Alysson Mondoro Conducts NSF-Funded Research in Japan

A Ph.D. candidate in Structural Engineering researched the vulnerability of coastal bridges and optimal risk management strategies with top engineers at Waseda University in Tokyo.

Alysson Mondoro Japan Research NSF

Alysson Mondoro, a Ph.D. candidate in Structural Engineering, was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute (EAPSI) fellowship to pursue international research with Dr. Mitsuyoshi Akiyama at Waseda University in Japan. As the principle investigator for the grant, Alysson continued to develop her work on the vulnerability of civil infrastructure to extreme natural hazards.

Bridge failures can occur if wave and surge loads on a bridge exceed the capacity of the bridge to withstand the loads. These may occur during hurricanes (also known as typhoons in the Northwest Pacific) or tsunamis and can cause the bridge to fail. As a member of Dr. Dan M. Frangopol's research team at Lehigh, Alysson focuses not only on the failure of the bridge, but also on the impact that structural failure has on the community it serves. There are social consequences that include the loss of life if a bridge fails while people are on it. There can be an environmental impact if debris from the bridge enters the stream, and there are economic costs of rebuilding. During her time in Japan, Alysson expanded on her Ph.D. work to investigate the impact of climate change on the vulnerability of bridges.

"The NSF EAPSI fellowship allowed me the opportunity to explore different areas of my Ph.D. work and perform research on an international stage," Alysson says. "The skills that I learned and the professional relationships I made will help me become an international researcher."

During her time as an EAPSI fellow, Alysson was able to meet and learn from many of the graduate and undergraduate students in Dr. Akiyama's lab. These relationships helped her explore the methods that Japanese engineers have developed in her research fields.

Additionally, she was able to gain a first-hand perspective on the social impacts of typhoons and tsunami damage to bridges. She visited Ishinomaki, a town devastated by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, to see how the region was recovering. The bridges in the area have been restored to their full functionality after having been washed away during the event. The failure of the bridges cost many lives because people were crossing the bridge to get to higher ground when the bridge failed.

Alysson Mondoro, IshinomakiRecovery in Ishinomaki, August 2016

Alysson also visited the Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni. The bridge had been reconstructed after failing during a typhoon. The bridge was going to be put forth as a potential UNESCO World Heritage site, but because it failed during the storm, it could not be. The social losses from this failure included the loss of potential tourism revenue. The research work that Alysson performs as a member of Dr. Frangopol's research team investigates the importance of considering these consequences when developing risk management strategies for civil infrastructure.

Alysson Mondoro, Kintai BridgeKintai Bridge, August 2016

Alysson's recent NSF EAPSI grant continues to build the relationship between the Lehigh Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and Japan. Dr. Thomas Matarazzo '15 Ph.D., a recent Lehigh graduate and who worked at the Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems (ATLSS) Engineering Research Center, also participated in the NSF EAPSI program during the summer of 2014. He studied earthquake engineering with Dr. Masayoshi Nakashima '81 Ph.D. at Kyoto University. Both Dr. Akiyama and Dr. Nakashima spent time at Lehigh performing research.

More information on the EAPSI grant can be found here. The grant enables students to engage in graduate research across various disciplines in Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand.

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