Dissertation Fellowships in Hazards, Risk, and Disasters
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2008/9 Fellows

We are extremely pleased to present the 2008/9 PERISHIP Fellows in Hazards, Risk, and Disasters!!

James Jeffers
"Confronting Climate Impacts: Local decision-making, adaptation and vulnerability to climate change in Ireland's coastal cities"
Department of Geography
Rutgers University u

James Jeffers is a PhD candidate in Geography at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He received his BA in geography and legal science from the National University of Ireland, Galway in 2004. He also completed LL.B. (Bachelor of Laws) and LL.M. (Master of Laws) degrees at the same institution before moving to Rutgers to begin his PhD. During his undergraduate studies Jim developed a strong interest in the study of natural hazards and completed an undergraduate dissertation examining coastal erosion at sites on Ireland’s north-west coast. During his graduate studies in law he developed an interest in public policy and legal decision-making, focusing his masters thesis on judicial decision-making in the field of planning law. His PhD research on adaptation to coastal hazards combines his interests in hazards, decision-making and public policy.

Dissertation Work
Jim’s dissertation research focuses on the complex relationships between humans and processes of environmental change particularly in the coastal zone. The overall goal of his research is to advance our understanding of how the dissemination, interpretation and use of scientific knowledge in community decision-making may influence adaptation to the local impacts of climate change and natural hazards. In particular it focuses on evaluating how hazards such as sea level rise are conceptualized by local decision-makers in Ireland’s coastal cities, and the ways in which this influences their adaptation decisions.

Megan Reid
"Shelter and Housing Issues Faced by Hurricane Katrina Evacuees"
Department of Sociology
University of Texas at Austin

Megan Reid is a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Sociology, currently completing her dissertation on the topic of race, gender, and post-Hurricane Katrina policies.  She was an interviewer, data manager, and code developer for the NSF-sponsored project on which her dissertation is based.  She has presented work on this project at conferences sponsored by the National Poverty Center, the Yale School of Architecture, and the American Sociological Association, among others.  Megan is the author of several forthcoming pieces, including a book chapter about mothers and displacement due to Hurricane Katrina, and has been published in Intersections: Women’s and Gender Studies in Review Across Disciplines.  Her body of work focuses on gender, race, class, and social policies.  In addition to the PERISHIP Fellowship in Hazards, Risk, and Disaster, she holds two fellowships for the 2009 – 2010 year: the Harry M. and Bernice E. Moore Fellowship, presented by the Hogg Foundation, and the University of Texas Women’s and Gender Studies Dissertation Fellowship.  She received her B.A. from Rutgers University, and her M.A. in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin.

Dissertation Work
For her dissertation work, Reid is researching federal disaster relief policies and the hardships those policies created for hurricane survivors, especially displaced poor minority families. Her work is based on two years of interviews with Hurricane Katrina survivors who evacuated to Austin in 2005. Specifically, she explores the experiences survivors had obtaining and using post-displacement housing assistance and the effects of these experiences on the survivors’ abilities to recover, through analyzing in-depth interviews with survivors.  Preliminary findings indicate that many aspects of these policies did not consider the race, class, and gender positionalities of those in need of assistance.  She hopes her dissertation will lead to better understanding of how state and social policies can both resist and reinforce inequalities, and also lay the groundwork for more effective social policies to help disadvantaged groups both during natural disasters and in everyday life.

Bahadir Sahin
"Factors Influencing Effectiveness of Interorganizational Networks Among Crisis Management Organizations: A Comparative Perspective"
Department of Public Administration
University of Central Florida

Bahadir Sahin, Ph.D. is currently employed by Turkish National Police and he serves in Istanbul Police Department as a captain. He got the Ph.D. degree in 2009 from the Public Affairs Department at the University of Central Florida. He received his MA degree from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of CUNY. He served as a first responder law enforcement supervisor in one of the busiest cities of Europe, Istanbul when he had a special interest for effective crisis management policies. His is interested in networks, complex adaptive systems, crisis management, and geographical information systems.

Dissertation Work
Bahadir's dissertation hypothesized that public administration structures of countries, adaptive capability of organizations, and quality of informal relationships within them positively affect the effectiveness of crisis management networks. The study employed three methodological approaches. Multiple case study analysis was the first method. Four terrorist attacks took ed place in New York in 2001, in Istanbul in 2003, in Madrid in 2004, and in London in 2005 were examined to be representative of crisis management efforts. Second level utilized UCINET-Social Network Analysis to find the most interacting agencies in examined crisis management networks. A particular number of employees of the agencies that had the highest centrality scores in crisis management networks were surveyed in the final level. Surveys formed a dataset which then processed in an SEM model. The results of the study showed that intra-organizational training, being open to organizational changes and high-quality-informal relationships among crisis management personnel before crisis situations significantly increased the interorganitional crisis management efforts.

With additional Swiss Re Sponsorship:

Kanako Iuchi
"Redefining A Place To Live: Decisions, Planning Processes, And Outcomes Of Resettlement After Disasters "
Department of Urban & Regional Planning
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Kanako Iuchi is a PhD Candidate in Department of Urban and Regional Planning at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She is a graduate of University of Tsukuba, Japan, and Cornell University, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science (Urban and Regional Planning major) and a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning, respectively.  Prior to her graduate studies, she spent 10 years as an international development planner participating in disaster management projects sponsored by multi- and bi-lateral agencies.  This experience exposed her to direct interactions with politicians, government officials, and people of different localities, making her realize a discrepancy between the goal and reality of disaster planning.  Her interest in understanding planning and its influence to increased resiliency of community emerged from practical work in the field.

Dissertation Work
Kanako’s research intends to understand key planning decisions and processes that would lead to better resettlement of the disaster-affected communities in the declining rural areas.  To do so, she targets Nijumurago area in Chuetsu region of Niigata, Japan, where communities are depopulating and still experiencing the effects of a devastating earthquake that occurred in October 2004.  The most severely affected two districts, which were formerly governed as one for having identical culture, society, and economy, are currently administered by different cities; as a consequence, the districts were provided with different resettlements – one was to repopulate and the other was to relocate.  This research will employ a comparative case study method, observing four village communities for in-depth study to examine the better ways by planners and policy makers to support disaster-affected communities in their post-disaster resettlement.

Andrew Rumbach
"Urban Disasters in Developing Cities: A Case Study of Koldata, West Bengal, India"
Department of City & Regional Planning
Cornell University

Andrew Rumbach is a doctoral candidate in City and Regional Planning at Cornell University.  Rumbach grew up in southern Indiana and received his undergraduate degree from Reed College in Portland, Oregon.  He joined the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell in 2005 and earned a Masters in Regional Planning in 2007.  His masters research focused on recovery planning in New Orleans following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, an experience that led him to pursue a career in hazards planning, with an emphasis on reducing disaster vulnerability in urban areas. 

Dissertation Work
India’s size and location make it one of the most risk-prone countries in the world. Rumbach's dissertation will examine the relationship between urbanization and disaster vulnerability in Kolkata, West Bengal. Using mixed methods research design that includes archival materials, household surveys, interviews, and satellite imagery, he will focus on the relationship between Kolkata’s past growth and the geography of vulnerability in the city today.  He will pay particular attention to the role that planning has played in the distribution of flood vulnerability in the city, and on the relationship between formal and informal growth.  He hopes that his research will help inform future development plans for Indian coastal cities that are at-risk from natural hazards and the effects of global climate change and help planners better anticipate and respond to the needs of vulnerable communities.