UH Geochemistry Professor Wins Lifetime Award

February 11, 2018, 9:30 AM HST
* Updated February 11, 9:24 AM
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DR. Donald Thomas

The Hawai‘i Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Center wishes congratulations to Dr. Donald Thomas, who won the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Western States Seismic Policy Council (WSSPC).

The WSSPC Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes leaders in earthquake risk reduction. Throughout their careers, the recipients demonstrated an extraordinary commitment, level of service, and application of earthquake risk reduction to public policy.

The WSSPC featured Don in its February 2018 newsletter:

Donald Thomas, Ph.D., is the Director of the University of Hawai‘i (UH) at Hilo’s Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV) as well as a long-standing member of the Hawai‘i Earthquake and Tsunami Advisory Committee (HETAC). For many years, Dr. Thomas has been doing the work necessary to keep people and the government fully educated and engaged – from scientific inquiry and research, to training and outreach, to undergraduate education – in hazards, mitigation, and monitoring of seismic activity. His dedication to the work has changed the way responders, builders, scientists, policy makers and the general public view, prepare for and respond to earthquakes.

A noteworthy example of his tireless efforts to promote hazard mitigation and awareness in Hawai‘i is making home earthquake retrofits accessible to homeowners. Don and his students took the detailed and complex designs for retrofitting post-and-pier foundations of homes damaged in the Kīholo Bay earthquake in 2006 and developed an online expert system that walked the homeowner step-by-step through the retrofit selection process. Based on identifying key elements of construction types, the expert system would determine the appropriate retrofit system, output construction drawings that homeowners or contractors could use to implement the retrofit, and provide a shopping list of hardware required to install the retrofit.


The WSSPC is the primary regional organization representing the western states, Pacific provinces, and territories supporting policies of the earthquake and tsunami programs that will reduce losses from earthquakes and their effects.


The Hawai‘i Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Center (HGGRC) seeks to provide historical and newly developed information relating to groundwater and geothermal resources in Hawai‘i. HGGRC strives to increase access to data regarding these resources, encourage research and innovation in water management and geothermal energy, and overall provide an informational platform for the public.

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