FIU Earthquake Experts


Following a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck coastal Ecuador and the twin earthquakes in southern Japan, FIU researchers are available to offer their insight to the media and the public. This list will be updated as new information becomes available.

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

  • Madeline Baró, associate director: 305-310-9665,
  • Dianne Fernandez, broadcast media specialist: 305-608-4870,
  • Evelyn Perez, account manager, College of Arts, Sciences & Education: 305-348-4493,
  • Ileana Varela, assoc. director for marketing and public relations, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine: 305-348-4926,

Grenville Draper
Professor of geology, Department of Earth and Environment
Grenville Draper is a professor of geology in the Department of Earth and Environment. He has studied the geology tectonics of several regions in the world, including the behavior of faults and earthquake generation, for more than 30 years. His research is based in the Caribbean and was intimately involved in the study and mapping of the fault that caused the earthquake in Haiti. Professor Draper speaks Spanish.
O: 305-348-3087

C: 305-467-3041

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 speaks Spanish.
O: 305-348-3614
C: 786-210-0590

Richard Olson
Director, Extreme Events Institute
Professor of political science, Department of Politics and International Relations
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’s response domestically and abroad, as well as Japan and Ecuador’s own responses 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. Dr. Olson, an expert on disasters, can speak about what should be done in the aftermath of the earthquakes. Professor Olson speaks Spanish.

Ruben Almaguer
Director, Academy of International Disaster Preparedness
Assistant Vice President, Disaster Management and Emergency Operations
For more than 30 years, Almaguer served his community as part of the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department, overseeing their Urban Search and Rescue Unit. He has also served as the deputy director and interim director of the State of Florida Division of Emergency Management. In 2012, he was named Assistant Vice President of Disaster Management and Emergency Operations at FIU. The following year, Almaguer was appointed executive director of the FIU Academy of International Disaster Preparedness, an academy dedicated to delivering graduate and professional programs to current disaster practitioners who want to further their career; urban planners and elected officials who want to develop disaster management skills; and first-responders, military personnel, and health care and non-governmental organization professionals who want to take on leadership roles. Almaguer has been deployed in response to national disasters as part of a search and rescue team, including Hurricane Andrew, the Oklahoma City Bombing, the September 11th terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, among others. He has also been deployed by the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance to assist with earthquakes, hurricanes and floods in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, as well as the Embassy Bombing in Nairobi, Kenya. Almaguer earned a Master’s of Public Administration from FIU in 2003 and a Master of Arts in Homeland Security and Defense from Naval Post-Graduate School in 2006. Almaguer speaks Spanish.

Aileen M. Marty
Director, FIU Health Travel Medicine Program and Vaccine Clinic
Professor, Department of Medicine
Aileen M. Marty, M.D., F.A.C.P., is a professor of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Humanities, Health, and Society at the FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. Marty served in the U.S. Navy for 25 years specializing in tropical medicine, infectious disease pathology, disaster medicine, mass casualty, and in the science, medical response and policy involving weapons of mass destruction. Marty has served as a professor of emerging infections and pathology at the Uniformed Services University, the Johns Hopkins University, the National Defense University, and the University of Valencia, Spain. She has worked with and for the World Health Organization in Europe, the Americas, and Africa–most recently in the fight against the 2014 Ebola epidemic in Nigeria She also has worked with and for elements of DoD, DHS, DHHS (CDC, NIH), DOS, and USDA developing plans, programs, training, and policy for government agencies, the White House National Security administration, and other government agencies. Marty attended the Navy War College where she trained in strategic studies, diplomacy, joint military operations, and the art of war. The Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) recognized her as an expert on chemical, biological, radiation, and high-energy weapons and called on her to develop plans, training, and policy for government agencies including the White House and the National Security Administration. Marty is a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. She is also one of only 403 people listed in the international roster as a member of the United Nations Monitoring and Verification Team for Weapons of Mass Destruction. She has edited three medical books on infectious diseases, tropical medicine, biological weapons, and bioterrorism. Dr. Marty speaks Spanish.

Juan Pablo Sarmiento
Director, Disaster Risk Reduction Program 
Professor, Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work 
Juan Pablo Sarmiento, M.D., MPH, is a professor and researcher in the department of health policy and management at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work. He is also the Director of the Disaster Risk Reduction Program, funded by the U. S. Agency for International Development and housed in the FIU Extreme Events Institute, a part of the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs. He is a surgeon with both a master’s degree in medical education from the University of the Sabana (1998) and a master’s degree in project administration from the University for International Cooperation in Costa Rica (2004). He completed post-graduate studies in disaster management (Oxford, Great Britain-1989); high level public administration (Colombian Superior School of Public Administration – 1996) and a residence in nutrition (Tufts University, U.S.A. 1998).

Dr. Sarmiento’s professional and research experience spans 33 years and includes working in Colombia for the Civil Defense, Central Military Hospital, Ministry of Health, Colombian Red Cross, and Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Additionally, he worked as a consultant for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO); he was member of United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) teams, and, for ten years worked as the technical manager of the regional risk management program that the International Resources Group (IRG) implemented in Latin American and the Caribbean for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA). Dr. Sarmiento’s research has been published in health, health education, risk assessment, and disaster management focused publications in Latin America and the Caribbean. Dr. Sarmiento speaks Spanish.