Adda M. Athanasopoulos-Zekkos, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE, is the recipient of the Arthur Casagrande Professional Development Award for her contributions in the seismic risk assessment of levee protection systems against flooding.
Assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Michigan, Athanasopoulous-Zekkos’ studies of earthen levees have taken 3 important directions: risk assessment based on GIS information systems, ground motion selection for predicting levee response, and development of novel levee cutoff walls. She has developed a new GIS-based risk assessment tool that incorporates and analyzes information on levee vulnerability at locations of known soil stratigraphy and properties, and then analytically interpolates between these locations to provide a spatially continuous analysis of levee vulnerability.
In her research related to ground motion selection for levee design, the ground motion intensity parameters were determined by investigating the variability of levee response in terms of triggering soil liquefaction and seismic slope stability. This work resulted in an invitation for Athanasopoulous-Zekkos to present a lecture at the 2008 Consortium of Organizations for Strong Motion Observation Systems annual meeting, as well as multiple journal and conference papers.
A National Science Foundation Fellow for NEES ENHANCE (2012), and a recipient of the Elizabeth C. Crosby Research Award (2010, 2011), Athanasopoulous-Zekkos is currently codirecting research that aims at developing novel types of cut-off walls for levees; these cut-off walls are intended to mitigate multiple risks, such as excess seepage, seismic response, construction cost and time, and sustainable fabrication. This project has resulted in 3 refereed publications on the response of earthen levees subject to progressive rupture and on the influence of a thin layer of sensitive, soft soils within the foundation soils.