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Joseph Wartman

Joe Wartman directs the Natural Hazards Reconnaissance (RAPID) Facility headquartered at the University of Washington (UW), where he is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He specializes in disaster risk reduction with a specific interest in geologic hazards and their impacts on communities. Over the past two decades, he has investigated and analyzed major natural hazard events worldwide, including earthquakes, hurricanes, landslides, and public health emergencies. His current work focuses on developing low-cost, high-resolution techniques to map geologic hazards and their associated risks. These techniques include the Rockfall Activity Index (RAI) system and the Multimodal Landslide Hazard and Risk mapping platform. A strong advocate for global scientific cooperation, he collaborates with international partners on projects set in New Zealand, Lebanon, Indonesia, Japan, Spain, and Latin America.


Dr. Wartman’s research appears in such scientific journals as Geomorphology, Engineering Geology, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, Journal of Geophysical Research, GeoHealth, Science Advances, International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences Engineering Geology, and the Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, where he previously served as Editor. Wartman and his collaborators have received awards for this research, including most recently, the Edward Burwell prize from the Geological Society of America and the GeoRisk Best Paper of the Year award for the investigation and analysis of the Oso, Washington landslide; the Commendation Award from the New Zealand Society of Earthquake Engineering for the landslide risk assessment of the Port Hills following the Christchurch earthquake sequence; the Prakash Research Award for his work on coseismic landslides; and selection for the Frontiers of Engineering program for emerging leaders by the U.S. National Academy of Engineers. He has presented many named, keynote, and invited lectures worldwide.


In addition to his scientific publications, Dr. Wartman’s non-technical writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Seattle Times, The Conversation, and EOS, among other venues. He and graduate student William Pollock won the Association Media and Publishing EXCEL Silver award for their feature article “No Place to Flee,” which reports on the burdens natural hazards place on refugee communities worldwide. He is past Chair of the committee for the American Geophysical Union’s Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism.


At UW, Dr. Wartman teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on geotechnical engineering, landslides, risk assessment, and engineering geology. He also instructs short-courses and training workshops on field reconnaissance and disaster data collection and analysis for the RAPID Facility. Wartman recently received the UW College of Engineering Faculty Appreciation for Career Education & Training (FACET) Award for his teaching and student mentoring.


Before joining UW in 2010, Dr. Wartman spent nearly ten years at Drexel University, where he was an Assistant and Associate Professor, and founding Co-Director of Engineering Cites, a research initiative on the urban environment. In 2007 and 2008, he was a Visiting Scholar at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) in Barcelona, Spain. Prior to his academic career, Wartman worked as a licensed professional engineer in Pennsylvania and California for five years. Wartman currently maintains a limited professional practice, serving as an advisor to government officials at the federal, state, and local levels, non-governmental and non-profit organizations, and public authorities.  As an undergraduate student at Villanova University, he studied engineering, studio art, and the humanities. Wartman later earned M.S., M.Eng., and Ph.D. degrees in civil engineering (with a minor in geology) from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a native of the Philadelphia region.

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    Professional Interests
• Geological Hazards and Risk Assessment
• Disaster Risk Reduction
• Engineering Geology
• Geotechnical Engineering
• Remote Sensing



University of California, Berkeley

   Ph.D., M.Eng, and M.S.

Villanova University


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