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Student Profile: Ana Isabel Sarkis

22 October 2020

Earthquake Engineering PhD Candidate, Ana Isabel Sarkis talks about how she cultivated a passion for studying Earthquake Engineering


Ana Isabel Sarkis talks about how she cultivated a passion for studying Earthquake Engineering. Ana Isabel Sarkis is a Ph.D. candidate in Earthquake Engineering at UC Civil and Natural Resources Engineering Department.  Her doctoral research is part of a national effort to improve the understanding of the likely behaviour of precast concrete floors during earthquakes. “I am particularly interested in expanding my knowledge and skills to help developing quake-resilient communities that can recover quickly after an important seismic event.”, said Ana.

Ana obtained her master’s degree in Earthquake Engineering and Engineering Seismology from universities located in highly seismic countries such as Turkey, Greece, and Italy. During her masters, she investigated the performance of concrete frames with footing uplift and rocking. 

She worked as a design engineer in Costa Rica, after completing her undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering. Coming from a country located in a high seismicity region, Ana cultivated an early passion for studying earthquakes and dynamic of structures, which encouraged her to seek postgraduate studies.

“Concrete buildings represent over 80% of existing commercial buildings in New Zealand’s urban areas, and most of these concrete buildings have precast concrete floors. Assessing the likely performance of precast floors in an earthquake is a challenge because there are many unanswered questions about the potential failure mechanisms when seismic actions are transferred across the building structure. The partial collapse of precast concrete flooring components during the Kaikōura earthquake, together with catastrophic damages to several buildings in Wellington sparked serious concerns about our understanding of the seismic performance of precast floor systems.”, said Ana.

To address these concerns, a research program called ReCast Floors was initiated in 2018. As part of this research, Ana is leading efforts to develop solid numerical models, validated against experimental data, representing the seismic behaviour of precast floors.


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