CAREER: Bridging the Global Gap on Understanding Downburst Impacts on Buildings: Field Data-Modeling Research and Education for More Resilient Communities Grant

CAREER: Bridging the Global Gap on Understanding Downburst Impacts on Buildings: Field Data-Modeling Research and Education for More Resilient Communities .


  • This award is funded in whole or in part under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law 117-2).

    This Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award will advance understanding of thunderstorm downburst wind characteristics and the consequent downburst-induced loading on buildings. Downburst wind events are one of the main causes for high wind intensity associated with thunderstorms, which account for significant civil infrastructure damage and fatalities on a yearly basis in the United States and worldwide. There is a major gap in knowledge, considering that the nature of downburst impact on buildings is different and more complex than for straight-line wind and hurricanes. Field measurements are needed to inform large-scale physical simulations and numerical modeling to assess the vulnerability of buildings subjected to downbursts and help close this knowledge gap. In addition, design recommendations to mitigate the impact of downburst events on buildings are currently not available. This award will leverage available national and international downburst field measurements through integrated research and educational collaborations with the University of Genoa (UniGe) in Italy and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign to determine a target range of parameters to inform physical-based simulations of downburst actions on buildings using the National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) Wall of Wind (WOW) facility at Florida International University. The multi-disciplinary, meteorology, wind and structural engineering, and multi-institution research and educational collaboration comprising this project will offer unique research opportunities for students to engage in state-of-the art STEM studies at an international institution. The research outcomes will enable climate-responsive collaboration and fundamentally transformative concepts to mitigate the impact of downburst-driven hazards on civil infrastructure. This award will contribute to the NSF role in the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP).

    This project will address three integrated research and education aims: (1) bridge the gap between meteorology and wind engineering paradigms to inform experimental simulation methods at the NHERI WOW facility to produce realistic downburst flow and to assess the uncertainty in the resulting flow field, (2) analyze and understand the downburst aerodynamic loading on buildings and possible aeroelastic effects using large-scale testing at the NHERI WOW facility, and (3) integrate downburst flow characteristics and aerodynamic and aeroelastic loading research into interconnected educational activities to prepare the next generation of researchers and teachers in the field of windstorm hazards. The virtual exchange through the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) module with the UniGe will provide an international educational experience for underrepresented minorities in the STEM field. The internship exchange program with the UniGe will provide mentored international research experiences for U.S. graduate students. These experiences will expose students to a collaborative research environment and will promote the development of diverse and globally competent STEM professionals. The research outcomes will offer unique datasets that will be made available in the NHERI Data Depot ( for use in future research programs. Ultimately, the research findings can improve windstorm design standards to enhance the resiliency of future construction.

    This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

date/time interval

  • March 1, 2022 - February 28, 2027

sponsor award ID

  • 2146277