The late George W. Housner was the C. F. Braun Professor Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology. He was one of the pioneers of earthquake engineering, and his research revealed the characteristics of destructive ground shaking and improved seismic design methods for many types of structures. He chaired the Consulting Board for Earthquake Problems of the California Department of Water Resources, the Caltrans Seismic Advisory Board, and the Governor's Board of Inquiry on the Loma Prieta Earthquake. Engineering projects on which Professor Housner consulted include the California Water Project, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit System, the trans-Arabian pipeline, as well as numerous dams, buildings, nuclear facilities, ports and off-shore oil platforms.
Professor Housner's contributions to earthquake engineering were recognized by his election to both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. He served the Academies in many capacities, including as chairman of committees on earthquake engineering research, the International Decade of Natural Hazard Reduction, and the investigation into the 1964 Alaskan earthquake. In 1978, he led a delegation of earthquake engineers to the People's Republic of China as a follow-up to President Nixon's historic trip there six years earlier. Professor Housner was awarded the National Medal of Science, the National Academy of Engineering's Founders Award, and the California Earthquake Safety Foundation's Alquist Award, and he held honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Michigan and the University of Southern California.