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Liam Wotherspoon

Citation on the award of NZSEE Fellow, April 2018

Liam Wotherspoon is awarded a Fellowship of NZSEE for his services to geotechnical and structural engineering research, leadership, and support of earthquake engineering in New Zealand.

Liam completed his PhD in 2009 with a thesis on structure-foundation design which explored the application of the facilities in Ruaumoko to estimating the response of structure-foundation systems during earthquake excitation. During the PhD period he spent time in Iowa and worked on field testing of prototype bridge foundations in frozen ground in the winter and during the summer. He has continued with bridge foundation work following the Christchurch earthquakes and also on bridges assessment.

On completion of his PhD he was awarded a fellowship funded by the EQC which provided support for students and for costs of field testing. Additionally he has spent a period with the Geotechnical Consulting Group in London.

However, the Christchurch earthquakes have focussed his attention on site investigation techniques and on geophysical measurement of soil profile properties. In this he has collaborated very successfully with staff from the University of Texas at Austin. This expertise was deployed most effectively in Wellington after the 2016 earthquake.

He was awarded the Ivan Skinner award in 2015. He is a member of the QuakeCoRe management committee and leaders group of the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges National Science Challenge programme.

Recently he has supervised PhD projects looking at the vulnerability of port structures to earthquake and tsunami.

Liam’s PhD thesis was aimed at crossing the boundary between the structural and geotechnical camps. His subsequent work has continued that cross-disciplinary focus both in his research and interaction with the profession.

Liam’s contribution and leadership in seismology, geotechnical, earthquake engineering and allied endeavours is appreciated by the Society, and is acknowledged with the award of a New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering Fellowship.