Dr. Joseph A. Main is a research structural engineer in the Structures Group of the Materials and Structural Systems Division (MSSD) of the Engineering Laboratory (EL) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). He completed his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in 2002 and joined the Structures Group in January 2005 as a National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Associate. Dr. Main's research interests relate to the evaluation of structural performance under extreme loads, including wind, fire, and local damage scenarios. He is the Program Manager for the Structural Performance under Multi-Hazards Program at NIST.
A major focus of Dr. Main’s recent work has been on evaluation and mitigation of susceptibility to collapse in buildings under local damage scenarios. He leads a research project entitled “Robust Structural Systems for Disproportionate Collapse Mitigation,” and he received the Bronze Medal Award from the Department of Commerce in 2017 for his work in this area. He is the Secretary of the ASCE/SEI Disproportionate Collapse Technical Committee, and he has actively contributed to the development of a new ASCE/SEI Standard on Disproportionate Collapse Mitigation of Building Structures as an Associate Member of the Standard Committee.
Currently, Dr. Main serves as the Associate Team Lead for the NIST Hurricane Maria Program. The goals of this multi-year program are to characterize: (1) the wind environment and technical conditions associated with deaths and injuries; (2) the performance of representative critical buildings and designated safe areas in those buildings, including their dependence on distributed infrastructure such as electric power and water; (3) the performance of emergency communications systems and the public’s response to such communications; and (4) the impacts to and recovery of selected businesses, hospitals, and schools, along with the critical social functions that they provide. Within the Hurricane Maria Program, Dr. Main serves as the Associate Lead Technical Investigator of a National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Investigation of Hurricane Maria’s effects on Puerto Rico. He is leading two projects as part of the NCST Investigation: one focused on hazard characterization and another focused on the performance of critical buildings.