FIU Chile Earthquake Experts

The Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC) and Florida International University have a number of professors who study Chile and Latin America, as well as professors who can address issues related to the earthquake in Chile. Several have been featured or quoted in stories about the recent earthquake in Haiti. This is a list of experts willing to offer their insight to media and the public. This list is being updated continuously here.

For assistance reaching any of these professors, please call the Office of Media Relations at 305-348-2232:


Grenville Draper
Earth Sciences Professor
Grenville Draper is professor of geology in the Department of Earth and Environment. He studies tectonics and deformation processes in the Earth’s crust including the behavior of faults and earthquake generation. His research is based in the Caribbean, but he has extensive knowledge of the tectonics of South America.Professor Draper speaks Spanish. To view a video of Draper discussing the recent earthquake in Haiti, click here.

Rosemary Hickey-Vargas
Professor of Geology and Chair of the Department of Earth & Environment
Rosemary Hickey-Vargas has investigated the volcanoes of Chile since 1982, and she is an expert on magma generation at convergent plate margins. She is familiar with the geology and geography of Chile, and has travelled there numerous times for geologic fieldwork, conferences and leisure. In 2007, Hickey-Vargas convened an international conference about volcanism, together with colleagues from SERNAGEOMIN, Chile’s Servicio Nacional de Geologia y Mineria, which was held in Puyehue, Chile. She is also a member of the national steering committee for the U.S. National Science Foundation’s MARGINS program, which investigates geologic processes at continental margins. Hickey-Vargas can discuss geologic hazards in Chile.
305-348-3471 (office)

Dean Whitman
Associate Professor of Geophysics
Dean Whitman received his PhD in Geological Sciences in 1993 from Cornell University. He has used observations of earthquakes, gravity anomalies and topography to study the structure and tectonics of the central Andean Plateau of Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia. He has also investigated the nature and distribution of earthquakes that occur in the Subandes of northwest Argentina and has used gravity anomalies to study the tectonics and sedimentary basin formation in Columbia.
305-348-3089 (office)

José F. Longoria
Professor of Geology
Jose Longoria’s research focuses on the science behind natural disasters including earthquakes, landslides, volcanoes, flooding, tsunami, hurricanes, tornados, and human-induced disasters. He has worked on the mitigation and vulnerability of human society to natural disasters in collaboration with national associations of civil engineers from several Latin American countries. Longoria, who works with Spanish language television and radio stations, leads the weekly live radio segment “La Ciencia Detras de los Desastres Naturales”. His research resulted in the establishment of an integrated system of civil protection which has been implemented in several regions of Mexico and Central America. In 1992, he created a course on natural disasters at FIU. Professor Longoria is available for interviews in Spanish.
305-348-3614 (office)
786-210-0590 (cell)

Florentin J. Maurrasse
Professor of Geology
Florentin J. Maurrasse has a Ph.D from Columbia University where he completed a dissertation on the Caribbean Sea region. He is an expert on Haiti’s geology and has studied the geology of all the Caribbean islands, Mexico, and northern South America. Maurasse can discuss the general principles of plate tectonics that led to the earthquake in Chile.
305-348-2350 (office)


Richard Olson
Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department
Richard Olson teaches about the political fallout from natural disasters such as the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971, which was precipitated when a massive cyclone hit the Southeast Asian country. Olson, a former contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has done work in the aftermath of disasters such as Hurricane Mitch in Central America. Dr. Olson, an expert on disasters, can speak about what should be done in the aftermath of the earthquake. To view a video of Dr. Olson discussing the recent earthquake in Haiti, click here.
305-348-6398 (office)


Amir Mirmiran
Dean, College of Engineering and Computing
Amir Mirmiran is dean of FIU’s College of Engineering and Computing. A civil/structural engineer by training and former chairman of FIU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Mirmiran is currently involved in research with the National Science Foundation’s Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). In this research, he collaborates with colleagues from UC-Berkeley, UC-San Diego, Stanford, and University of Nevada-Reno on the next generation of bridges that would sustain large earthquake damages. He also has two U.S. patents on composite construction to improve earthquake resistance of columns.
305-348-6050 (office)
305-348-2522 (office)

José D. Mitrani
Associate Professor, Construction Management
Mitrani, past chairman of the Department of Construction Management, has more than 25 years of experience as an engineering consultant, contractor and professor. Mitrani has extensive academic and industry experience in civil/structural engineering and construction, and hurricane issues that encompass and bridge both disciplines. Mitrani can address construction, structural engineering and building code issues. Mitrani is available for interviews in Spanish.
305-348-3654 (office)


Pilar Martin
Assistant Professor, College of Medicine
Martin is a professor in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine’s Department of Humanities, Health and Society. Martin is a family/preventive medicine physician with years of experience in public health and developing public health curricula, including programs in Latin America. Martin can conduct interviews in Spanish.
305-342-8400 (cell)