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 currently the Program Manager for the NIST Hurricane Maria Program and the Associate Program Manager for the Structural Performance under Multi-Hazards Program.
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. From 2012 to 2020, he led 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 Chair 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 Standards Committee.
Currently, Dr. Main serves as the Team Lead for NIST’s Technical Investigation of Hurricane Maria and its impacts on Puerto Rico. This multi-year Investigation is being conducted under the authorities of the National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act, and its goals 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 infrastructure; and (3) the performance of emergency communications systems and the public’s response to such communications. As part of this investigation, Dr. Main leads a project focused on the performance of critical buildings in Hurricane Maria.