Dissertation Fellowships in Hazards, Risk, and Disasters
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2010 Fellows

We are extremely pleased to present the 2011 PERISHIP Fellows in Hazards, Risk, and Disasters!!

Christian S. Chan
"Measuring exposure in natural disaster: A meta-analysis and a multi-wave longitudinal study"
Department of Psychology
University of Massachusetts Boston

Christian Chan is a PhD candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston and an intern in clinical psychology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He received his BA from McGill University and was a research fellow at Kobe University, Japan. His research and clinical interests pertain to natural disaster and mental health, and he has done work in post-disaster New Orleans and Sichuan.

Dissertation Work
Christian's dissertation concerns the operationalization of exposure severity in natural disaster studies. The goals are to advance the understanding of the impact of natural disaster on mental health and to help develop an empirically-based method of measuring exposure severity. In particular, he is conducting a meta-analysis with both aggregated and individual data to evaluate the impact of potentially traumatizing experiences on mental health. The results of the meta-analysis will then be validated with a four-wave prospective study of Hurricane Katrina survivors.

Albert J. Faas
"Reciprocity and Political Power in Disaster-Induced Resettlements in Andean Ecuador"
Department of Anthropology
University of South Florida

AJ Faas is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida. AJ is currently completing fieldwork for his dissertation, which examines the tensions between cooperative, mutual support practices and unequal power relations in disaster-induced resettlement communities in the Andean highlands of Ecuador. Prior to his dissertation research, AJ gained extensive experience designing surveys and interviews, conducting fieldwork that included ethnographic interviewing, surveys, and participant observation, and managing and analyzing the data for two NSF-funded research projects investigating social networks and wellbeing in areas of chronic disasters and disaster-induced resettlements in both Mexico and Ecuador. AJ has presented papers based on this work at the annual meetings of the Society for Applied Anthropology and the Society for Economic Anthropology. AJ is the author of two forthcoming manuscripts, one dealing with the critical aspects of social networks in a resettlement setting and the other assessing perceptions of volcano hazard in Ecuador. In addition to the PERISHIP Fellowship in Hazards, Risk, and Disaster, AJ is also the recipient of a NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant for 2011-2012. AJ received his B.A. in Anthropology and his M.A. in Practical Anthropology from Montclair State University.

Dissertation Work
The goal of the proposed study is to examine how reciprocity, collective action, and local power structures change in the processes of disaster, displacement and resettlement and how informal exchange relationships are linked to survival in these contexts. Research will examine the tension between cooperative, mutual support practices and unequal power relations in communal labor groups (mingas) of two disaster-induced resettlement communities in highland Ecuador, as this dynamic might affect resettled individuals' access to disaster relief and development resources. Several anthropologists have studied the patterned, asymmetrical reciprocity and class power and identity bound up in minga exchanges and relations. A core problem addressed by the proposed research is that none have examined the role of mingas and associated reciprocity in disaster mitigation or resettlement. Employing a mixed method approach that includes participant observation, ethnographic interviews, and social network analysis, this research project explores the following questions: • To what extent are cultural practices of reciprocity eroded in the disaster and resettlement process? • To what extent are cultural practices of reciprocity leveraged to exert influence over the distribution of resources in the disaster and resettlement process?

Michelle A. M. Lueck
"Community Disaster Resilience: The Role of Collective Efficacy and Social Capital"
Department of Sociology and Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis
Colorado State University

Michelle Meyer Lueck is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at Colorado State University (CSU). She earned her B.A. in Sociology from Murray State University in Murray, KY and her M.A. in Sociology from CSU. She is a research assistant at the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis at CSU and also a research assistant on a National Science Foundation and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-funded project on hurricane risk perception along the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. Her research interests include disaster resilience and mitigation; climate change-induced population displacement; environmental sociology and community sustainability; and the interplay between environmental conditions and social vulnerability. Michelle has worked on various research projects focusing on a variety of topics including disaster risk perception, organizational energy conservation, volunteer training program evaluation, evaluation of disaster response plans for individuals with disabilities, and environmental attitudes and behaviors. Her teaching interests include research methods and statistics, sociology of disaster, environmental sociology, social stratification, and community sociology.

Dissertation Work
Michelle's dissertation research focuses on the relationship between individual and community resilience and social vulnerability in hurricane-prone communities in the United States. In a mixed methods study, she will combine longitudinal survey data of Gulf and Atlantic Coast residents with in-depth qualitative case studies of two Florida communities to understand collective efficacy and social capital as aspects of community disaster resilience. Her dissertation addresses the following questions: 1) How do social capital and collective efficacy affect community disaster resilience, and what indicators of these two concepts are useful in disaster contexts? 2) How do collective efficacy and social capital affect the resilience of socially vulnerable populations? Through in-person interviews with individuals and organizations and social network mapping of social capital resources available during a disaster, this project contributes to the growing focus on resilience as an organizing concept in disaster planning and response while incorporating vulnerable individuals to understand the connection between vulnerability and resilience. This work will help illuminate how communities may address social vulnerability to disasters through social capital and collective efficacy initiatives. This qualitative work will support an ongoing longitudinal panel survey of coastal residents in an effort to develop quantitative measures of social capital and community efficacy as they relate to disaster resilience.

Ward Lyles
"Stakeholder Network Influences on Hazard Mitigation Planning Outputs"
Department of City and Regional Planning
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Royster Fellow

Ward Lyles is a doctoral candidate in City and Regional Planning and a member of the Royster Society of Fellows at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ward grew up in Durham, North Carolina and received his undergraduate degree from Middlebury College, where he majored in geology and had the opportunity to study abroad in Antarctica. He obtained his masters degree in land resources from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, completing a thesis on the regulation of billboards. After five years working on transportation reform issues for the land use planning and environmental organization 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, Ward returned to North Carolina with his family to pursue his doctoral studies. His desire to combine his evolving interests in environmental science, social science, and applied policy and practice led him focus his research within land use and environmental planning on natural hazards and climate change adaptation.

Dissertation Work
Ward's dissertation seeks to add to the current understanding of factors driving the development, adoption, and implementation of hazard mitigation plans that increase community resilience through planning outputs. His research questions center on the influence of the networks of stakeholders involved in the planning processes on the incorporation of sustainable land use and development management policies and program into mitigation plans. Particular attention is paid to if and how variation in the integration of local planners into these networks explains stronger land use-oriented planning outputs. His dissertation draws on three main bodies of literature: 1) theories of public policy processes, 2) frameworks for defining and explaining the quality of plans, and 3) social network analysis. Data collection methods include content analysis of hazard mitigation plans, web-based surveys of hazard mitigation stakeholders, and subsequent in-person interviews with key stakeholders. He takes a mixed-method analytical approach, including descriptive statistics and visualization of stakeholder networks, regression models, and comparative case studies. Ward hopes his findings will enhance efforts to eliminate or substantially reduce hazard risks, including those due to climate change, by directing development to safer locations.

Julie Koppel Maldonado
"Facing Environmental Change and Displacement: Local Experiences in the Louisiana Bayou"
Department of Anthropology
American University

Julie Maldonado is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at American University in Washington, DC. Prior to graduate school, Julie developed an interest in communities affected by development and displacement through working with the Ogoni community in South and West Africa. During her graduate studies, Julie focused on the topic of development and displacement both theoretically and professionally, working for a leading resettlement practitioner and working on a World Bank project evaluating displacement. She directed this experience to include a focus on climate change, working with the US National Climate Assessment and the UN's Global Gender and Climate Alliance. She received her B.A. in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, and her M.A. in anthropology from American University, completing her thesis on problems with compensation use in development-forced displacement and resettlement. Her experiences led her into the combined interest of displacement, climate change and development.

Dissertation Work
Julie's dissertation research focuses on communities in Southern Louisiana's bayous that are facing coastal degradation, land loss, flooding, and sea-level rise due to development projects, disasters, and, increasingly, climate change. Her research examines how environmental change caused by these interacting forces affects human movement. She will use ethnographic research methods to specifically explore how people experience and respond to potential displacement, including perceptions about resisting displacement versus relocation, and the ways people adapt, and are resilient, to environmental change. This research is especially salient as people living in coastal and low-lying areas increasingly face the possibilities of displacement from sea-level rise, flooding, and coastal erosion. The goal is to communicate about how people can most effectively be supported in their decisions to either stay in place or relocate.

Trevor Maynard
"The Effect of Spot Fire Ignition Spacing on Prescribed and Wildland Fire Behavior"
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Bourns College of Engineering, University of California

Trevor Maynard is a PhD candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Riverside. He received his BS degree in Engineering Technology from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in 2007. A native of Southern California, he first became interested in wildland fire after witnessing the local devastation caused by summer firestorms. His interest in fire behavior stemmed from his involvement in the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) wildland fire emissions project, which focused on the air quality effects of prescribed fires. His current interests are focused on the application of fundamental fire physics to the development of effective wildland fire suppression and fire use tactics.

Dissertation Work
The rapid growth of communities near wilderness boundaries, known as the wildland-urban interface (WUI), has required significant changes to wildland fire policy in recent decades. Paradoxically, the aggressive fire suppression tactics necessary to protect life and property within the WUI have led to an unnatural accumulation of fuels, which has led to even more destructive firestorms. To prevent this, the deliberate burning of vegetation (prescribed fire) has become part of the WUI defense strategy. The success of these burns hinges largely on firefighter skill, with little scientific background to support current techniques. The practice of setting multiple ignition points, known as "spot-firing", is of special concern, as the merging of multiple flame fronts has been observed to result in significant changes in fire behavior. The development of an "ideal pattern" of ignition points is critical to the safety and effectiveness of prescribed burns.

Trevor's research hopes to identify the fundamental relationships between fire physics, ignition technique, and environmental factors which contribute to the overall behavior of prescribed fire. By combining theoretical and computational models with laboratory and field experiments, this research aims to develop basic guidelines for ignition techniques which can be employed by wildland fire managers.

Lauren Patterson
"Interconnections between Drought and Water Polity in the South Atlantic, USA"
Department of Geography
University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill

Lauren Patterson is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Lauren received a BS in geology from Purdue University and a MA from UNC-Chapel Hill examining the effects of flood policy on the location of development inside and adjacent to the 100-year floodplain from 1990 to 2000. Lauren has also had the opportunity to work with local governments through the Environmental Finance Center to address sustainable financing strategies for watershed protection. She has learned that relationships and financing strategies are both crucial components needed to effectively implement research findings into public policy.

Dissertation Work
Lauren's dissertation focuses on examining drivers of water scarcity in the South Atlantic and exploring potential solutions from an infrastructure and policy standpoint. Her research interests were fueled by the tensions between residents and politicians, as well as between water conservation and economic development during a recent severe drought. This research seeks to first examine whether surface water supply is changing and what is driving the change. Second, can water supply security be enhanced through interconnections and how successful have interconnections been at redistributing water during a drought? Third, do current water policies help, hinder, or address the drivers of water scarcity from a supply and demand standpoint? Water scarcity is a growing issue in the South Atlantic and it is an exciting time to contribute research for policy formation and implementation.