A native of Greece, Katerina Ziotopoulou was deeply affected by the dramatic impact that a severe earthquake had on her hometown of Athens in 1999. Inspired by these events, she decided to become a civil engineer.
Katerina graduated with a Master’s degree with high honors from the Department of Civil Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens, where she specialized in Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering. Katerina gained field experience in Japan and Taiwan, where she participated in a geotechnical earthquake engineering workshop. For her thesis, she performed a significant number of nonlinear site response analyses, corresponding to actual soil profiles and various earthquake excitations, with the goal to critique and improve current seismic code provisions. After being awarded the International Fulbright Science & Technology Award, Katerina began doctoral studies in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis). She works with some of the leading researchers in her field on evaluating modeling (numerical simulation) uncertainties in the prediction of ground deformations during earthquakes. Her research involves the development of models and their evaluation against case history and physical model test data. The most exciting part of her research is the opportunity she has to actively participate in centrifuge experiments, which are state of the art, accurate experiments that simulate conditions found in nature under earthquake excitation. Katerina currently serves as the President of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) Student Chapter of UC Davis where she organizes seminar series, field trips, and other activities to get students involved in EERI and increase their interest in studying earthquakes.