Lecturer Award – one the highest honors in the earthquake engineering field. He is a recipient of the 2015 ASCE Charles Martin Duke Lifeline Earthquake Engineering Award, the Georgia Tech Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Advisor Award (2010), the 2007 ASCE Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize, and the Georgia Tech ANAK Award (2008). The ANAK award is the highest honor the undergraduate student body can bestow on a Georgia Tech faculty member.
In his tenure as Karen and John Huff School Chair, Dr. DesRoches has guided the development of a new minor in global engineering leadership open to all Georgia Tech engineering undergraduates, doubled the number of named chairs/professors, led a strategic interdisciplinary research initiative, developed a Corporate Affiliates Program, and led a comprehensive strategic planning process. He also oversaw a $13.5 million renovation of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s main facility, the Jesse W. Mason Building. In 2014, he became Georgia Tech’s Faculty Athletics Representative, serving as the liaison between the Institute and the Athletics Association. As Faculty Athletics Representative, he works closely with the Athletic Director and university leadership — including the president, provost, and senior vice provost for academic affairs — to formulate policies affecting intercollegiate athletics on campus. His responsibilities also include representing the Institute to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the National Collegiate Athletic Associate (NCAA). He was appointed to the ACC leadership team as vice president of the conference for 2016-2017.
DesRoches was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and grew up in Queens, New York. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Master of Science in Civil Engineering, and Ph.D. in Structural Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was recently elected to the civil engineering department’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni.