Kathleen Tierney

Emerita Director

University of Colorado Boulder

Contact Info

Kathleen Tierney has served as the director of the Natural Hazards Center from 2003 until 2016. During her career she has studied a wide range of disasters, including earthquakes in the U. S., Japan, and Haiti; major hurricanes such as Hugo, Andrew, and Katrina; various technological disasters, and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in New York City. Her published work spans many topics, including hazard risk perceptions, disaster warnings, organizational responses to disasters, disaster recovery, social vulnerability to disasters, and the political economy of disasters. Her publications have appeared in the Annual Review of Sociology, International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Sociological Forum, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, Journal of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, American Prospect, and many others. She is the senior author of Facing the Unexpected: Emergency Preparedness and Response in the United States and co-editor of Emergency Management: Principles and Practice for Local Government. She is currently completing a book entitled Social Foundations of Risk and Resilience.

Tierney has served as a member of the National Academies Committee on Disaster Research in the Social Sciences, the Panel on Strategies and Methods for Climate-Related Decision Support, and the Panel on Informing Effective Decisions and Actions Related to Climate Change. She is currently a member of the National Academies Committee to Advise the U. S. Global Change Research Program. She serves on the steering committee of the American Sociological Association’s Task Force on Climate Change and on the board of directors of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, and she is co-editor of the Natural Hazards Review. Tierney received the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute’s Distinguished Lecturer Award in 2006 and the Fred Buttel Award for Distinguished Contributions from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Environment, Technology, and Society in 2012.