Professor Laura N. Lowes, Ph.D.
University of Washington
Professor Laura N. Lowes, Ph. D., University of Washington, has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Academic Engineer of the Year Award in recognition of her exceptional career as a structural engineering educator who integrated cutting edge research with engineering design and problem solving. Her teaching, student advising, publications, lectures, and participation in technical conferences have led to significant advances in the seismic design of structures.
She employs a unique knowledge base and skill set that includes expertise in development and application of numerical models. Specifically, she uses laboratory testing and numerical simulation to develop recommendations for advancing design codes and standards. She is best known for her research addressing the behavior, simulation, design, and performance assessment of the slender reinforced concrete walls that are used commonly to resist lateral loads in mid- and high-rise buildings. She and her collaborators developed a numerical modeling approach that enables simulation of loss of lateral load carrying capacity that could result in building collapse during a seismic event.
As a teacher, she provides students with the fundamental knowledge and technical skills needed to accomplish their research and enter professional practice upon graduation. Her classes include some traditional lectures as well as carefully crafted laboratory exercises and homework assignments that help students link fundamental theory to practice. Her students are required to model a structure or a component of choice and demonstrate that their results are valid. In addition to her traditional teaching activities, she has established multiple webinars to inform the natural hazard engineering community about the state of the art in earthquake engineering.