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Dr. Therese P. McAllister

Dr. Therese P. McAllister is a research structural engineer in the Structures Group of the Materials and Structural Systems Division (MSSD) of the Engineering Laboratory (EL) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Current research activities include disaster resilience of building and infrastructure systems and the performance of structures in fire. She serves on several standards and technical committees of the American Society of Civil Engineers and on a task group for the National Research Council’s Strategic Highway Research Program. She was a co-leader for the Structural Fire Response and Collapse of the NIST WTC Investigation and a member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers risk analysis team for the levees around New Orleans. She received her PhD in Civil Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. 

Dr. McAllister has specialized expertise in the performance of structures in fire, including nonlinear finite element modeling of structural systems, nonlinear temperature-dependent material models, and thermally-induced failure modes. She is leading research that includes performance-based methodologies for structures subject to fire, which includes evaluating existing tools, standards, and design practices. In 2001-2002, Dr. McAllister was editor of the FEMA World Trade Center Building Performance Study (FEMA 403, May 2002) and FEMA’s technical representative of the FEMA/ASCE investigative team. From 2002-2008, she was the Co-Leader for the Structural Fire Response and Collapse of WTC 1, WTC 2, and WTC 7 of the NIST World Trade Center Investigation. She received the U.S. DOC Gold Medal Award for contribution towards conducting the federal building and fire investigation of the World Trade Center disaster. Dr. McAllister also has expertise in structural reliability, risk assessment, and disaster resilience of buildings and infrastructure systems. Prior to joining NIST, she conducted forensic studies of structural failures from 1989 to 1995. She has conducted detailed studies of the WTC disaster, Hurricane Katrina flooding in New Orleans, and Hurricane Sandy flood effects on critical systems. She is conducting research on how physical systems in communities respond during extreme events to identify gaps in practice, codes, and standards to develop a risk-consistent, performance based systems approach to community resilience. During 2006-2007, she was a member of the Interagency Performance Evaluation Taskforce (IPET) risk analysis team for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which developed a risk-based analysis method for assessing the performance of the Hurricane Protections System around New Orleans to storm surge events. She received the USACE Commander’s Award for Public Service.

Dr. McAllister is actively involved in the development of codes and standards, and participates in the following activities:

  • Voting Member, Main Committee for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Standard 7: Minimum Loads for Buildings and Other Structures
  • Chair, ASCE 7 Task Committee on Strength (Load Combinations)
  • Member, ASCE 7 Task Committee on General Structural Requirements
  • Member, ASCE Technical Council on Life-Cycle Performance, Safety, Reliability and Risk of Structural Systems, Task Group 3 Risk Assessment of Structural Infrastructure Facilities and Risk-Based Decision Making
  • Member, ASCE Technical Activities Division, Fire Protection Committee 
  • Member, International Code Council (ICC) International Building Code (IBC) Structural Code Committee (2012-2013)
  • Member, National Research Council (NRC) Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) Renewal Technical Expert Task Group (T-ETG) on Innovative Bridge Designs for Rapid Renewal and Durable Bridges for Service Life Beyond 100 Years (2007-2013)
Dr. McAllister is a registered professional engineer in Maryland. She was elected to ASCE SEI Fellow in 2013 for her contributions to the structural engineering profession.
Dr. Therese P. McAllister


Research Structural Engineer
Materials and Structural Systems Division
Structures Group


The Johns Hopkins University, Ph.D. Structural Engineering, 2000

The Johns Hopkins University, M.S. Structural Engineering, 1998

Oregon State University, M.S. Ocean Engineering, 1986

Florida Atlantic University, B.S. Ocean Engineering, 1979


Phone: 301-975-6078