May 15, 2021

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Retired RUM Professor Named NOAA Advisor


Professor Aurelio Mercado Irizarry, retired professor of the Department of Marine Sciences of the Mayagüez Campus (RUM) of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), was appointed as a member of the Tsunami Science and Technology Advisor Panel of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the educational institution reported today.

Mercado Irizarry will have the mission of advising on scientific issues and the use of technology related to tsunamis, it was said.

“Once NOAA obtains complete information about something new, it in turn informs the agency administrator and the United States Congress. My functions as an advisor involve the knowledge of modeling, rendering, observations and suggesting new technologies that to date have not been implemented on the issue of tsunamis, ”said Mercado Irizarry, who since 2018 has taken retirement after 39 years as a college teacher , and until last semester he taught his courses as an ad honorem professor.

The professor became the only Puerto Rican among the group of seven scientists on the advisory panel, who come from other agencies at the state level and from academia.

“I will be in charge of a new aspect for me, which I had not worked before and that is the dissemination of information through communication channels. In addition, I will be part of the advice for the mitigation of damages and possible losses, in this way the prediction of future events could be improved, as well as handling the instrumentation part of the messages and alerts ”, added the oceanographer.

“For me it is an honor, since now there are many people who are working with issues related to tsunamis. When I started in 1995, we were very few; and this is due to the increase in these atmospheric phenomena. I worked with hurricanes, coastal flooding and the impact on sea level rise. Now this field is more competitive, “he said.

For his part, the president of the UPR, Jorge Haddock, highlighted the importance of the appointment of the professor for the academy and Puerto Rico.

“On behalf of the entire university community, we extend congratulations to the esteemed professor Aurelio Mercado Irrizarry, who has developed a successful professional career and made a great contribution to the institution and to Puerto Rico, through his apostolate as an educator for the past years. With this appointment, his expertise is recognized once again and he puts his knowledge and extensive experience at the service of the communities, transcending the borders of the island, in an issue where education and planning is fundamental. The greatest success in this new facet. Congratulations! ”Said Haddock.

Meanwhile, Dr. Agustín Rullán Toro, rector of the RUM, also welcomed the news that one of his most respected academics has been appointed to such an important task.

“It fills me with great joy that Professor Mercado Irizarry is part of this NOAA initiative. The achievements of this respected professor are evidence of how far we can go with our goals, if we have the discipline and dedication, and he has exemplified this by his solid academic record. Pride for our nation and for the Department of Marine Sciences of the Campus “, he pointed out.

His trajectory

Mercado Irizarry has been part of various advisory bodies on global warming at the governmental level on the island. In addition, it has been awarded by different entities, such as the Seismic Network, the House of Representatives, the International Tsunami Society, CariCOOS and NOAA itself, which recognized it as Tsunami Ready Champion in 2016.

He completed graduate studies in Physics at the University of Miami and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He worked for more than 15 years in the preparation of storm surge flood maps, as well as on the issue of coastal erosion. She also collaborated for the Federal Emergency Management Agency when she obtained a grant for the tsunami damage warning and mitigation program, as well as with the Puerto Rico College of Engineers, among others.



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