1. ACRE-Duke Bass Connection Project : Improving Sanitation Access in Lowndes County, Alabama

This bass connection project stemmed from the partnership between Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise (ACRE) and Duke’s Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute. The project focuses on tackling current challenge of providing proper sanitation access in Lowndes County, Alabama. In the fall semester, I was part of the mapping team that produced a comprehensive report on publicly available data on waste water infrastructure and related information in Lowndes County. I worked on acquiring various demographic information such as race, household size and housing units from the US Census Bureau and mapped it at a block group level using QGIS. In the spring semester, I am researching on waste water infrastructure in West Virginia to produce a report that highlights the sanitation problem in West Virginia. This report is meant for bringing attention to the poor wastewater infrastructure in US, mainly in the rural areas with onsite septic system. In the report, I will be using QGIS to map the information.

This project is related to GC focus of improving urban infrastructure of waste water systems. Through this research, I gained deeper understanding on the complexities involved in aging infrastructure in US. One of the main challenge was the persisting environmental injustices tied to these issues. More than often, minority groups and disadvantaged communities bear the burden of lack of proper infrastructure due to lack of funding and appropriate engineering solutions.


  • Dr. Elizabeth Albright, Nicholas School of the Environment
  • Dr David Schaad, Pratt School of Engineering
  • Emily Stewart, Franklin Humanities Institute-Duke Human Rights Center
  • Dr. Erika Weinthal, Nicholas School of the Environment-Environmental Sciences and Policy


Dates: August 2018 to April 2019

Total hours: 230 hours


2. Developing early earthquake warning system (EEWS) in Nepal

To an increasing extent, the sustainability of the cities need to involve resiliency against extreme hydrological and geophysical hazards. Resiliency can be characterized in short and long term scales. In long-term scale, it involves construction standards and zoning practices, and the development of organizations that can provide relief on short notice. There is also a strong educational component to long-term resiliency that should create community knowledge and understanding on warning systems and appropriate actions that needs to take during the hazardous event. Earthquake however, provide little to no advance warning. In cities with lots of fragile infrastructure, especially brick and mortar industry, the collapse of buildings is one of the biggest causes of casualties in the earthquake. Around the world, people are advised to “Duck, Cover and Hold on” and not to run outside during the event. In 1980s, the development of earthquake early warning was a huge technical challenge.  Nowadays, with the abundance of cloud computing, micro controller and other technologies, EEWS is in easier reach. Published reports on the design and performance of EEWs provides reference for wider installations around the world. The institutional and social infrastructure required for an EEW system to produce a safe, responsible, and helpful response (not, for example, shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater)  is significantly more challenging than the technology development. In this research project, we will be focusing on Nepal.

A devastating earthquake struck Nepal in April 2015 and took almost nine thousand lives and destroyed many historical sites, buildings and roads in the region. The total economic and financial loss incurred by the natural disaster is estimated to be 7 billion USD according to the post disaster assessment by Nepal National Planning Commission (NPC). As Nepal works to recover from the disaster and build more resilience in their infrastructure, the project aims to complement their effort by assessing the potential of developing an early earthquake warning system. For the upcoming summer, we will survey governmental and nongovernmental organizations, educational institutions about the most pressing needs of developing earthquake resiliency.

The connection between GC theme and the project is the effort to build more sustainable and resilient urban infrastructure in the face of natural hazards of droughts and earthquakes. This phase of the research is mainly

Supervisor: Dr. Henri P. Gavin

Dates: November, 2018 – May, 2019

Total hours: 60 – 70 hours in total or 3 – 4 hours per week for project scoping and planning


3. Uncertainty propagation through Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis 

During fall 2019 semester, I completed an independent study researching uncertainty propagation through Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis (PSHA). Additionally, I worked with Nepali students on other topics regarding hazard analysis.

Supervisor: Dr. Henri Gavin

Dates: September 2019 – December 2019

Total hours: 100 hours

Research Abstract: 

Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis (PSHA) has been used widely over the last 50 years by seismologist and engineers to quantify seismic hazard level and develop building code requirements to build safer buildings for the future. Other applications include determining earthquake insurance rates, deciding safety criteria for nuclear power plants and making official national hazards maps for future safety. Aftermath the recent 2015 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal(a highly seismic prone country), two different PSHA studies (McNamara et al., 2017; Rahman Bai, 2018) were conducted to improve seismic research and these have resulted in better characterization of geometry of the Main Himalayan Thrust (MHT), more complex method of delineating seismic sources and more robust seismic hazard maps by employing recent seismic catalogue. Despite PSHA’s popular use, some sources of uncertainty in the framework are present hence the need to fully encompass the uncertainties through further studies. In this paper, uncertainty deriving from ’b’ value will be studied in a scenario based format. Similar to that of montecarlo simulation, ’b’ values are sampled and their relation with final rate of exceedance is studied to understand it’s uncertainty contribution.

View here: tenzin_PSHAreport