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The University at Buffalo's national earthquake research center has won a $10 million five-year grant to continue efforts to find new technologies that limit quake damage.

Equal funding will go to earthquake centers in California and Illinois, heading off the criticism that rocked the first major National Science Foundation funding of the Buffalo-based National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research in 1986.

"The center has been a leader," said UB President William R. Greiner. "It will continue to be a leader and to take a leadership role in forming important new endeavors in the field."

"There is no better place for this research than the University at Buffalo," said Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. "It is the premier research center in the East."

The earthquake center will use the $10 million to fund research by scientists and engineers at its affiliated laboratories and universities throughout the state.

In the past 11 years, the center has received more than $56 million from the National Science Foundation and has spent nearly $110 million overall -- including state, federal and private-sector funding -- in its research and education programs.

The National Science Foundation grant is the third for the UB center. The $30 million initiative announced by the foundation in Washington today also includes another $20 million in first-time funding for a new Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley and a Mid-America Earthquake Center at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

"These new centers are needed to extend our understanding of the impacts of seismic events on buildings, roads, bridges, energy sources and other components of our built environment and societal institutions," said William A. Anderson, director of the foundation's Earthquake Mitigation Program.

"The knowledge gained through these research centers and shared with engineers, architects and planners will help reduce hazards and save lives," he added.

In a joint statement, Greiner and the heads of the California and Illinois universities -- Chancellors Robert Berdahl at Berkeley and Michael Aiken at Champaign-Urbana -- said the grant "assures that we will be able to build on the progress already made by our institutions and other institutions with which we work as a consortium."

The new grant will be used at UB for a Center for Advanced Technologies in Earthquake Loss Reduction.

"NSF is sending a strong signal that the concept of center-funded earthquake engineering research pioneered by (the UB center) has proven to be an effective way to develop methods of mitigating the damage wrought by earthquakes," said center director George C. Lee.

The money will be spent in three key areas:

Developing methods to better estimate losses from future quakes.

Exploring new technologies to strengthen critical buildings and such "lifelines" as pipe and transportation systems.

Improving the effectiveness of emergency response and crisis management.

"While earthquakes are inevitable natural hazards, they do not have to be inevitable natural disasters," Lee said.

The UB-based center maintains research links with other state campuses and facilities, Cornell University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and centers in Delaware, Nevada, California, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Joint projects also have been run with researchers in Japan and China, and research spin-offs have benefited several Western New York technology businesses.

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