Completed Research Projects

Using a step-wise cluster comparison, this project expanded disaster mental health intervention research implemented elsewhere in Nepal with flood-prone communities, to earthquake affected areas in Kathmandu Valley. The project also drew on previous work with earthquake survivors in Haiti to adapt intervention content to the specific needs of earthquake survivors in Nepal.


Chasing Ice is an award-winning documentary that follows the work of the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), an initiative aimed at capturing the rapid melting of glaciers at multiple locations across the globe. Using pre-and post-test survey instruments, this study assessed the impacts of the film on attitudes and knowledge about climate change.


This evaluation research supported the USGS SAFFR division’s HayWired Scenario Project and its mission to foster the use of science in earthquake-related decision-making. The overarching purpose of the evaluation activities was to provide information to the USGS and its key stakeholders regarding the development, implementation, and immediate outcomes of the Haywired Scenario.


This project supported NOAA’s Tsunami Program by using social science methods to identify strengths and weaknesses in Tsunami Warning Center (TWC) products and the TsunamiReady Program (TRP). Findings of this research provided guidance for improving products and education; developed ways to monitor and assess progress; and provided contents for a repository for social science research findings. The rationale for this social science research was that findings would support NOAA’s mission to provide reliable tsunami forecasts and warnings and promote community resilience.


A 2005 FEMA-sponsored study, Natural Hazards Mitigation Saves found that “brick and mortar” disaster mitigation projects save $4 for every federal dollar spent. This research focused on the returns to investment in community-based efforts such as disaster preparedness, outreach, partnership building, and public education—so called “whole-community” activities that are more difficult to quantify.


Despite its importance, relatively little attention has been paid to the temporary housing phase of disaster recovery. This study involved multiple trips to Haiti to track the progress of temporary housing activities, with an emphasis on decision making and planning by international agencies, the Haitian government, and non-governmental organizations.


The goal of FEMA P-1000 was to develop a companion guide to FEMA’s Guide on Developing High Quality School Emergency Operations Plans (U.S. Department of Education, 2013). P-1000 provides additional information specific to natural hazards to help schools be better prepared and better able to respond, recover, and mitigate future natural hazards. This Guide focuses on operational guidance (what to do before, during and after an event) as well as physical protection (what can be done to the structure and facility to improve safety). It was developed with input from design professionals, emergency managers, school administrators, teachers, representatives of concerned parent groups, and other relevant entities.


On April 20, 2010 the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and started burning in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. The rig eventually sank, leaving a breached wellhead that released an estimated 185 to 205 million gallons of crude oil in the months before it was capped and permanently sealed. Under direction from the Federal government, BP set aside $20 billion to pay damage claims. However, the claims process became a bureaucratic and legal quagmire, as well as a source of contention and stress in coastal communities. This RAPID project supported research on how settlement and litigation processes in the aftermath of this technological disaster are influencing social and psychological recovery in the State of Alabama’s coastal communities.


This study evaluated a culturally-adapted community-based disaster mental health intervention designed to mitigate the impact of chronic annual flooding among vulnerable communities in Haiti and Nepal. The study used a longitudinal randomized controlled trial design to determine if the intervention was effective in enhancing community resilience by improving mental health and increasing engagement in disaster preparedness and response, including enabling community members to care for themselves and provide assistance to others when a natural disaster occurs.