2011 PEER Summer Internship Details

The PEER Summer Internship program in 2011 was able to provide unique opportunities for eleven outstanding undergraduate students to participate in state-of-the-art research. Internship participants were paired with a faculty advisor and a graduate student mentor. During the program, students learned how to conduct independent research and how to participate effectively as a member of a research team.

Funding for the 2011 internship program came from various programs including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and PEER.

2011 PEER undergrads and mentors

The participating students were:

  • – Gulzat Atymtayeva, University of Evansville
  • – David Deutsch, University of Southern California
  • – Amanjot Dhaliwal, University of California, San Diego
  • – Christopher Kissick, California State University, Chico
  • – Christopher Krage, University of California, Davis
  • – Zhi Liu, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
  • – Andrew Makdisi, University of California, Davis
  • – Jason Naanos, California State University, Northridge
  • – John  Pham, University of California: San Diego
  • – Douglas Spitzer, University Of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • – Sarah Welsh-Huggins, Lafayette College

PEER extends its thanks to the Faculty, Graduate Student and Earthquake Professional Mentors:

  • – Sarah Karlinsky, SPUR
  • – Laura Dwelley-Samant, SPUR
  • – Mary Comerio, UC Berkeley
  • – Peter May, University of Washington
  • – Ashley Jochim, University of Washington
  • – Charles Roeder, University of Washington
  • – Dawn Lehman, University of Washington
  • – Arni Kristinn Gunnarsson, University of Washington
  • – Kenneth O'Neill, University of Washington
  • – Jay Lund, UC Davis
  • – Ross Boulanger, UC Davis
  • – Jason DeJong, UC Davis
  • – Jack Montgomery, UC Davis
  • – Brian Martinez, UC Davis
  • – Brina Mortensen, UC Davis
  • – Matt Schoettler, UC San Diego / UC Berkeley
  • – Jose Restrepo, UC San Diego


Recent earthquakes in the US and around the world have repeatedly shown that earthquake resilience is essential to building and sustaining urban communities. Earthquake resilience will play an increasingly important role in the professions associated with earthquake hazard mitigation. To educate the next-generation of these professionals, the 2011 PEER Summer Internship program was focused on the theme of Engineering Earthquake Resilient Communities.

Interns were placed at the three partnering universities: University of California Davis, University of Washington, and University of California Berkeley in collaboration with both San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) and University of California, San Diego. The students worked with a faculty and graduate student mentor to complete projects related to the seismic resiliency of infrastructure, ports, levees, and urban buildings.

During their summer research experience, interns worked 40 hours per week for 10 weeks from June 13, 2011 – August 19, 2011.


The 10-week summer program for the undergraduate interns began with an Orientation Program at the University of California Berkeley. This orientation program included the following items:

  • - Earthquake Resiliency Workshop: The definition and concept of earthquake resiliency were explored and discussed through activities and presentations by various mentors. The workshop highlighted the multi-disciplinary nature of the topic.
  • - Communication skills: This module provided the students with tips on how to communicate their research project and results coherently. It included instruction on oral and poster presentations, and writing a technical paper.
  • - Library research tools: This session was held at the National Information Service for Earthquake Engineering (NISEE) Library. The students explored how to complete a thorough literature review and how to effectively find documents necessary to write a research results paper.
  • - Graduate school: The graduate student advisors in Civil Engineering at UC Berkeley discussed how to successfully apply to and pay for graduate school. A graduate student round table discussion followed, and allowed the interns to ask questions of current graduate students.
  • - Research Ethics: Tools and case studies were used to introduce and discuss ethical issues related to engineering practice and engineering research.

The interns and mentors at all research sites participated in web-based weekly meetings. During the first weekly meetings the interns presented an overview of their research project using PowerPoint so that the entire cohort could learn about the various intern research projects being completed. At the following meetings the interns were required to present updates on the status of their research project as well as discuss some research challenges. The final group meetings at the end of the summer gave the interns the opportunity to present a final, complete research presentation that included their project overview, results, and how their project contributed to the research theme of community earthquake resiliency.

The final experience for the interns was their participation in the PEER Annual Meeting, which was held on September 30th and October 1st. The students will participated by attending the entire conference to learn more about the numerous multi-disciplinary PEER research projects, listening to conference discussions about the future directions of earthquake engineering research, and presenting their research via a poster session at the conference. By the end of 2011, the interns will have their research papers published into a PEER report that is available on the PEER website.

Find more information about the PEER Internship Program.

Funding for the 2011 PEER Internship Program is provided National Science Foundation under Grant No. EEC-1063138. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).