Henry Burton, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, has been named the inaugural holder of the Englekirk Presidential Chair in Structural Engineering.
The chair was established with a $500,000 gift from UCLA alumnus Robert Englekirk and his wife, Natalie. The Englekirk gift was matched dollar-for-dollar by the University of California Office of the President. The UCOP Presidential Endowed Chair program is designed to attract and retain distinguished faculty across disciplines by helping to fund new endowed chairs at all 10 UC campuses.
Burton joined the UCLA Engineering faculty in 2014. His research interests are in increasing the resilience of structures and communities in relation to natural hazards while incorporating sustainable practices in building construction, maintenance and operation. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University and his master’s degree and Ph.D. from Stanford University.
In 2015 Burton won the National Science Foundation CAREER award, the agency’s highest honor for engineers and scientists early in their research careers. In 2014 he received an NSF Next Generation of Hazards and Disaster Researchers Fellowship. He is active in the UC-Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Initiative, which brings scholars from HBCUs, including Burton’s undergraduate alma mater, to conduct research at UCLA and other UC campuses.
“I am honored to be the inaugural holder of the Englekirk Presidential Chair in Structural Engineering and grateful to Robert and Natalie for their generous gift to the department,” Burton said. “The funding provided as part of the chair will enable me to further my research, teaching and outreach related to enhancing the resilience of urban regions to disasters.”
Robert Englekirk, who earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. from UCLA Engineering in 1965 and 1970, respectively, is an internationally recognized structural engineering expert known for his innovative and constructible design of reinforced concrete. He is founder and former chairman of the Los Angeles-based firm Englekirk, which has built more than $100 billion worth of construction projects, including the Getty Center, the Dolby Theater, buildings on the UCLA campus, and hotels and shopping centers across the country.
Englekirk has served as an adjunct professor at UCLA and UC San Diego, and as a lecturer at USC. In 2005 his family established the Robert and Natalie Englekirk Structural Engineering Center at UCSD. In 2016 he was named UCLA Engineering’s Alumnus of the Year.
“Natalie and I created this chair to ensure that UCLA remains a leader in seismic and structural engineering, and we are pleased to see that Professor Burton is the first to hold the chair,” Englekirk said. “His work is taking this field, vital to the safety and prosperity of people around the world, forward to new breakthroughs and even greater societal impact.”