As Disaster and Failure Studies (DFS) Director, Dr. Brown-Giammanco leads a multidisciplinary staff responsible for conducting fact-finding field investigations and studies focused on: building and infrastructure failures; successful building and infrastructure performance; evacuation and emergency response systems; and disaster recovery and community resilience. These field investigations and studies can be carried out under four different statutory authorities at NIST: National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act, National Earthquake Hazard Reduction (NEHR) Act, National Windstorm Impact Reduction (NWIR) Act, and the NIST Organic Act. The results of these field investigations are intended to inform recommendations to improve codes, standards, and practice. The DFS Directors maintains collaborations across the Materials and Structural Systems Division (e.g., Community Resilience, Infrastructure Materials, Structures, and Earthquake Engineering Groups), the Engineering Laboratory (e.g., Fire Research Division, Applied Economics Office, EL Data Security and Technology Group), and other institutions to enable successful technical investigations. While the primary focus of DFS is on events that occur within the United States and its territories, NIST may conduct field reconnaissance of international events when lessons can be learned that are relevant to U.S. construction.
Prior to accepting her new position, Dr. Brown-Giammanco served as Managing Director of Research at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), where she led teams conducting full-scale laboratory and field studies on hail, wind, rain, wildfire, and roofing related projects. She also held a Faculty Associate appointment at Texas Tech since 2010. Dr. Brown-Giammanco was an NSF IGERT Fellow at Texas Tech University, where she earned a PhD in Wind Science and Engineering, while studying the use of remote-sensing technologies to assess windstorm and wildfire damage. She also has a master's degree in Water Resources Science and a bachelor's degree in Atmospheric Science, both from the University of Kansas. Dr. Brown-Giammanco's research has focused on natural hazards and their effects on buildings and roofing, the development of laboratory testing methodologies, and the development of tools, metrics, and statistical relationships to quantify and explain damage states, to advocate for better building practices and materials. She serves as a steering committee member in the development of a new ASCE standard on the estimation of wind speeds in tornadoes and chairs the EF-Scale subcommittee. Dr. Brown-Giammanco is also a member of the Standards Technical Panel for the Impact Resistance of Prepared Roof Covering Materials (UL 2218) standard.