Dissertation Fellowships in Hazards, Risk, and Disasters
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2007/8 Fellows

We are extremely pleased to present the 2007/8 PERISHIP Fellows in Hazards, Risk, and Disasters!!

Bethany Brown
"Organizational Response and Recovery of Domestic Violence Shelters in the Aftermath of Disaster"
Department of Sociology
University of Delaware

Bethany Brown is currently a Ph.D. student in Sociology at the University of Delaware. She received her MA from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in Applied Sociology. After taking a year to teach full time at her alma mater McDaniel College, she entered the Ph.D. program at University of Delaware. Bethany joined the DRC in January 2006 as a research assistant to conduct immediate fieldwork in New Orleans. Brown is currently a lead graduate researcher on an NSF funded grant "DRU: Contending with Material Convergence: Optimal Control, Coordination, and Delivery of Critical Supplies to the Site of Extreme Events" in which DRC is collaborating with civil engineers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in an examination of the characteristics of the supply chain following Hurricane Katrina. She supervises undergraduate researchers working on this project and also served as a graduate mentor to a student participating in the Disaster Research Center's NSF Research Experience for Undergraduate Site Program. Her teaching and research interests include gender, disaster, social vulnerability, community sociology, domestic violence and social theory.

Dissertation Work
On August 29th, 2005, Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast of the United States. Among the countless victims of the storm were community-based social service organizations serving at-risk populations. Sharing a mission to help vulnerable groups, these organizations compete for scarce resources to sustain services. With a shortage of resources in the area, then, some organizations were better able to survive – or, continue offering services – while others were not. With an emphasis on the impact and activities of domestic violence shelters in Louisiana, this dissertation will explore: 1) how organizations that support at-risk populations work to continue with their organizational mission while contending with a community-wide disaster event and 2) what are the factors internal and external to the organization that led to different recovery outcomes. Three shelters are included in this study, each representing a disparate recovery trajectory. The outcome of this study will be an exploratory framework for how and why at-risk organizations may choose alternative paths in the wake of a disastrous event.

Divya Chandrasekhar, Ph. D, Assistant Professor
"Understanding Stakeholder Participation in Post-Disaster Recovery"
Urban Planning and Environmental Policy
Texas Southern University

Divya Chandrasekhar is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy of the School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University. She earned her Ph.D. in Regional Planning in 2010 and a Masters Degree in Urban Planning in 2005 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Chandrasekhar's research focus is on the developmental aspects of long-term post-disaster recovery and as well as other forms of environmental change. In the past, she has worked on a number of disaster research projects funded by the Mid-America Earthquake Center and the National Science Foundation, ranging from spatial mapping of multi-hazard risk to participatory planning for post-disaster recovery and plan-making after disasters. Her most current research examines the impact of post-disaster mass displacement on the planning and development of cities that host the displaced.

Dissertation Work
Divya's PhD dissertation focuses on the experiences and involvement of different stakeholder groups in the post-disaster recovery process of three villages in south India that were affected in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. To explore the contextual limitations of the findings in India, it also includes a shorter study of one 2005 Hurricane Katrina-affected neighborhood in the City of New Orleans. Using the data collected through informant interview, participation-observation and accounts from secondary sources, the study addresses questions such as: what are the factors that influence the level and manner of stakeholder participation in post- disaster recovery planning; what roles do stakeholder power, trust, legitimacy and sense of urgency of action play; how do stakeholders negotiate their participation based on these factors and what implications does this negotiation have for the planning process; and, what are the strategies and policies that future recovery planning managers may develop, adopt or implement in order to facilitate stakeholder participation?

Khanin Hutanuwatr
Department of Urban and Regional Planning
Arizona State University

Khanin Hutanuwatr is the Ph.D. Candidate in Environmental Design and Planning at Arizona State University. He has also been a lecturer at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology, Ladkrabang, Thailand. Interdisciplinarily oriented, he has background in industrial design (B.ID. from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand) and interior architectural research (M.Arch from King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang Thailand). He started his design practice in environmental-friendly and vernacular-based design, and later focused on energy efficiency building research. The tragedy of 2004-Tsunami in South East Asia urged him to broaden his interest to natural hazards. He currently embraces political ecology point of view, and extends his research interest from sustainability to social vulnerability and resilience.

Dissertation Work
The focus of his dissertation study is on the dynamics of social vulnerability during the post-disaster phase. The 2004-South East Asian Tsunami resulted in great impacts to Thailand. Three years after the tsunami, difficulties in recovery and reconstruction persist in many impacted areas and the distribution of adverse consequences seems uneven. Complex interactions between local, impacted communities and recovery efforts intensify the vulnerability dynamics. Through the lens of naturalistic inquiries, this dissertation explores complex social processes that potentially influence the capacity to recover. It focuses on social processes related to (1) rapid policy changes after disasters that may amplify social vulnerability during the recovery phase, (2) the role of participation in recovery efforts, and (3) the contribution of social capital in recovery outcome. The understanding from such exploration would provide basis for analytical discussion on ways to assess context-based social vulnerability, and yield insights for policy guidance for vulnerability reduction and recovery planning. Two impacted communities in Thailand have been selected for case studies. Data collection methods are based on qualitative approach including in-depth interviews with various stakeholders, field observations, and document examinations. The results of this study are hoped to provide better understanding of the complex processes related to vulnerability, leading to the greater discussion on measurement issues and vulnerability reduction.


With additional Swiss Re Sponsorship:

Dawn Kotowicz
"Building Resilience to Coastal Disasters: an Assessment of Social Resilience During Recovery After the Indian Oscean Tsunami in Thailand"
Department of Marine Affairs
University of Rhode Island

Dawn Kotowicz successfully defended her dissertation last December and was granted her degree (PhD in Marine Affairs) from the University of Rhode Island in May 2010.. Currently, she is contributing to the Climate Change Chapter of the Ocean Special Area Management Plan for an offshore area of Rhode Island. This management plan is being prepared in anticipation of a proposed offshore wind farm in Rhode Island's waters. Her research focus is community resilience to natural hazards. She holds a Bachelors' Degree in Environmental Science from Barnard College, Columbia University and a Masters' Degree also in Marine Affairs at the University of Rhode Island. Prior to her graduate studies she was a US Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines where she did natural resource management and environmental legal assistance in indigenous communities with a Pilipino NGO.

Dissertation Work
Dawn's dissertation research explores how the concept of resilience is changing recovery efforts in coastal communities. In 2005, the World Conference on Disaster Reduction advocated promoting resilience in recovery efforts. Rebuilding communities by reducing vulnerabilities and risks to future hazards can promote resilience in the face of future natural disasters and is an improvement upon the idea of recovery to the status quo. This research focuses on five fishing villages in Ranong, Thailand that were severely impacted by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and the practical implementation of rebuilding communities for resilient futures.

Lezlie Morinière
Interdiscplinary Program
University of Arizona

After 15-years working in Africa/Indian Ocean, Lezlie Morinière is an Interdisciplinary Doctoral Candidate at the Office of Arid Lands Studies (Minor in Global Change), University of Arizona. Her prior academic degrees were in Epidemiology / Biostatistics and Romance Languages. With a seasoned career in Disaster Risk Management, Ms. Morinière now applies Disaster Risk Science focusing on climate-induced migration within the realm of an ever-changing environment. Working as an international consultant with the United Nations, NGOs and bilateral and national organizations, she has contributed to the prevention or response efforts of both natural hazards (tsunami, cyclones, floods, drought, locust, and cholera) and complex emergencies (Darfur, DRC, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire/Mali). She has taught Disaster Risk Science (Andrews and Bahir Dar Universities Masters Programs) and has published on Needs Assessment in humanitarian response. Ms. Morinière’s extensive field exposure keeps her feet firmly planted in reality, harmonizing theory and policy.

Dissertation Work
For her doctoral dissertation, Ms. Morinière will combine natural and social sciences to construct one of the world’s first databases on climate-driven migration. She will draw on her studies in arid lands, global change, climatology, anthropology and geography to compile and align three sets of variables across space (gridded global when possible) and time (up to two hundred years before present): a climate extremes index, a disaster event index, and the best available estimate of migration. It is her hope that systematically tracking the footprint of environmental migrants will build the foundation upon which to lobby for more secure homelands for the world’s most marginalized communities.

She completed her dissertation/defense and presented it at the joint GLP/UGEC Conference in Phoenix (October 2010). She continues to work as a consultant for the United Nations on Disaster Risk Science and Mgmt and teach at a Masters program in Disaster Risk Science in Bahir Dar University (Ethiopia).