H. Kit Miyamoto, a structural engineer and seismic-resistant design expert, was elected chair of California’s Alfred E. Alquist Seismic Safety Commission, which investigates earthquakes and recommends policies needed for earthquake risk reduction.

Miyamoto previously served as a seismic safety commissioner for the past 8 years and is founder and global chief executive of Miyamoto International,a structural engineering and disaster-risk reduction firm that specializes in earthquake-resilient engineering and disaster recovery. 

SSC, a 15-member commission that elected Miyamoto on Sept. 10, was transferred into the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services on July 1.  

“Its near-term goal is to adjust to its new status within CalOES, identify how to be productive under new leadership and begin to identify projects and policies that can reduce the seismic risk to California in both the short and long term,” Miyamoto tells ENR, which named him an ENR 2011 Newsmaker. 

Miyamoto says the SSC’s main goal is to reduce life and economic loss from earthquake-related disasters. The SSC aims to educate the public and building owners that even if a structure meets building codes, it can still suffer damage from earthquakes. 

SSC also supports CalOES’s public education of the state’s new Earthquake Early Warning Network, which uses ground motion sensors to detect earthquakes before humans can feel them and notifies Californians in advance of an earthquake.