FIU Experts on the Japan earthquake and aftermath

Florida International University has a number of professors who are experts on earthquakes and disasters, as well as professors who can address issues related to Japan as a whole. This is a list of experts willing to offer their insight to media and the public. This list is being updated continuously.

For assistance reaching any of these professors, please call the FIU Office of Media Relations at 305-348-2232.


Paul Kowert
Associate Professor and Graduate Director, Department of Political Science and International Relations
Paul Kowert is an expert on Japanese politics and foreign relations and can speak on a wide range of topics related to the country. Fluent in Japanese, Professor Kowert has lived in Japan on several occasions, most recently in Sendai, which was the epicenter of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake. He can discuss Japan’s response to the earthquake, as well as Japan’s record of recovering from epic disasters, including two nuclear bomb strikes and several devastating earthquakes. Professor Kowert can also address the economic impact this earthquake will have on the world’s third largest economy and implications for the international community.


Richard Olson
Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department
Richard Olson teaches about the political fallout from natural disasters such as the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971, which was precipitated when a massive cyclone hit the Southeast Asian country. Olson can comment on the Obama administration’ response domestically and abroad, as well Japan’s own response to the disaster. Olson, a former contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has done work in the aftermath of disasters such as Hurricane Mitch in Central America. Professor Olson speaks Spanish.


Grenville Draper
Earth Sciences Professor
Grenville Draper has studied the geology tectonics of several regions in the world for more than 30 years. He was intimately involved in the study and mapping of the fault that caused the earthquake in Haiti, for example. Professor Draper is Chair of the Standing Committee of the Caribbean Geological Conference series and is on the editorial boards of International Geology Review and Geologica Acta. Professor Draper speaks Spanish.

José F. Longoria
Professor of Geology
Jose Longoria’s research focuses on the science behind natural disasters including earthquakes, landslides, volcanoes, flooding, tsunami, hurricanes, tornados, and human-induced disasters. He has worked on the mitigation and vulnerability of human society to natural disasters in collaboration with national associations of civil engineers from several Latin American countries.  Longoria, who works with Spanish language television and radio stations, leads the weekly live radio segment “La Ciencia Detras de los Desastres Naturales”on La Poderosa Cadena Azul 1550-AM. His research resulted in the establishment of an integrated system of civil protection which has been implemented in several regions of Mexico and Central America. In 1992, he created a course on natural disasters at FIU. Professor Longoria is available for interviews in Spanish.
305-348-3614 (office)
786-210-0590 (cell)


Amir Mirmiran
Dean, College of Engineering and Computing

Amir Mirmiran is dean of FIU’s College of Engineering and Computing. A civil/structural engineer by training and former chairman of FIU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Mirmiran is currently involved in research with the National Science Foundation’s Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). In this research, he collaborates with colleagues from UC-Berkeley, UC-San Diego, Stanford, and University of Nevada-Reno on the next generation of bridges that would sustain large earthquake damages. He also has two U.S. patents on composite construction to improve earthquake resistance of columns.
305-348-6050 (office)
305-348-2522 (office)

Andres Tremante
Visiting Professor, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering
Tremante is a mechanical engineer whose expertise lies in renewable energy. He can discuss issues involving nuclear energy and power plants and the concerns Japanese officials are facing in the aftermath of the earthquake. Tremante is also an expert on search and rescue and can speak about the challenges ahead for Japan. Professor Tremante speaks Spanish.
305-348-0149 (office)

786-587-8588 (cell)

Atorod Azizinamini
Professor and Chair, Department and Civil and Environmental Engineering
Azizinamini’s research activities are diverse. In the early 1990s, he conducted a number of projects funded by the National Science Foundation to develop technologies for utilizing High Performance Concrete in buildings and bridges, with an emphasis on highly seismic areas. In 1995, he was selected through NSF to be a member of the U.S. delegation to work cooperatively with Japanese researchers to develop technologies for the next generation of high-rise buildings in seismic regions. He also has background in the area of nuclear containment.

Jerry G. Brown
Founding Professor, Global and Sociocultural Studies
Jerry G. Brown is on an expert on energy policy and can speak on the Japan nuclear disaster in particular, as well as on the risks of nuclear power in general. His recent book, Freedom from Mid-East Oil includes a chapter on “Nuclear Power: A Mistake in Search of a Mission,” which summarizes the current critique and risks of nuclear power. His earlier book, Profiles in Power: The Antinuclear Movement and the Dawn of the Solar Age described the economic, health and safety risks of nuclear power and analyzed both the Three Mile Island accident of 1979 and the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. From 1998-2003, he was a research associate with the Radiation and Public Health Project ,which measured the levels of radioactive Strontium-90 (Sr-90) in baby teeth to test the hypothesis that federally-allowed radiation releases from U.S. nuclear power plants were a major un-discussed factor in American’s cancer epidemic.  RPHP’s early research showed that women living close to U.S. nuclear power plants were at significantly higher risk of dying from breast cancer. Professor Brown speaks Spanish.
(305) 993-5140 (office)
(305) 321-5612 (cell)


Juan M. Acuña, MD
Associate Professor, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
Acuña has extensive experience in high risk Obstetrics and Gynecology, clinical genetics, and Clinical and Public Health/Epidemiology at the level of both teaching and practice. He has  served as the Center for Disease Control assignee in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology to the Louisiana Office of Public Health and was on faculty at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. In 1998, he worked with the CDC and the International Red Cross in the aftermath of Hurricane George to determine where disaster relief should be sent. He is sought nationally and internationally as a lecturer. Having a strong bilingual publication record,  Acuña is frequently requested to provide technical advice in setting up and evaluating health systems, health services research and health education systems. Acuña speaks Spanish.

Comments are closed.