Science + Technology

$9 million gift from alumnus B. John Garrick launches Institute for the Risk Sciences at UCLA Engineering

Courtesy of Garrick family
B. John Garrick

UCLA Engineering alumnus B. John Garrick and his wife, Amelia Garrick, have committed $9 million to launch the B. John Garrick Institute for the Risk Sciences at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.

The Garrick Institute will provide new knowledge and technology to assess and manage risks in order to save lives, protect the environment and protect property from large-scale threats. The institute will improve preparation and response to threats including earthquakes, volcano eruptions, tsunamis, shifts caused by climate change, and the consequences associated with major accidents at industrial plants. It also will focus on resilience and reliability engineering, fields dedicated to preventing failures of complex systems and managing major disruptions.

“The complexity of risks to society and the environment has increased dramatically in the 20th and 21st centuries,” said Garrick, who received his master’s degree (1962) and doctorate (1968) in engineering from UCLA. “We must meet the challenge of managing these threats with new thinking, methods, tools and applications.

“UCLA Engineering’s interdisciplinary approach to engineering and applied science, and its world-class faculty and commitment to public service make it the perfect home for the institute. I am thrilled to launch this exciting new enterprise to advance the risk sciences.”

Institute initiatives will include: 

  • Collaborating on research projects with federal agencies, industry partners, and researchers at UCLA and other U.S. and international universities.
  • Offering new courses as part of graduate degree and certificate programs.
  • Providing training for working professionals.
  • Publishing a journal on fundamental research in risk management.
  • Creating a world-class repository of risk sciences information.

“John Garrick has long been one of UCLA Engineering’s great friends and supporters,” said Vijay K. Dhir, dean of UCLA Engineering. “The generous gift from Dr. Garrick and his wife, Amelia, will advance the field to which he has dedicated his career. Most importantly, it will help UCLA train new generations of engineers and applied scientists in broad-based disciplines that will reduce societal risks around the world.”

An advisory board, chaired by Garrick and including experts from academia and industry, will guide the institute. A member of the school’s faculty will be appointed as the institute’s director by the school’s dean.

The institute will build on Garrick’s pioneering work in the discipline. For more than 50 years, he has played a leadership role in developing tools for risk analysis, probability theory, systems engineering and related fields. In 1993, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honor for a U.S. engineer. The academy’s citation honored Garrick “for making quantitative risk analysis an applied science and a fundamental part of engineering design.”

Garrick is the author of the book “Quantifying and Controlling Catastrophic Risks.”  In 2004, Garrick was appointed by President George W. Bush to chair the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, and he served on the board until 2012. He also has been a member of numerous National Academies committees addressing topics including terrorism, nuclear safety, space, chemical weapons, marine systems and automobile safety.

The Garrick Institute will be headquartered in Engineering VI, the state-of-the-art education and research building now under construction on the UCLA campus. The building will open in phases beginning in early 2015.

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