Tonatiuh Rodriguez-Nikl

College of Engeering, Computer Science, and Technology
Department of Civil Engineering
Office Location: ET A-217
Phone: (323) 343-4456 Email:


I am an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering in the area of Structural Engineering. My areas of expertise are earthquake engineering,
structural testing, blast mitigation, fiber reinforced polymers, and green building materials and systems. I was recently awarded funds by the NSF for a shake table for seismic testing, which will occupy the majority of my time. I also have broader interests in the areas of sustainability and resilience. I am championing a campus effort to launch the Institute for Urban Sustainability to support interdisciplinary research in all areas of sustainability. Other areas of interest are systems thinking, complexity, contending with uncertainty, and theoretical paradigms for sustainability and resilience.

This web page provides a brief overview of my research and teaching interests. Please visit for more, including publications and CV. (Cal State LA is currently mandating a migration of web content to a new platform. The old Cal State LA faculty webpage at will still be available until I finish the transition.)

Schedule for Current Term

I am not teaching in Fall 2016 due to parental leave and other assignments. I have no scheduled office hours in Fall 2016.


I was born in Mexico as a dual US/Mexico national. I moved to the United States shortly before my teens. I studied Civil Engineering at U.C. Berkeley (B.S. and M.S.). During this time I developed my broader interests with coursework in philosophy (enough for a minor that I didn't declare). I then worked at Wiss, Janney, Elstner in Emeryville evaluating buildings and designing retrofits. I completed my Ph.D. and post-doctoral training at the University of California, San Diego, in the Department of Structural Engineering, where I focused on blast loading and advanced composites. After the Ph.D. became interested in understanding and reducing the environmental impacts of construction. In 2008 I joined the faculty of Oregon State University. In 2011 I started at Cal State LA and in 2016 I was awarded early tenure and promotion to Associate Professor.


My research activites follow a breadth-on-top-of-depth model. My technical focus is in laboratory-based experimental testing of structural components and systems under seismic loading. My special interest is on the seismic resistance of green building technologies, a topic that I have explored both experimentally and computationally. I was recently awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation for a shake table for seismic testing on the CSULA campus. This shake table is being installed and will be operational shortly.

My interdisciplinary interests revolve around sustainability and disaster resilience. What does it mean to be sustainable? What is the structural engineer's role in sustainability? How are sustainability and disaster resilience related? What is the role of uncertainty, models, systems, and complexity in sustainability and resilience? How do we make effective decisions in the face of the extreme uncertainty faced with long-term problems?

Teaching and Advising

I teach a range of classes in structural mechanics: statics, strength of materials, structural mechanics (I and II), and structural dynamics. Other classes taught at Cal State LA or elsewhere include programming, design of steel structures, and blast loading of structures. As with research, my teaching interests extend beyond technical topics. I teach a freshman-level seminar class for the Reading LA sequence in the Honor's College. This class, which covers disasters and resilience in Los Angeles, is taught from a social science perspective. I have also been closely involved in the creation of the new engineering ethics course, which was co-developed with the Philosophy department.

I advise the EERI student group, which competes annually in the Seismic Design competition.

Professional Activities

I was recently a member of the Sustainability Committee of the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI). Within that committee I founded and chaired the Disaster Resilience Working Group. I am also active with the SEI Engineering Philosophy committee and have contributed to the work of the Sustainability Committee of the American Concrete Institute. I am a regular reviewer for the Journal of Structural Engineering and a member of the International Editorial Board of Civil Engineering and Environmental Systems.

I am a registered Civil Engineer in California and have completed Safety Assessment Program (SAP) training for post-earthquake evaluation of buildings. I have also completed Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training.