In April, the Chilean Research Center for Integrated Disaster Risk Research (CIGIDEN) recognized College of Environmental Design alumnus and Professor of City and Regional Planning at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo William Siembieda’s (MCP ‘67) contribution to the advancement of Disaster Science in Chile.
CIGIDEN is Chile's leading center of excellence related to multidisciplinary disaster research. This award reflects Siembieda’s service as an International Advisor to CIGIDEN as well as his mentorship of Investigators working in the area of urban management, planning and public policy.
Part of his work in Chile, focused on coastal city recovery planning, was completed as a Fulbright Specialist. A couple of Siembieda’s other contributions include working on disaster recovery, and helping a local university create an urban planning program within the architecture college.
Siembieda’s work with CIGIDEN is an extension of his overall research focus of making the built environment safer, which was also the basis for a 2016 Cal Poly Distinguished Scholar Award.
Two events shaped Siembieda’s current research agenda: formulating a Central America assistance program for people recovering from Hurricane Mitch, and preparing the State of California‘s Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan. These events asked the same research question: how do we make the places where we live safer from natural hazard disasters? Siembieda does this through the design of methods and policies that help mitigate natural hazards impact, while increasing the resiliency of the built environment.
“Making cities safer from hazards means less damage to people’s lives and to the built environment,” says Siembieda. “I help lower disaster risk through resilient land use planning and informed public policy making.”
His global work is on how to implement the best possible recovery and reconstruction outcomes after a large-scale disaster occurs. Locally, his focus is on resiliency and adaptation, making use planning policy decisions that result in risk reduction through partnerships between the civil society, the private sector, and government.