Rajesh Dhakal

Citation on the award of NZSEE Fellow, April 2017

Rajesh Dhakal is awarded a Fellowship of NZSEE for his services to the education of young engineers, the NZSEE Bulletin, and earthquake engineering in New Zealand.

Rajesh joined the University of Canterbury, Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering in 2003 as a lecturer in concrete structures. This appointment followed his undergraduate studies in his native Nepal, ME studies in Thailand, PhD studies in Japan (2000) where he specialized in the behavior of reinforced concrete columns, and a post-doctoral position at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. During his time at the University of Canterbury, Rajesh has developed as an active faculty member with strong teaching and research skills. His particular research areas are focused on earthquake loss estimation, performance of non-structural elements, and seismic resistant performance of reinforced concrete structures. In December 2013 Rajesh was appointed to Associate Professor at the University of Canterbury, then Professor in January 2014.

During his time at Canterbury Rajesh has filled teaching positions and collaborated in research at various tertiary institutes around the world, including:

  • 2009: Visiting Professor, National University of Malaysia (UKM), Malaysia.
  • 2010: Senior Fellow, Australian Defence Force Academy, UNSW, Australia.
  • 2015: Visiting Professor, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Laussane (EPFL), Switzerland (tenure not completed due to Nepal Earthquake).
  • 2015: Visiting Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITG), India (tenure not completed due to Nepal Earthquake).

Rajesh has provided major input to organizing a number of conferences and workshops including several ACMSM Conferences, the 10PCEE conference, and NZSEE Annual conferences. He has developed and presented training seminars for engineers in New Zealand and Nepal on various aspects of mitigating the damaging effects of earthquakes, and seminars on best practice from his teaching, research and practice experience. Rajesh is involved as an editorial board member of a number of journals including the ASCE Journal of Structural Engineering. He himself has written almost 100 journal papers and 177 conference papers, and contributed technical material for 8 books on earthquake engineering.

In 2014 Rajesh took over the Editorial role for the NZSEE Bulletin. To enhance the capability of the Bulletin to attract a greater range of papers, Rajesh set up an Editorial Board with members from overseas as well as New Zealand. This has increased the rigor and recognition of the Bulletin, with a greater number of papers submitted for publication. Special editions of the Bulletin have focused on particular aspects of seismic engineering such as the June 2014 issue on Unreinforced Masonry, and the March 2016 issue on Seismic Performance of Non-structural Elements (SPONSE).

Investigation of seismic events has played a large part in Rajesh’s experience and practice. Being present in Christchurch during the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence heightened his appreciation of the wider effects of a major earthquake, with lessons learnt incorporated into his teaching, research and publications. Again in 2015, the Gorkha earthquake in Nepal brought new experiences, challenges and demands. Following the earthquake, Rajesh changed his sabbatical plans and returned to Nepal to assist with the recovery and reconstruction. For this work he received high-level Nepalese governmental commendation.

Rajesh has earned many other accolades associated with his teaching, supervision of post-grad students and research. He has also been awarded the NZSEE Ivan Skinner Scholarship Award in 2007, Otto Glogau Award in 2008 & 2012, Best Poster Award 2007 & 2011, and Best Research Paper Award in 2014.

As Editor of the NZSEE Bulletin, Rajesh is an active member of the NZSEE Management Committee, first elected onto the committee in 2010.

Rajesh’s contribution to earthquake engineering teaching, research and practice is appreciated by the Society, and is acknowledged with the award of a New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering Fellowship.