ISU professor lobbies for money to study tornado, wind effec

By JANE NORMAN, REGISTER WASHINGTON BUREAU, June 21, 2005

Washington, D.C. - Iowa State University's lobbying push for more money for tornado and wind research blew into the nation's capital on Monday in the form of Partha Sarkar, an associate professor of aerospace engineering.

Sarkar has become a sort of celebrity professor of disaster with his new $1.25 million wind tunnel at ISU, a device that can generate wind speeds of up to 110 mph. He's appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" and the "NBC Nightly News," and a "National Geographic Explorer" documentary crew recently spent three days on campus.

Sarkar also worked with colleagues to develop an 11-foot-high tornado simulator to study the effects of storms on structures.

But winds and tornadoes are still stepchildren for federal research money compared to more eye-popping natural disasters like earthquakes, said Sarkar, although there are on average 800 to 1,000 tornadoes a year causing 80 deaths and 1,500 injuries.

Relatively few universities have stormed into the field of wind and its effect on buildings and bridges, "mainly because funding in the wind area has not been as much as we would like," Sarkar said.

Iowa, with its location in "Tornado Alley," is the ninth-most prone state for tornadoes, with an estimated $50 million in annual damages, according to ISU. But windblown states in the alley are also far from Washington policymakers.

more:
http://desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll...10393/1001/NEWS
 
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