Dissertation Fellowships in Hazards, Risk, and Disasters
line decor
line decor
2010 Fellows

We are extremely pleased to present the 2010 PERISHIP Fellows in Hazards, Risk, and Disasters!!

Ryan Alaniz
"A Tale of Three Cities: Long-term Development in Post-Disaster Honduras"
Department of Sociology
University of Minnesota

Ryan Alaniz is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Minnesota in the department of sociology. Having recently completed a nine month investigation of the long-term recovery and development of seven post-disaster new Honduran communities(supported by Fulbright and the Social Science Research Council), Ryan looks forward to returning in the summer of 2011 with the support of the PERISHIP to evaluate how these communities have changed over time. His work is focused on bridging the ivory tower of academia with the dirt roads of post-disaster locales; indeed, his efforts have utilized sociological theory to implement creative projects with the goal of self-sustaining community development.

Dissertation Work
Alaniz's dissertation addresses theoretical debates about how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should respond with long-term development strategies in post-disaster communities. Such debates are particularly important given the increasing role of NGOs in development and enduring questions concerning bases of effective community development. The dissertation is a comparative case study of two Honduran communities destroyed by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and rebuilt by two different NGOs (the Red Cross of Honduras and Fundacion Cristo de El Picacho) in subsequent years. His doctoral research combines field surveys, interviews, ethnography, and archival research in an analysis of the internal and external processes involved in building and developing these two communities eleven years after the hurricane. Preliminary findings suggest that selection process and initial community culture play a major role in the long-term social health of a community. Ryan hopes his work will offer disaster and development practitioners a greater understanding of new community development to address the increasing forced relocation of disaster survivors.

Daina Harvey
"Moving on From Hurricane Katrina"
Department of Sociology
Rutgers University

Daina Cheyenne Harvey is a PhD candidate in Sociology at Rutgers. His work focuses on the intersections of culture and cognition, social disruption, racial inequality and marginality, uncertainty and risk, cities, decision making, and social problems and policy. His recent publications include a chapter in What is a City? Rethinking the Urban after Hurricane Katrina (Steinberg and Shields, 2008). In addition to the PERISHIP Fellowship in Hazards, Risk, and Disaster, his dissertation research is funded by a generous grant from the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy. He received a B.B.A (Finance) and a B.A. (Philosophy and Economics) from the University of Texas at Austin and a M.A. in Sociology from the University of Houston.

Dissertation Work
For his dissertation, Daina is undertaking a comparative analysis of how evacuees from Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans have moved on since 2005. He is looking at the experiences of residents who returned to the Ninth Ward and those who left the Ninth for Houston or Atlanta. The major question his study addresses is how do people move on from major collective events. In particular, he is interested in the cultural and cognitive tools people use to form long term strategies of action after major acts of social disruption. In examining how former evacuees have moved on from Hurricane Katrina, he provides a detailed analysis of how culture both enables and constrains. His dissertation will also focus on the lived experience of suffering and uncertainty, including what people do with suffering and uncertainty and what suffering and uncertainty does to people. Daina's work provides a cultural perspective on disasters which will help us to understand the strategies of action that groups take after experiencing a disaster, strategies that thus far have been understudied.

Owen Kulemeka
"Disasters, individuals with disabilities, and the transportation disadvantaged:A study of preparedness programs in post-disaster"
College of Media
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Owen Kulemeka is a PhD Candidate in Communications (public relations focus) in the College of Media at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. He also has a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Communication (public relations focus), both from the University of Maryland. Prior to his PhD studies, he spent several years working in public relations positions at US Airways, Amnesty International, the American Insurance Association, the United Nations, the O.E.C.D, Weber Shandwick, and Kearney & Company. After volunteering for UNICEF's pr department in post-Tsunami Indonesia, Owen became interested in the role public relations campaigns play in preparing people for disasters. His research examines how government agencies and non-profit organizations communicate disaster preparedness, response, and recovery information to vulnerable groups. In 2009, he was awarded a research fellowship by the Institute for Public Relations.

Dissertation Work
Owen's dissertation is examining public relations campaigns that seek to prepare individuals with disabilities, the transportation disadvantaged, and other vulnerable populations for disaster. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and 2004 Asian tsunami, a great deal of money has been invested on public relations campaigns that seek to enhance preparedness among vulnerable groups. Few studies have examined whether these campaigns are actually effective in enhancing preparedness. Through interviews with those carrying out the campaigns and those targeted by the campaigns, Owen seeks to identify the characteristics of effective and ineffective preparedness pr campaigns. He hopes that his research can assist those whose job is to communicate preparedness information to vulnerable groups.

Sizheng Li
"Modeling Post-Earthquake Fire Spread and Suppression"
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Delaware

Sizheng Li received his Master's degree in Beijing University of Technology where his research concerned damage detection of engineering structures by using Artificial Neural Network and Genetic Algorithms. He would like to expand his vision in civil engineering and face more intellectual challenges. Furthermore, he does not only want to see the world in the engineering perspective, but also consider the influences of economic and social issues, so he decides to study more interdisciplinary areas. Sizheng is currently working toward his Ph.D. specializing in Civil Infrastructure System. He is advised by Professor Rachel Davidson. Sizheng's current research interest is the suppression of fire following earthquakes in urban areas which have many wood frame buildings. His research is interdisciplinary and involves simulation, numeric modeling, GIS risk analysis, decision making and field investigation in municipal departments and utility companies. His work is to grab the whole picture of the civil infrastructure system under the threat of fire following earthquakes and find disciplines from great uncertainty and huge data resources. He studies how the damaged water supply system and limited fire suppression resources interactively affect the fire spreading in large urban areas after the earthquake.

Dissertation Work
Following an earthquake, many fires occur simultaneously, and at the same time that water supply, communications, and transportation are impaired. The result can be conflagrations that dominate the losses, as in the 1995 Kobe, Japan earthquake. Sizheng's dissertation research focuses on developing the next generation urban post-earthquake fire ignition-spread-suppression simulation model for use in (1) estimating likelihood, location, and rate of fire spread, and (2) understanding the factors that determine how fire can spread through a city.



Kristin O'Donovan, North Carolina State University, Department of Public & International Affairs, ‘Variation in Flood Mitigation Plans and Effects of Experience in Alteration'

Christopher Uejio, University of Wisconsin-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, ‘Environmental Influences on Neglected Public Health Problems'