By Roadtrip Nation

Ahmad Itani


My road in life has been direct.
Growing up in Lebanon, there were really only two educational paths: medicine and engineering—I chose engineering because I couldn’t handle the sight of blood.
I came to the U.S. in 1985 when I was 22 years old to escape Lebanon’s civil war and further my education.
I received my master’s degree and Ph.D. in civil engineering at the University of Michigan.
When I finished my Ph.D., I found a job in California at the state’s earthquake office—I moved across the country by myself to find a place to live before flying back to Michigan to bring my family.
After three years in California, I relocated to the earthquake engineering group at University of Nevada, Reno.
My expertise as a researcher is in the seismic behavior of steel bridges and structures.
I thought I would work at the University of Nevada, Reno, for a few years and then move on, but I ended up staying and moving up through the ranks over the years.
After holding the position of department chair, I now work as the associate vice president for research where my main goal is to help our researchers achieve their full potential.


Foundation Professor & Associate Vice President for Research

I help the university's researchers get more proposals and funding and then enable their research.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Helping People

Day to Day

I talk to department chairs, deans, and faculty at the university to understand what we have and what we need. I encourage the development of multidisciplinary projects, help faculty make connections to other colleagues and opportunities, and develop resources, infrastructure, and student involvement to support research and scholarly activities. My daily contribution is to dissolve administrative barriers while fostering a culture that serves research.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

Learn how to manage your time so that you can devote time every day to your studies. College is a journey, not the final destination, but this time in college is very important in molding your future, through your coursework and the extra-curricular skills you'll learn along the way. If you have a job or other obligations, make sure you're still giving a significant amount of time and effort to your college life.


The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"Don't ask for help."

Challenges I Overcame

Gangs / Violence
First-Generation Immigrant

Interviewed By

All In

All In

Innovative careers in Nevada’s historic industries