Research Projects

The research activities of the Natural Hazards Center focus on the social, behavioral, socioeconomic, mental health, and other societal aspects of hazards and disasters, using quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods approaches. Current and recently-completed projects involve research with a range of population groups, including potentially vulnerable groups such as children, elderly persons, and low-income populations. Studies explore topics throughout the hazards cycle, from mitigation and preparedness to response and recovery. Various types of hazards are addressed in the Center’s research portfolio, ranging from earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes to toxic hazards and technological disasters. Research activities span urban and rural areas in the U.S. and other countries. Studies frequently involve collaborations with researchers from engineering and natural science disciplines.

The Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder is a national and increasingly global clearinghouse that collects and disseminates research findings and other information on the societal dimensions of hazards, disasters, and risk.

The CONVERGE Facility establishes and supports a new Extreme Events Reconnaissance Research Leadership Corps that connects researchers from different disciplines, develops best practice guidelines for reconnaissance research, and supports public communications in the event of a major disaster.

This project establishes a scientific platform and coordinating network for Social Science Extreme Events Research (SSEER) and a second platform and network for Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Extreme Events Research (ISEEER). SSEER and ISEEER will draw upon insights from the science of team science (SciTS) and leverage databases and information resources available at the University of Colorado Boulder Natural Hazards Center to increase the capacity of the social science, engineering, and interdisciplinary hazards and disaster research communities. The ultimate vision for the work is to prepare individual researchers and teams to carry out extreme events rapid reconnaissance research that is coordinated, comprehensive, coherent, ethical, and scientifically rigorous.

There have been many advances in disciplinary-specific quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches for disaster research, yet interdisciplinary methods in the field have not been sufficiently inventoried or studied. In light of this gap in knowledge, this workshop series brought together leading interdisciplinary researchers to advance the science and practice of interdisciplinary research for hazards and disasters.

Save the Children U.S. recently launched a new project to: 1) increase VOAD and emergency management knowledge and awareness of children’s needs as well as their abilities to meet children’s needs in emergencies; 2) to influence increased prioritization of children’s needs in VOAD and emergency management organizations both through representation and organizational culture; and 3) to assess the proof of concept behind the project model in two Midwest states (Arkansas and Nebraska) through a formative outcome evaluation. The Natural Hazards Center team is designing and conducting a formative outcome evaluation to assess the proof of concept behind the project model and ascertain its potential for replicability across states.

Minority scholars focusing on hazards and disasters are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, yet minority populations often experience the most severe consequences from extreme events. Therefore, the Minority Scholars from Underrepresented Groups in Engineering and the Social Sciences (SURGE) Capacity in Disasters focuses on two challenges related to the underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities in hazards and disaster research and the disproportionate impacts of disasters on underserved racial and ethnic minority communities.

In collaboration with the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) and with support from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Natural Hazards Center is conducting a historical and prospective analysis to memorialize the NFIP’s most prominent impacts and to identify the most pressing issues that the program will have to address in the coming years.

The Center for Risk-Based Community Resilience Planning brings together experts from engineering, the social and behavioral sciences, and economics to model community resilience. Working in teams on more than 40 tasks, the Center of Excellence will provide a common data architecture known as IN-CORE: The Interdependent Networked Community Resilience Modeling Environment. IN-CORE will allow users to optimize community disaster resilience planning and post-disaster recovery strategies using physics-based models of interdependent physical systems combined with socio-economic systems.

In many parts of our nation, school buildings are vulnerable to severe damage or collapse in the next earthquake, tornado, hurricane, flood, tsunami, windstorm, or other natural hazard and our children are at risk. The guidebook, Stronger, Safer, Smarter, focuses on operational guidance (what to do before, during, and after an event) as well as physical protection (what can be done to the school facility to improve safety). The resulting guide offers up-to-date, authoritative information that schools can use to develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing natural hazards.

This study will look at factors affecting compliance to emergency shelter-in-place orders. The project will have two parts. The first part of the project will look at the experience of sheltering-in-place. The second part of the project will model shelter-in-place behavior.

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