Recently Funded Research

The following is a list of forthcoming research projects from the Natural Hazards Center Quick Response Research Award Program. Within six months of award approval, researchers submit an abstract and 20 page double-spaced report detailing their preliminary findings. Completed reports are available on the Quick Response Reports page.

Open Quick Response Program Awardees

The Rise of the Zero Responder: Social Capital and Grassroots Response after Hurricane Ian

Christa Remington, University of South Florida
Charity Remington, Center for Leadership Research & Action

Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 4 storm, causing widespread destruction along Florida’s western coast. Washed-out roads and unprecedented flooding isolated communities from receiving official aid. Using social capital and social networks, individuals who helped before first responders arrived—sometimes called zero responders—took a prominent role in grassroots response efforts, including rescuing stranded victims, providing meals, and distributing supplies. Using mixed methodology (e.g., surveys, interviews, PhotoVoice, social network analysis) this study will investigate the role of social capital in disaster response after Hurricane Ian by capturing how zero responders participated immediately after the disaster.


Heat and Integrated Thermal Stress Mitigation: Assessing Community Infrastructure and Adaptive Capacities in Subsidized Housing Neighborhoods

Dongying Li, Texas A&M University
Robert Brown, Texas A&M University
Yangyang Xu, Texas A&M University

Residents of subsidized housing are among the most vulnerable to extreme weather-related disasters. There is an urgent need to characterize the physical and social infrastructure related to heat and cold stress in these neighborhoods. The objective of our research is to evaluate human cold stress during Winter Storm Uri using field micrometeorological measurements and examine the extent to which the physical and social infrastructures could mitigate the impacts of the disaster through mixed-method approaches. The interdisciplinary team will leverage data on heat and cold stress and develop a convergent framework for thermal stress mitigation to combat climate inequalities.


Children and Older Adults in COVID-19

Alice Fothergill, University of Vermont
Christine Gibb, University of Ottawa
Nnenia Campbell, University of Colorado
Gabriella Meltzer, New York University

Children and older adults are two diverse populations deemed vulnerable in COVID-19, due to health risks, educational discontinuity, economic instability, and isolation. Indeed, age vulnerability is central in the pandemic and yet the voices of the young and old are rarely heard. This research project explores the lived experiences of both groups using participant-centered, innovative methods, such as daily journaling, drawings, interviews, online surveys, focus groups, podcasts, and workshops. The results of this project will contribute to better disaster preparedness, responses, and policies and support systems that address the specific challenges and resilience of these potentially vulnerable groups.


Developing a Culturally Relevant Metric of Food Insecurity for Native Americans in Western New York: A Pilot with the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations

Marlene Wakefield, D'Youville College
Lauren Clay, D'Youville College

Native Americans and Alaska Natives (NAANs) disproportionately experience economic hardships with higher poverty rates and lower average incomes that limit the ability to afford and procure healthy food. NAAN food systems traditionally involve obtaining food through traditional gathering methods and community food sharing practices. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread community disruption with those most vulnerable bearing the greatest burden. This research will develop and pilot a culturally relevant NAAN food security metric. Without a culturally relevant metric for food insecurity in NAAN populations, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food insecurity cannot be fully understood.


Invisible Variables: Personal Security Among Vulnerable Populations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Danielle Wood, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Katlyn Turner, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The rapid spread of COVID-19 requires decision-makers to act quickly to reduce the risk of disease spread. The adverse impacts of government-mandated social distancing measures on individuals are generally unknown. Vulnerable populations, such as low-income individuals, face unique challenges managing their safety, economic means, and autonomy in response to the policies implemented on local levels to curb the spread of COVID-19. This proposal aims to understand the invisible variables that contribute to vulnerable individual’s personal security during the hardships imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and institutional response.


Special Call for Proposals: FEMA Region 8

The State of Emergency Operations Centers in Colorado

Peter Loebach, Arapahoe Community College

This proposal is for a descriptive study of the staffing, structure, and operations of the Emergency Operations Centers of emergency management public agencies across the state of Colorado. Federal guidance on the structure and operations of Emergency Operations Centers to date has been unclear and inconsistent, and the empirical studies on the structuring of Emergency Operations Centers and the factors that contribute to their following a particular model are limited. Through surveys and review of organizational documents, this study will fill supply an extensive description of Emergency Operations Centers across the state of Colorado and the potential influencing factors.


Special Call for Proposals: 2021 Boulder County Fires

Monitoring the Recovery of the Coal Creek Ecosystem After the Marshall Fire

Diane McKnight, University of Colorado Boulder
Julie Korak, University of Colorado Boulder
Cresten Mansfeldt, University of Colorado Boulder
Lauren Magliozzi, University of Colorado Boulder

The Marshall Fire burn area overlaps much of the Coal Creek drainage area. Fires at the wildland-urban interface (WUI) pose contamination risk to surface waters, which can have a toxic impact on stream biota such as periphyton and benthic invertebrates. This study will measure standard water quality parameters, the concentration of metals, organic contaminants, and benthic invertebrate/periphyton health during the Spring and Summer of 2022 at eight sites along Coal Creek in Superior, Louisville, and unincorporated Boulder County. Limited data on stream impacts due to WUI fires exists, therefore collecting this time-sensitive data will inform local management decisions and launch future scholarly research activities.



Quick Response Research Reports are based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF Award #1635593). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF or the Natural Hazards Center.