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Mirna Kassem

    PhD Student

    Office: Davis 409

    Email: kassem_mirna ‘at’ berkeley ‘dot’ edu

    Mirna Kassem is a PhD candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley, affiliated with the GeoSystems Group and working under the guidance of Professor Dimitrios Zekkos. Her research is centered on the modeling of rainfall-induced landslides at a regional scale, employing two complementary approaches: inversion and forward modeling.

    In the inversion method, Mirna leverages extensive data from mapped landslides inventories resulting from previous rainfall events. By back-calculating shear strengths using inversion against both landslides and non-landslides, she generates geospatially variable strengths. These strengths become integral to a forward modeling approach, where transient flow equations in the saturated and unsaturated zones are solved with a Pseudo-3D slope stability model. The outcomes of this model yield well-defined landslides characterized by individual locations, geometries, areas, volumes, and the timing of failure.

    Mirna’s overarching research vision aims to develop a comprehensive model that considers the coupled influences of earthquakes and rainfall in triggering landslides at a regional scale. This holistic approach seeks to establish a landslide early warning system capable of accounting for climate change and evolving land use, ultimately enhancing community resilience.

    Mirna is the recipient of the prestigious 2022 Harry Bolton Seed Award. She holds a Master of Science degree in GeoSystems Engineering from UC Berkeley. Her academic journey began with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the American University of Beirut where she received several awards for her academic achievements including the Youssef M. Salam Civil Engineering Excellence Award and the Mohamad Ali Safieddine Endowed Award.