Eulogy to Professor Nicholas N. Ambraseys
Sadly, at the final phase of all these preparations for Vol.11 N.1, our very dear and very distinguished Editorial Board Member Prof. Nicholas Ambraseys passed away on December 28, 2012 at the age of 83. Prof. Ambraseys played a very positive and crucial role in the initiation of the Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering ten years ago. He attended the EAEE Executive Committee Meeting held in Lisbon on September 16, 2000 and supported the publication of a new technical journal as the official journal of EAEE. As the Editorial Board of BEE, we believe it would be very appropriate to dedicate this issue to our great mentor, colleague and great researcher, Professor Nicholas Ambraseys. He recently submitted two manuscripts to be published in BEE. The first one “Assessment of the long-term seismicity of Athens from two classical columns” was published in the V.10 N.6 (2012). The second one “Ottoman archives and the assessment of the seismicity of Greece 1456–1833” is in the review stage.
Professor Ambraseys was born in Athens and raised in Alexandria, received his diploma in engineering at the National Technical University of Athens in 1952 and then Civil Engineering at Imperial College specialising in Soil Mechanics and Engineering Seismology. He obtained his PhD degree in 1958. Early in his career (between 1958 & 68) he served as young faculty (Assist. Prof.) at the Civil Engineering Dept. of the University of Illinois and also as Professor of Civil Engineering Dept. at the National University of Athens. He later joined Imperial College as a Lecturer and he was appointed as Reader in Engineering Seismology in 1968 and full Professor of Engineering Seismology in 1974. He retired in 1994 and became Emeritus Professor of Engineering Seismology and Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College London. Since few years he was a member of the Academy of Athens (one out of only two engineers in that small and nationally prestigious body), commuting between London & Athens.
According to Prof. S. Bubnov, (past president of EAEE, from Slovenia, at that time a part of former Yugoslavia), Prof. Ambraseys was the first one who suggested the creation of the European organization for earthquake engineering. Later, Prof. Ambraseys, Prof. S. Bubnov and Prof. S. Medvedev (from former USSR) became the co-founders of European organization that was decided in the constitutive meeting held in Skopje on October 1, 1964 during the International Seminar on Earthquake Engineering in Skopje between Sep. 29 and Oct. 2, 1964. During this meeting with the support of delegates from France, Iran, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Turkey, UK, and USSR, it was decided unanimously to establish European Commission of the International Association for Earthquake Engineering. Prof. Ambraseys was elected as the first Secretary of the Commission. In 1966, based on the suggestions and decisions of the International Association of Earthquake Engineering, the European Commission became an independent organization and the name was changed to European Committee for Earthquake Engineering, ECEE in 1970. Prof. Ambraseys was elected as the Second Vice President of ECEE on September 16, 1970. He was also appointed as Co-Chairmen of the Working Group for strong motion and interaction between the ground and the structure under seismic loads with late Prof. G. Grandori. Prof. Ambraseys served as the Coordinator of the Working Groups and Task Groups related to “Strong Motion” for 40 years until he asked for his retirement in 2010. He was always extensively involved in the European Strong Motion Database.
Prof. Ambraseys served as the Second Vice President of ECEE until the Fifth, but actually for the first time named as European Conference of Earthquake Engineering held in Istanbul in 1975. In the Executive Committee meeting of ECEE on September 22–23, 1975, the name of the organization was changed as the European Association for Earthquake Engineering. Prof. Ambraseys was elected as an Honorary Member of EAEE, in the General Assembly in Lisbon in 1986.
EAEE started in 2008 the Prof. Nicholas Ambraseys Distinguished Lecture Award to be given to the distinguished European researchers in the field of Earthquake Engineering residing in one of the member countries. The motivations for the Prof. Nicholas Ambraseys Distinguished Lecture Award were to honour Prof. Nicholas Ambraseys, a pioneer in Earthquake Engineering in Europe; to award European leading researchers in the field of earthquake engineering; to recognize and encourage outstanding contributions in the field of earthquake engineering in Europe, and to promote European Association for Earthquake Engineering.
We are deeply saddened with the premature farewell of our very beloved co-founder and peer in the field of earthquake engineering in Europe. His memory will always be with us through his articles and books.