URI faculty speak on deadly earthquake, tsunami in Japan

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KINGSTON, R.I. — March 14, 2011 — — A robust team of faculty and researchers at the University of Rhode Island have offered their time and expertise to help the news media, and thereby the general public, gain a greater understanding of the deadly earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan and other areas on the Pacific coast. The following faculty members are on the front line with regional, national and international media:

Health and Safety

Jeffrey P. Bratberg, clinical associate professor of pharmacy, completed two tours of service in New Orleans after the coastal region had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. An infectious diseases specialist and a member of the Rhode Island Disaster Medical Assistance Team, Bratberg can discuss emergency medical response in a crisis, the public health issues that arise as a result of flooding, lack of clean water and lack of power. Bratberg and fellow Associate Pharmacy Professor Brett Feret will answer questions about the public health challenges in Japan as part of a live student- run webcast, Thursday, March 17 at 5 p.m. Link here for more information.

Economic Impact

Douglas N. Hales, associate professor of operations and supply chain management in URI’s College of Business Administration says the business/economic ripple effect of the tragedy in Japan will be widespread — hitting the United States hardest in the areas of automobiles and high-tech chips for cell phone technology that are sole-sourced in Japan. The closure of the Toyota, Nissan, and Honda auto plants in Japan will cause a global shortage of some models, and as parts are sourced from Japan some US Toyota plants may be affected as well. Similar effects will be felt in the cell phone and related technology-based industries.

Japanese History and Governance

Timothy George is a professor of history and scholar whose work focuses on postwar Japan. He lived in Japan for 16 years, where his two children were born, and maintains many close contacts there. Among other areas, his research has focused on the government’s historic response to some natural and man-made disasters. He said he’s heard from some contacts and notes that many people are leaving Tokyo because they are afraid of the government’s response to the disaster and continued potential nuclear disaster. Historically Japan has not been trustworthy with its response to its people about disasters. He is very concerned about all of this on personal and professional levels. George has been interviewed by USA Today, the BBC and other media.

Nuclear Systems

Bahram Nassersharif is Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics. His research and teaching interests are in the fields of nuclear systems, heat transfer, computational mechanics, and non-destructive testing. He is able to provide general background about nuclear energy as well as an analysis of the issues related to the nuclear power systems in Japan and the earthquake.


Yang Shen, Graduate School of Oceanography Professor, His focus is on seismology and marine geophysics. Shen’s brother and related family are in Japan. He has spoken with them and they are fine. Yang is both a scientist in this area and a Japan-connected person.

Tsunamis – Wave Dynamics

Ocean Engineering Professor Stephan Grilli’s research and teaching interests are focused on the broad areas computational wave and fluid dynamics, coastal and surf-zone modeling and wave-structure interaction — all conditions that apply to things like tsunamis. Grilli has spoken on this topic live on CNN and CNN International, the Providence Journal, WJAR Channel 10, and WPRO radio, among others.

Link to many of the stories with URI faculty listed on the URINewsonline blog.

To reach any of these resources for more information, please contact the URI Department of Communications and Marketing at 874-2116.