Dissertation Fellowships in Hazards, Risk, and Disasters
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2004 Fellows

Aurélie Brunie
Household Disaster Preparedness:
Assessing The Importance Of Relational And Community Social Capital
City and Regional Planning
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Aurélie Brunie is currently a PhD candidate in the City and Regional Planning program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is originally from Marseille, France, and has been living in the US since 2000. She graduated from the Ecole Centrale de Lyon, a French engineering Grande Ecole, and from Penn State University with a MS in Environmental Pollution Control. Her eclectic background reflects the evolution of her interests from science to social impacts to sustainable development. She is particularly interested in the concepts of social capital, empowerment and collective action and the design of programs that can empower beneficiaries to take control of their lives to achieve more equitable and acceptable outcomes.

Dissertation Work
Dr. Brunie is a native French speaker and earned her Doctorate degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2007. Her dissertation examined the association between two variants of social capital (relational and community social capital) and three aspects of household disaster preparedness: awareness of protective measures, knowledge of evacuation procedures and familiarity with response agencies. Relational social capital reflects the resources embedded in personal networks, while community social capital refers to the features of social organization (e.g., networks, norms and social trust) that promote cooperation within a group. This research was based on fieldwork conducted in Dominica and supported by a 2004 national PERISHIP Award.

Patricia Alvarado
Department of Geosciences
University of Arizona

I was born in San Juan, a central west Andean province of Argentina. Historically, several damaging earthquakes have occurred there (1894, 1944, 1952, 1977). I felt the 1977 earthquake and that experience inspired my early motivation to study Seismology. After finishing school, I attended the National University of San Juan (UNSJ) to obtain the degree of Licenciado en Geofisica in 1992. Then, I became an Assistant Professor at the UNSJ to teach in the Geophysics Undergraduate Program. After marrying in 1993, I went to Chile to pursue a Master Degree. My experience was exceptional because Chile offers both a traditional Seismology program and a rich natural environment for seismological research. I completed my studies in the University of Chile in March 1998. I left Santiago with an appreciation for research, good friends and a very promising return to my country. In Argentina, I initiated research collaborations with USA and Chile and our proposals were funded to develop two seismologic projects from 2000 to 2002. An important event occurred at the end of 1998. I gave birth to my daughter, and I discovered the wonderful role as a mother. The research project Chile-Argentina Geophysical Experiment (CHARGE) funded by NSF was conducted by the University of Arizona (UofA) in Argentina and Chile to study the seismic subduction zone. It represented the first seismologic study using modern technology (broadband seismic instrumentation) in the region. I was the main collaborator in my country. I was very fortunate to meet an excellent group of experts of the UofA interested in working in the Andes.

Dissertation Work
Counting on the valuable support of my family and many institutions, I started a Ph.D. program in Geosciences at the UofA in 2002 working with Dr. Susan Beck. I am analyzing the modern CHARGE data to study the crustal seismicity and the crustal structure of the Andes backarc region of Argentina. My research work consists of obtaining the focal mechanisms and source depths for as many of these crustal earthquakes as possible using regional seismic techniques. The Sierras Pampeanas and Precordillera geologic terranes have a long history of devastating earthquakes in Argentina. Within the past century, at least three crustal earthquakes with magnitudes larger than 7.0 have caused approximately 10,000 deaths and major economic losses. Only the 1977 earthquake has been studied in any detail. I will study these previous large events using historic seismograms recorded at teleseismic distances, which will require collecting and digitizing historic paper seismograms, and developing techniques to constrain their source parameters. This will allow me to extend my study of the crustal seismicity from the present day to a 60-year-long period. The longer period of time will be very important to evaluating the seismic hazards of the region.

Oyuntsetseg Chuluundorj
Doctoral Program in Health and Behavioral Sciences
University of Colorado Denver

Oyuntesetseg Chuluundorj is a Ph.D. student in the Program of Health and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver. She received her M.D. from the National Medical University of Mongolia, M.A. in medical anthropology from the University of Colorado Denver. Her research interests include maternal and child health, health disparities and social inequalities, social vulnerability to natural disasters, the application of GIS in community health studies, and community-based health promotion.

Dissertation Work 
This study will examine the consequences of social vulnerability in Mongolia. Changes to the political and economic environment in the past decade due to the liberal economic reforms have created new levels and patterns of vulnerability among rural pastoralists in Mongolia. Conflicts over pasture, failure of market institutions, animal theft and emerging social inequality have disrupted traditional adaptive strategies employed by herders and have created rural households highly vulnerable to natural disasters such as summer drought and winter cold and snow. This research will identify the main biophysical and environmental challenges that affect Mongolian herders in this new political economic context, discover the strategies used by households to manage this risk, and determine whether these strategies are sufficient to buffer environmental risk and to maintain household well-being across a population. This study will thus provide information relevant to poverty remediation in Mongolia and identify mechanisms for reducing vulnerability to natural hazards.

Li-ju Jang
The 921 Earthquake: A Study Of The Effects Of Taiwanese Cultural Factors On Resilience
Department of Medical Sociology & Social Work
Chung Shan Medical University

Li-ju Jang is an assistant professor at the Department of Medical Sociology and Social Work of the Chung Shan Medical University, Taiwan. She received her BSW degree from Brigham Young University-Hawaii, MSW from Brigham Young University, and PhD from the University of Denver in Social Work. Her interest areas are human response to natural disaster, disaster resilience, and posttraumatic growth. Her interest area was mental health when she undertook her MSW program in 1998. But September 21, 1999, a devastating earthquake that the people of Taiwan refer to as "The 921 Earthquake" shook the island, causing more than 2,400 fatalities and leaving over 100,000 people homeless. The epicenter was only 30 miles away from Li-ju's home town of Feng Yuan. Subsequently, she changed her research area and is now studying human responses to natural disasters. In 2001, she did a pilot project on the response of people in Feng Yuan to The 921 Earthquake. She interviewed survivors, body handlers, and witnesses. She found that cultural factors related to family and religion played key roles in resilience. Li-ju has continued her work on the adaptive and functional influences exerted by culture and coping style on disaster response. Her dissertation examines the conditions of repeated exposure to natural disaster that increase resilience. Her dissertation is entitled The 921 Earthquake: A study of the effects of Taiwanese cultural factors on resilience.

Dissertation Work 
The problem addressed by this study is the identification of the relative contribution that various cultural factors have in the development and exercise of resilience. The culture of focus in this study is the Taiwanese culture. Because Taiwan has a long history of battling natural disasters, such as earthquakes and typhoons, the repeated exposure to disasters creates a natural laboratory for disaster science, but, more importantly for this study, it allows for the examination of the contribution of repeated exposure to resilience. A mixed methods design that Creswell (2003) terms a concurrent triangulation approach will be employed for this study. The purpose of this approach is to use quantitative and qualitative methods in an attempt to confirm and cross-validate findings within a single study. In the data collection phase, both quantitative and qualitative data was collected in a town, Tung Shih (東勢), in Taiwan. The town was chosen because it suffered the highest fatality rate in The 921 Earthquake. Also, it experiences a high frequency of natural disaster attacks after the disaster. For the quantitative data, the posttraumatic growth inventory (PTGI) - consisting of demographic information and the following factors: a) family and social supports, b) new possibilities, c) personal strength, d) spiritual change, and e) appreciation of life - were distributed and collected. For the qualitative data, in-depth interviews were conducted. Data on roles of the relatives, neighbors, and religious beliefs on recovery from The 921 Earthquake, the impact of the repeated exposure of natural disasters on coping mechanism, and suggestions on better coping with natural disasters, from survivors, volunteers, and service providers, were collected. 

Earl Lee
Assessing Vulnerability and Managing Disruptions to Interdependent
Infrastructure Systems: A Network Flows Approach
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Delaware

Dr. Earl "Rusty" Lee is an Assistant Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and Director of the T2/LTAP Center. He is also a core faculty member of the Disaster Research Center. His research focus is in the area of intelligent transportation systems, mathematical modeling of infrastructure systems and decision support for transportation
applications. He received his bachelor's degree in nuclear engineering from Rensselaer, before joining the Navy's submarine service. His 24 year career, both active duty and reserve, included assignments as Chief Engineer of the nuclear ballistic missile submarine, James K. Polk, staff of the Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic Fleet, and the staffs of the Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Nary Region Northeast, working in the development of emergency response plans and overseeing training exercises. He returned to Rensselaer in the fall of 2000 as a student and was hired by the Institute in August 2001. He has a master's degree in Management and is pursuing a PhD in Decision Science and Engineering Systems.

Dissertation Work 
The motivation for my research was the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, specifically, the study of unpredictable, rapid onset disruptions to interconnected infrastructure systems and their effects. These systems include transportation, electric power, gas and liquid fuels, telecommunications, wastewater facilities and water supplies. Each of these systems has essentially evolved independently. However as technology has advanced, each system has become interconnected to others. This research has developed a formal, mathematical representation of the set of civil infrastructure systems that explicitly incorporates the interdependencies among them. This representation is being implemented in software that enables the resulting model to be exercised. The model provides the capability to understand how a disruptive event affects this interconnected set of systems. The contribution of this research will be an improvement in society's ability to withstand the impact of and respond to events that can disrupt the provision of services that are required for the health, safety and economic well being of the citizenry. Managers of infrastructure systems will be able to assess the vulnerability of their own system due to its reliance on other systems. Organizations responsible for coordinating emergency response efforts will also be able to model different event scenarios and assess their impact across the full set of systems and the services they provide. With this broader perspective of impact, mitigation and preparedness strategies can be formulated and evaluated for their ability to reduce their effects on society.

B.S. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - 1978
M.S. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - 2004
Ph. D. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – 2006

Lori Peek
The Identity of Crisis: Muslim Americans After September 11
Department of Sociology
Colorado State University, Fort Collins

Peek is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis at Colorado State University. She also serves as the Associate Chair for the Social Science Research Council Task Force on Hurricane Katrina and Rebuilding the Gulf Coast. Dr. Peek is an expert in vulnerable populations in disaster, including children, women, persons with disabilities, and ethnic and religious minorities. She is author of the forthcoming book Behind the Backlash: Muslim Americans after 9/11 (Temple University Press, 2010) and co-editor of Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora (University of Texas Press, 2011). Dr. Peek teaches classes on race and ethnic relations, the sociology of disaster, and qualitative research methods. In 2009, she received the Early Career Award for outstanding scholarship from the American Sociological Association Section on Children and Youth. She was named the 2010 Professor of the Year and has received the Best Teacher Award and the Excellence in Teaching in Award at Colorado State University. Dr. Peek earned her Ph.D. in Sociology in 2005 from the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Dissertation Work 
Peek is currently completing her dissertation, titled The Identity of Crisis: Muslim Americans After September 11, which focuses on the experiences of second-generation Muslim Americans following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This work explores how the events and aftermath of September 11 have affected the personal and social identities of this particular group. Drawing on data gathered through participant observation, focus groups, and individual interviews, the goal of the study is to improve social theory regarding identity formation in response to crises while also contributing to our understanding of social vulnerability and the reactions of minority communities to catastrophic events. Moreover, the research explores the social psychological effects of blame and hostility following a human-initiated disaster. Finally, the dissertation presents policy options that could help communities better prepare for and respond to the social consequences of terrorist attacks.

Stephanie Mizrahi
Division of Criminal Justice
California State University

Ms. Mizrahi is a doctoral candidate in Political Science at Washington State University, specializing in the fields of Criminal Justice, Public Law, and Global Security (specifically concentrating on international terrorism). Ms. Mizrahi also hold a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice from Washington State (2001) and a law degree from McGeorge School of Law (1994).Prior to law school, she served as an intelligence analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency, focusing on issues of international terrorism and international narcotics trafficking. Starting in the Fall of 2005, Ms. Mizrahi will be joining the political science faculty at California State University, Chico as an assistant professor. 

Dissertation Work
Ms. Mizrahi's dissertation examines how terrorist incidents affect policy change. Drawing on theories of focusing events, agenda-setting, and policy change, the dissertation covers case studies of five incidents: the 1985 hijacking of Trans Word Airlines flight 847; the 1988 destruction of Pan American flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland; the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center; the 1995 sarin gas attack on the subway in Tokyo, Japan; and the October 2001 anthrax mailings. These incidents represent two separate policy communities within the terrorism policy domain: aviation security and unconventional terrorism. Ms. Mizrahi argues that the terrorism domain consists of multiple policy communities with differing characteristics, and that these characteristics - such as the existence of advocacy coalitions and the extent of polarization among those coalitions - affect the amount and extent of policy change following a terrorist incident. In addition, policy change can be affected by such variables as the location of the incident and the victims involved. These event variables, in turn, interact differently with different policy communities within the terrorism domain.

Elizabeth Scoville
Department of Civil Engineering
Clemson University

Elizabeth Scoville is a PhD candidate in the Civil Engineering Department at Clemson University. She is originally from the Republic of El Salvador in Central America where she obtained her Bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering from the Universidad Centroamericana Jose Simeon Cañas (UCA) in 1998. After graduating, she joined a construction management firm in El Salvador, Roble Group, and worked as a field engineer on several projects including housing developments and shopping centers. In 1999, she received a Fulbright scholarship to do graduate studies in the United States. She obtained her Master’s degree in the area of structural engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VaTech) in 2001. Soon after she joined a structural design firm, Unimast, Inc. in McDonough, Georgia, and worked as a structural engineer on a wide variety of cold-formed steel projects. During the time working with Unimast, she became interested in low-rise buildings and wind loads, which encouraged her to further her knowledge and pursue a PhD degree at Clemson University, a school with an excellent reputation in the areas of wind engineering and performance of low-rise structural systems. She is conducting research on light-frame wood structures under the action of simulated wind loads; she has also had the opportunity to teach graduate and undergraduate level classes and work with modern computer data acquisition systems. She participated in the 2003 International Wind Engineering Conference and her dissertation will be the basis for publications in major engineering journals and conferences. Elizabeth is currently working in the final stage of her research and expects to graduate in August 2005. She will be the first woman from El Salvador to obtain a PhD degree in Civil Engineering.

Dissertation Work
The focus of this research, "The Investigation of the Behavior of Roof-Wall Systems under Combined Shear and Uplift Loads for Low-Rise Wood-Frame Buildings," is on the behavior of roof-wall assemblies for low-rise wood-frame buildings subjected to loads generated by wind storms such as hurricanes and other high wind events. This investigation comprises monotonic and cyclic tests of full-scale roof-wall assemblies under combined uplift and shear loading. The results will be compared to current design methodologies which are based on a single loading mechanism. The analysis of the results will include the development of interaction diagrams for in plane load combinations of the roof-to-wall connections; and the development of a Finite Element Model capable of predicting the behavior of an individual light-frame shear-wall under in-plane loads. Test results will provide important load-displacement data that could be use to calibrate computer models for the analysis of cases that are not feasible in and experimental study. This research will be an important contribution to structural engineering and wind hazard mitigation fields by improving the understanding of combined load response to more accurately predict the behavior of light-frame structures under high wind forces. This knowledge is crucial to enhance the design of these types of structures, to reduce losses and protect lives from hurricanes and other wind events.

Mohan Seetharam
Department of Geography
Clark University

Mohan Seetharam is a PhD candidate at the Graduate School of Geography, Clark University. His research interests include social vulnerability, international development, and agrarian change. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Western Australia. He has previously worked on deforestation, land use change, and associated studies in southern India.

Dissertation Work
Mohan's dissertation research examines changes in social vulnerability in rainfed farming areas of Karnataka, India. These areas are subject to large inter-annual rainfall variability and to overextended soil and water resources. People of these areas are experiencing profound changes under economic restructuring. The study uses a spatial-analytical model to map vulnerability proxies, and aims to uncover the nature of cross-scale interactions between policy drivers, adaptive capacity, and natural resource and human development outcomes.

Danny de Vries
Temporal Vulnerability: Historical Ecologies of Monitoring, Memory, and Meaning in Changing United States Floodplain Landscapes
Department of Anthropology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Danny de Vries, M.A., is a Post-Doctoral fellow at the University of Amsterdam, Department of Sociology and Anthropology. He is working on a project called "Towards a World Labour Market for Health Workers" at the center for Global Health and Inequality and Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labor Studies. This project aims to analyze the globalization of markets for medical products, services, and labour in relation to the emergence of a transnational 'system' of labour relations. As part of this research, he is looking at the global role of human resources for health in disaster preparedness and responsiveness to climatic change. Prior to coming to the United States, Daniel completed his master's thesis in the Netherlands on esthetic landscape evaluation as part of a Dutch governmental policy research initiative on landscape restoration. Daniel has several risk related articles in publication and has presented his work at international conferences.

Dissertation Work
For his dissertation, Danny is researching cultural models of flood risk in historical floodplain communities across the United States. Using ethnographic and archival research methods as well as GIS, he is researching how floodplain residents, scientist, and other stakeholders use historical events and knowledge about the changing landscape in their evaluation of future flood risk. This historical ecological approach to flood risk will provide better understanding of the role of culture, meaning, and experience in risk expectations.