For the past 20 years, the Mary Fran Myers Scholarship has brought emerging leaders in hazards and disasters to the Natural Hazards Workshop. In celebration of this momentous anniversary, 10 award winners have shared their experiences in a short video detailing the impact the award has had on their careers and how they do their work.
“The Mary Fran Myers Scholarship was where it all started for me,” said Barbara Ryan, a researcher in Queensland, Australia, who received the award in 2013. “Suddenly, I wasn’t just a PhD student on the periphery. I was recognized internationally for my potential to really add value to this field.”
The Center, with the support of the broader community, established the scholarship in 2003 to recognize and support outstanding individuals committed to reducing disaster vulnerability. Since then, the scholarship has enabled 52 diverse recipients to attend the annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop, many of whom would not have otherwise been able to afford to attend.
The scholarship covers all or part of expenses related to transportation, lodging, meals, and Workshop registration. As part of their recognition at the Workshop, recipients participate in the poster session or serve as panelists to highlight their research and experience in the field of hazards and disasters.
“People I met at the Workshop were knowledgeable, doing cutting-edge work, and were friendly and eager to help," said 2007 recipient Dr. Yu Xiao, who is now an associate professor at Portland State University. "Then I knew that I had found my community. Receiving the Mary Fran Myers Scholarship to attend the Workshop was definitely a milestone in my career.”
The scholarship is named for Mary Fran Myers, who served as co-director of the Natural Hazards Center for 16 years until her death in 2004. Myers dedicated her life to reducing losses from disasters, and she recognized that many people who could benefit from and contribute to the Workshop—including practitioners, students, and international professionals—were among those least likely to be able to afford the cost. Nevertheless, Myers was committed to bringing new voices and perspectives to the annual Natural Hazards Workshop. After a donation was made in her honor, Myers asked the Center to establish the scholarship to help ensure that individuals of a diverse range of career stages, professions, and communities would be represented at the event.
“The Mary Fran Myers Scholarship changed the course of my career,” said Betty Lai, who received the award in 2014 and is now a co-chair of the scholarship committee. “I met incredible mentors who connected me to resources that I needed in my career to expand new ideas and gain support for the research that I was trying to do.”
The Natural Hazards Center is pleased that it has been able to offer this financial support continuously for 20 years. This scholarship has been made possible thanks to generous donations from many individuals and organizations such as the Association of State Floodplain Managers, which has made a recurring donation for the past two decades. We look forward to many more years of helping disaster professionals attend the Workshop. To contribute to the Mary Fran Myers Scholarship, please visit the Award Fund contribution page.
To watch the video via the Center’s YouTube channel, visit: 20 Year Anniversary of the Mary Fran Myers Scholarship.