Craig Elliott Taylor, a Leader in Earthquake Engineering and Risk Assessment, Dies at Age 68

June 10, 2014

Craig Elliott Taylor, Ph.D., Aff.M.ASCE, who left an impressive legacy in promoting new methods and ideas in multihazard disaster risk management, passed away in May at the age of 68. Taylor was deeply involved in risk reduction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and improving catastrophe (CAT) risk modeling for the insurance industry, and helped carve out a new direction in CAT modeling, one which strived for more comprehensive simulation of risk and uncertainty. Recently, he developed a series of methods and indices known collectively as “Robust Simulation” to characterize uncertainty in CAT modeling estimates for identifying extreme risks. Born September 20, 1945, Taylor received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Utah and both his master’s and doctoral degrees in philosophy (logical theory) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Following graduation, he worked for several consulting companies, including J.H. Wiggins Company, Dames & Moore (now part of URS Corp.), EQE (now CoreLogic), Baseline Management Co., and Image Cat, Inc., as well as starting his own company, Natural Hazards Management, Inc. Academically, he was an adjunct research professor at the University of Southern California (USC) Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, where his research interests included earthquake engineering and risk assessment, and was a visiting professor at Tongji University, in Shanghai City, China. Working in various capacities, Taylor is probably best known for promulgating the notion of “systems-based” solutions to complex problems and often shared ideas with others in his extensive professional society work. A founding member of ASCE’s Council on Disaster Risk Management (CDRM), he chaired the CDRM’s executive committee from 2005 to 2007 and later served on its Awards Committee, Editorial Committee, and Board of Advisors. A long-time editor for CDRM’s Natural Hazards Review, as well as editor and author of several CDRM monographs and papers, Taylor inspired countless colleagues to write about topics ranging from risk and vulnerability and risk-informed decision making, to advances in information technology for analyses and risk communication. With ASCE, Taylor was also a member of the Wenchuan Earthquake Investigation Team, the Task Committee on Natural Disaster Reduction, the Committee on Earthquake Actuated Automatic Gas Shutoff Devices, and moderator and co-chair of the session at Earth & Space 2006: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Challenging Environments. A recognized leader with ASCE’s Technical Council on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering (TCLEE), he received the TCLEE Lifetime Contribution Award in 2006, and a Certificate of Appreciation for service as chair of ASCE’s Council on Disaster Risk Management in 2008. Taylor was also corecipient of the Applied Technology Council (ATC) Award for Excellence. At the time of his passing, Taylor was coorganizing the ICVRAM (International Conference on Vulnerability and Risk Analysis and Management) minisymposium entitled East-West Contributions on Risk Management for Floods, Tsunamis, Earthquakes, and other Natural Hazards, to facilitate an international exchange on policy implications relating to natural hazard risks. This 2014 minisymposium, held in Liverpool, United Kingdom, is dedicated in honor of Taylor.

  • I had the pleasure and opportunity of meeting Craig through CDRM activities. A wonderful individual and scientist! He will be missed.

  • I had the honor of working with Craig as the ASCE staff contact for CDRM in the early to mid-2000s. He will be greatly missed.

  • Avatar Melissa Taylor Dresler

    thank you for this wonderful tribute to my father.

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