Mary Comerio, a professor of architecture at UC Berkeley, is an internationally recognized authority on post-disaster reconstruction issues. She has spent much of the past 20 years on reconnaissance missions to the scenes of such tragedies as Hurricane Andrew and the Loma Prieta, Kobe and Mexico City earthquakes.
In her 1998 book Disaster Hits Home: New Policy for Urban Housing Recovery, she warned that unless new policies are adopted, natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes will continue to leave economic and housing ruin in their wake.
Comerio joined the Berkeley faculty in 1978 and served as chair of the Department of Architecture from 2006-09. She was the principal investigator on the pilot study for the Disaster Resistant University Initiative, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and UC Berkeley in 1998. She also conducted a 2004 study of the impacts of contents losses in science laboratories, with colleagues at the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center.
Comerio has worked on downtime modeling for the PEER performance-based earthquake-engineering methodology. Comerio is currently completing work on an NSF Grand Challenge project focused on the mitigation of collapse risk in nonductile concrete buildings.
She recently led the PEER/EERI reconnaissance teams to earthquakes in New Zealand and conducted a review of the housing recovery in Chile for the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and the United Nations Development Program.