Liesel Ritchie studied sociocultural and psychosocial impacts of resource development on the Mikisew Cree First Nation in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, Canada. ©Duane Gill, 2013.

After many productive years at the Natural Hazards Center, associate director Liesel Ritchie will begin a new tenured associate professor position at Oklahoma State University in January. Ritchie played a key role in much of the research produced by the Center over the past decade and she’ll be greatly missed.

“Liesel has contributed so much to the Center and to the broader hazards and disaster community,” said Center Director Lori Peek. “The entire staff is going to miss her presence here, but we are very excited to continue to follow her important research as she transitions to Oklahoma State University.”

Ritchie began her work at the Natural Hazards Center in October 2007 as a research coordinator and over the years has served as assistant director for research at the Center and as an assistant and associate research professor in the University of Colorado Boulder Institute of Behavioral Science. She transitioned to her current role of associate director in March 2015.

Before joining the Natural Hazards Center, Ritchie studied a range of disaster events, including the Exxon Valdez oil spill and Hurricane Katrina. Since, she has done work related to the BP Deepwater Horizon event, the Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash release, and earthquakes in Haiti and New Zealand. Her recent focus has been the social impacts of disasters and community resilience, with an emphasis on technological disasters, social capital, and renewable resource communities, and she has published widely on these topics.

“The OSU Sociology Department is excited to have such a distinguished researcher as Liesel join the faculty,” said Duane Gill, Director of OSU’s Center for the Study of Disasters and Extreme Events (CSDES). “We are looking forward to opportunities for her to collaborate with faculty, and to mentor graduate and undergraduate students. Moreover, the CSDES will benefit from her leadership and expertise.”

Ritchie will serve as associate director of CSDES and will teach courses in evaluation and disasters as an associate professor of sociology at OSU. She will also continue to participate as an expert member on nationally recognized panels for the National Academies, where she is a Koshland Public Engagement Program advisory board member and on the Gulf Research Program Strategic Advisory Board; and for the National Institute of Science and Technology where she sits on the Committee for Measuring Community Resilience.

Ritchie expressed sadness at ending her association at the Center, where she worked closely with past director Kathleen Tierney, helped Peek transition in as the new director, and played a substantial role in guiding and mentoring the Center’s graduate research assistants. But, like the Center staff, she is also excited about the new promises ahead of her.

“After more than a decade at the Natural Hazards Center, I am honored and excited to have these new opportunities at Oklahoma State University,” Ritchie said. “I am looking forward to new challenges ahead.”