Recently Funded Quick Response Research

The following is a list of forthcoming research projects from the Quick Response Research Award Program. Completed reports are available on the Quick Response Reports page.

Special Call for Weather Ready Research

The following is a list of recently funded Quick Response Research. These were awarded as part of a special call dedicated to advancing understanding of how to most effectively prepare for and communicate about extreme weather, water, and climate events. To learn more, read the full Special Call for Weather Ready Research.

Weather Ready Research: Risk Messaging During Syndemics

Lauren Clay, D'Youville College and New York University

The aims of this project include: 1) examine the process of risk messaging for hurricanes during a syndemic/dual hazard; 2) engage with different publics about risk messaging for hurricanes during a syndemic and emergency management and household decision making; 3) translate findings from risk/health communication, emergency management, and household decision making into a set of risk communication better practices/guidelines for future dual hazard or syndemics in the United States.

Improving Weather-Ready Communication During Monsoon Season in the U.S. Southwest to Address Post-Fire Flood Risk

Catrin Edgeley, Northern Arizona University
Noah Haarmann, Northern Arizona University
Anna Jaramillo-Scarborough, U.S. Forest Service

Post-fire flood risk is exacerbated in the US Southwest due to intense monsoon rainfall events. Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams and non-federal partners can work together to translate precipitation forecasting into effective burn scar stabilization strategies to reduce flood impacts such as loss of life and property. We will assess federal BAER documents for “weather ready” guidance, conduct geospatial analysis of weather-ready mitigations across Southwestern fires, and interview federal and non-federal partners to understand how weather-responsive actions are implemented in Southwestern burned areas. We aim to improve collaborative decision-making for flood risk mitigation through communication in time-sensitive post-fire environments.

Tornado and Flash Flood (TORFF) Warnings: Examining Climatology, Vulnerability, and Protective Decision-Making

Jennifer First, University of Tennessee
Kelsey Ellis, University of Tennessee
Stephen Strader, Villanova University

Severe weather can often include overlapping tornado and flash flood (TORFF) warnings. During a TORFF event, the publicly recommended protective actions for tornado and flash flooding hazards are contradictory––sheltering below ground during a tornado and moving to high ground during flash flooding events. Using a convergent framework, this interdisciplinary study will combine atmospheric, geospatial, and social science methodologies to examine a location’s climatological risk and societal exposure to TORFF events, and its relation to how residents perceived, responded to, and prioritized protective actions when dual warnings for tornadoes and flash floods recently occurred.

Effects of Intersecting Stakeholder Risk Perception, Preparedness, and Response to Tornadoes in Tennessee

Amanda Reinke, Kennesaw State University
Jaymelee Kim, University of Findlay
Erin Eldridge, University of North Carolina-Charlotte

Risk perception, disaster (un)preparedness, and ensuing communications are discussed in fields such as climatology, psychology, and emergency management. Anthropologists and geographers have argued that sociocultural factors influence risk perception and preparedness behaviors. While attention has shifted away from technocratic-driven models, scholarship has not adequately addressed the impacts of diverse stakeholder goals, behaviors, and responses. Instead, focus has been on urban community members. However, this mixed-methods study uses an interdisciplinary convergent approach to interrogate 1) how beliefs and behaviors influence choices in tornado preparedness and 2) processes and effects of hazard communication among rural stakeholders impacted by Tennessee’s 2020 tornadoes.

Extending Disaster Stories to Save Lives: Investigating the Staying Power and Influence of Narratives on Disaster Preparedness in Three North Carolina Counties

Rowena Rowie Kirby-Straker, Wake Forest University
Leslie Straker, Longwood University

There is a saying, "great stories are meant to be lived," but stories that end in death should neither be lived nor relived. There may, however, be ways to extend the life of such stories to save lives in future disasters. We explore the role of narratives in disaster preparedness using experiences of people affected or had the potential to be affected by the November 12 - 13 flooding in selected North Carolina counties, following tropical storm Eta. The study has implications for scholarship and practice incorporating narratives in risk and crisis communication as a means of motivating life-saving actions.

Learning from Hurricane Laura’s Near Miss: Evacuation Decision Making in an Environment of Compounding Uncertainties and Political Polarization

David Retchless, Texas A&M University at Galveston
Ashley Ross, Texas A&M University at Galveston

Hurricane Laura was a near miss for Houston-Galveston. Given the highly politicized nature of scientific issues (e.g. COVID-19), this study considers how political values and identities affect trust in science and in turn evacuation decision-making. It also evaluates how Laura’s near miss may affect evacuation intentions for future hurricanes and how these intentions may be altered by different messengers and messaging. These questions are explored via a survey of 850 adult residents of coastal counties in the Houston-Galveston region. Results will be analyzed via logistic and linear regression and disseminated via research briefs to improve future hurricane risk messaging.

Participatory Risk Communication Planning: Learning from Precariously Housed Communities

Jamie Vickery, University of Washington
Nicole Errett, University of Washington
Ann Bostrom, University of Washington
William Sweeney, Boulder Bridge House
Hansen Wendlandt, Nederland Interagency Council on Homeless Encampments

Risk communication literature increasingly has identified the need for inclusivity and sensitivity to the unique needs and capacities of populations labeled as ‘access and functional needs’ or ‘socially vulnerable.’ However, there remains a gap in our understanding as to if and how these individuals and communities are integrated into risk communication planning, let alone broader emergency operations planning. In this study, we will engage members of the Boulder and Denver communities with lived experience with homelessness as key partners in the research process as we work to identify gaps and opportunities in extreme weather risk communication for precariously housed individuals.

Assessing the Impact of Geo-Targeted Warning Messages on Residents Evacuation Decisions Before a Hurricane

Yan Wang, University of Florida
Corene Matyas, University of Florida
Ryan Wang, Northeastern University

The research project intends to assess if a geo-targeted warning is more effective than a general warning in motivating evacuations before a hurricane. It proposes a new framework to generates finer-scale warning zones based on forecasted hazards and the built environment for geo-targeted warnings to be sent, then simulates evacuation decisions with agent-based modeling. It compares the simulation outcome with real evacuation decisions extracted from high-resolution mobility data under general warnings for coarser scales. The findings help local national weather service understand the role of warning zone’s spatial scale and the effectiveness of geo-targeted warnings in motivating evacuations before hurricanes.

The Role of 360-degree Videos in Wildfire Preparedness: A Closer Look at Immersive Media and Risk Information Seeking Behaviors

Na Yu, University of Texas at Austin
Lucy Atkinson, University of Texas at Austin

Despite the very real and increasing risks posed by wildfires, wildfire preparedness fails to draw enough attention from the public. The issue, in part, is ineffective messaging. In our highly mediated world, public attention to wildfire preparedness can be improved by employing different modes of information delivery, for example, immersive and interactive media. Drawing on the Risk Information Seeking and Processing model and theories of immersive media, this study, this proposal investigates the degree to which novel, immersive communication approaches in the form of 360-degree videos are more effective at communicating wildfire preparedness with the public.

Second Special Call for Quick Response Proposals: COVID-19

The following is a list of recently funded Quick Response Research. These were awarded as part of a second round of funding dedicated to studying COVID-19. To learn more, read the full Special Call for COVID-19 Research.

COVID-19 and Asian Americans: Vulnerability and Resiliency

Angela Chen, Arizona State University
Wei Li, Arizona State University
Karen Leong, Arizona State University
SeungYong Han, Arizona State University

Asian Americans have experienced both anti-Asian discrimination and COVID-19 infection during the pandemic. This study will use a mixed-methods approach to examine the relationship among resource availability, relative risk, COVID-19 preventive behaviors, healthcare seeking behaviors, and health status in three large Asian American groups (71% foreign born): Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese, and to explore the role of racial/ethnic community organizations and advocacy to mitigate damages associated with COVID-19, including anti-Asian discrimination amid pandemic. Our study findings will provide meaningful information to enhance individual, community and policy-level decisions related to our target population.

College Persistence During a Pandemic: Supporting First-Generation College Students to Graduation

Cassandra Davis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Harriet Hartman, Rowan University
Dara Mendez, University of Pittsburgh
Jason Mendez, University of Pittsburgh
Terri Norton, Bucknell University
Julie Sexton, University of Colorado Boulder
Milanika Turner, Florida A&M University

This project investigates college persistence and barriers to persistence for first-generation college students (FGCS) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. FGCS are more likely to be low-income, represent communities of color, and arrive at college with fewer resources as compared to their non-first-generation peers. Funding will support data analysis from Fall 2020 and data collection and analysis for Spring 2021. The team will administer surveys, interviews, and visual aids to FGCS enrolled at seven U.S. universities in the spring. Our results will identify the barriers faced by FGCS and provide recommendations to college administrators on how best to meet students’ needs.

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.

Imagining and Building Post-COVID-19 Futures: Tourism, Conservation, and Dryland Communities in Africa

Mara Goldman, University of Colorado Boulder
Joana Roque de Pinho, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa
Angela Kronenburg Garcia, Ancient World University of Padua Italy
Jona Heita, University of Namibia
Eduard Gargallo, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

Global coronavirus control measures have resulted in the sudden drop in travel and tourism. This is having particularly strong implications for rural dryland communities, through the associated decrease in income from community-based conservation. At the same time, the pandemic is also exposing resilience within communities and creating openings to explore and enact alternative futures. This project will study the differentiated impacts and responses among dryland communities by the sudden loss of tourism income and cessation of CBC activities; and how these responses contribute to alternative future livelihood pathways. We will do this by studying cases in Kenya, Tanzania, and Namibia.

Examining Eviction Trends in Nebraska During COVID-19

Pierce Greenberg, Creighton University
Erin Feichtinger, Together Inc.
Danni Smith, Together Inc.
Emily Burke, Creighton University

This project aims to analyze trends in evictions that have occurred in Nebraska during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal is to compile a unique dataset from administrative court records that shows (1) how many evictions occurred at properties that were covered by a federal moratorium, (2) where evictions occurred across the state, with a focus on neighborhood disparities based on race and income, and (3) how the changing federal moratoriums impacted those disparities. The dissemination of these results will include a virtual summit with community partners, policy makers, non-profits, and other community members across the state.

Mental Health Impacts of the COVID-19 Response on the Public Health Workforce in the United States

Jennifer Horney, University of Delaware
Kristina Kintziger, University of Tennessee
Kahler Stone, Middle Tennessee State University
Meredith Jagger, Unaffilated
Sarah Scales, University of Delaware

The prolonged response to COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the mental health of the public health workforce. As we enter the ninth month of pandemic response with COVID-19 cases surging across the U.S., the pressures placed on the public health workforce are intensifying. Given unprecedented simultaneous challenges – the length, intensity, and politicization of the public health response, the potential for overlapping outbreaks of influenza, and the need to plan and implement a vaccination campaign – it is critical to identify protective factors that may mitigate the ongoing mental health impacts on a public health workforce near its breaking point.

The Impacts of COVID-19 on Gender Relations in the Context of Successive Disasters: The Case of Coastal Ecuador

Maja Jeranko, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Four years after a devastating earthquake, coastal Ecuador became an epicenter of another crisis, COVID-19. Housing allocation was a priority in post-earthquake recovery efforts and now, the home became the main site through which COVID-19 is experienced. Households recovering from previous disasters have been particularly affected by the COVID-19 regulations. This project focuses on three rural neighborhoods that were affected by successive disasters, the 2016 earthquake, followed by COVID-19, and received differential support from external organizations. In the aftermath of successive disasters, it seeks to analyze the impacts of COVID-19 on gender relations within different post-disaster housing settlements.

Social Media Interventions Against COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation: Focusing on Rural Populations

Jiyoung Lee, University of Alabama
Kimberly Bissell, University of Alabama

Although COVID-19 vaccination has emerged as an important—yet pending—issue, 50 percent of people in the U.S. are unwilling to get a COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available, mainly due to misinformation on social media that states unsafety of COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccination hesitancy prevails more among rural populations who are at risk of being exposed to unverified information and face serious health risks during the pandemic. To counter COVID-19 vaccination misinformation, our rapid study uses an online experiment and seeks to design social media interventions that can prevent people, particularly rural populations, from falling for misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

Workplace Safety and Mental Health Distress During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Brian Mayer, University of Arizona

Frontline essential workers have been called upon to perform duties vital to the function of the national economy while taking on increased exposure risks to COVID-19, often with little to no additional compensation. This study aims to examine the mental health consequences of frontline essential work during the COVID-19 pandemic for non-healthcare workers in the state of Arizona. By conducting a second wave of the Arizona Frontline Worker Survey as the pandemic’s second wave unfolds, this study will examine how employers can improve workplace practices and policies to reduce exposures to COVID-19 while promoting worker mental health and well-being.

Diabetes, Food Insecurity, and Mental Distress During COVID-19: Applying Syndemic Theory to Biosocial Interactions and Outcomes in New Mexico Colonias

Kathryn Olszowy, New Mexico State University
Mary Alice Scott, New Mexico State University

COVID-19 has contributed to rapid social and economic upheaval that has not impacted all communities equally. Individuals with conditions like diabetes and who come from multiply-marginalized backgrounds face a confluence of factors, including elevated food insecurity and mental distress, that increase risks to their overall health and well-being. This project proposes to develop a predictive model of interactions between diabetes, food insecurity, and mental distress during the COVID-19 pandemic in colonias (underdeveloped rural US-Mexico border communities) in New Mexico. Understanding how coinciding conditions interact is critical to developing actionable intervention plans for people with diabetes during social and environmental crises.

Second Wave Study: The Role of Civic Networks and Information Sources During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Changing Political and Economic Landscapes

Courtney Page-Tan, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Daniel Aldrich, Northeastern University
Summer Marion, Northeastern University
Chelsea LeNoble, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Allison Kwesell, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Civic networks and information sources have played an important role in explaining safe and socially conscious behaviors in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the early months of the pandemic, our team found evidence that horizontal and vertical linkages between individuals, communities, and information sources measurably altered behaviors during the pandemic among 800+ individuals in six selected neighborhoods in Boston and New York City. Our second wave survey investigates if these findings have held over time, and if changes in the conditions in the workplace, job and financial insecurities, and the current political landscape have moderated these results.

Asian Immigrant and Asian American Families During COVID-19

Vivian Shaw, Harvard University
Susanna Park, Oregon State University
Kara Takasaki, University of Texas at Austin
Amy Zhang, University of Texas at Austin

This study examines changing dynamics among Asian immigrant and Asian American families and intimate partners due to COVID-19 as they intersect with racism, economic insecurity, and public health policies. We conduct in-depth interviews and a general survey among A/AA individuals who are primary caregivers, adults who live at home, and LGBTQIA individuals to explore family dynamics and access to sexual and reproductive care services. We expect households with individuals who have been negatively impacted economically and/or socially due to the pandemic are experiencing elevated levels of family conflict and violence.

¡Estamos Bien, Puerto Rico!: Compounding Disasters and Young Adults in Puerto Rico

Mellie Torres, New York University
Catherine Garcia, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Anna Hayward, Stony Brook University
Gabriella Meltzer, New York University
Tatiana Elisa Bustos, Michigan State University
Alejandro Silva Diaz, Mentes Puertorriqueñas en Acción

Drawing directly from the CONVERGE COVID-19 Working Groups for Public Health and Social Sciences Research Agenda-Setting Paper on Puerto Rico and COVID-19, and working closely with a San Juan based community organization, this interdisciplinary, exploratory, mixed-methods study examines the mental wellness, coping, and resilience of young adult Puerto Ricans amidst compounding disasters. This project addresses the research question: How have the recent hurricanes, earthquakes, and COVID-19 (the Dire Trio) affected the mental health and well-being of Puerto Rican college students who have lived through all three disasters?

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.

Surviving COVID-19: Risk Factors and Risk Perception in Black Communities

Fengxiu Zhang, George Mason University
John Marvel, George Mason University

African Americans experience the most severe consequences from COVID-19. This project complements extant studies and advances understanding about the lived experience, perception and behavior in response to COVID-19 in black communities. Drawing on decision theories under extreme events, we focus on risk perception and develop a theoretical model to synthesize and theorize the relative effects of various risk factors on risk perception. The model further investigates how individuals respond to their risk perception in a way modulated by their differential adaptive capacity and values. We test the relationships with an online survey on a national representative sample of African Americans.

Special Call for Quick Response Research in U.S. Territories

The following is a list of recently funded Quick Response Research. These were awarded as part of a Special Call for Research in U.S. Territories.

Real-time Tracking of Intraregional Immigration from the Caribbean to Puerto Rico After Extreme Events

Alejandro Arrieta, Florida International University
Shu-Ching Chen, Florida International University
Richard Olson, Florida International University
Juan Pablo Sarmiento, Florida International University

International migration is a major effect of extreme events, and it is particularly relevant to Puerto Rico as an important host territory in the Caribbean. The lack of real-time data to track international migration in the Caribbean when disasters occur can easily overload the capacity of health organizations and public health response. In this study we will develop, test and validate an innovative model that utilizes big internet-derived data to track post-event international migration. A public version of our model will be available to track immigration flows to Puerto Rico as a result of the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Compound Hazards, Evacuations, and Mass Sheltering: Improving Practices for Public Health in the PRVI Region

Jennifer Collins, University of South Florida
Leslie Mass, Puerto Rico Science, Technology, and Research Trust
Janis Valmond, Caribbean Exploratory Research Center
Erik Ackerson, Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency
Ernesto Morales, National Weather Service San Juan

Through interdisciplinary mixed-method research, this study aims to provide insight for evacuation preparation in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (PRVI) for those who shelter at home, mass shelter, or evacuate elsewhere. Plans have to be tailored to accommodate new challenges (including pandemics), which are compounded to existing pressures (impacts from hurricanes, related landslides and flooding) that need to be addressed. Analysis compares results between PR and VI, informing planners in emergency management and public health. Researchers engage in PRVI territory-wide resident surveys examining their risks and vulnerabilities pre-hurricane as a baseline and post hurricane, providing analyses and trainings.

Hurricane Maria Mortality Study: Ascertaining the Excess Mortality and Associated Risk Factors Following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

Kristen Cowan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

In the year that followed Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico the number of deaths from the hurricane was a point of disagreement as various studies using models and surveys identified different mortality counts following the storm. There is a gap in literature on the number of deaths attributable to Hurricane Maria, particularly deaths indirectly caused by the hurricane or displacement. The Purpose of this study is to review death certificates to quantify excess deaths, to describe trends in deaths and to identify if there are geographical clusters of excess mortality from September 2017 to March 2018 following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Photovoice and Cultural Competence in Disaster Recovery

Monique Constance-Huggins, Winthrop University
Alexus Sharpe, Winthrop University

Culturally grounded work is critical in all types of service delivery, including disaster recovery. Yet, little attention is given to cultural competence of post disaster work and its impact on already distressed Caribbean communities. The proposed study fills the gap by exploring workers’ cultural competence using a unique social justice methodology—photovoice. The study has implications for improving the effectiveness of disaster work across a range of service areas. Should we remain committed to providing service that leads to sustainable change in the Caribbean region, then examining and responding to cultural competence must be critical components of our work.

Impact of Recovery on Economic Equality, Public Health, and Disaster Preparedness in Puerto Rico

Antonio Fernos, Inter American University of Puerto Rico
Alison Chopel, Independent Researcher
Laura Gorbea, Puerto Rico Public and Applied Social Sciences Workshop

The proposed study uses the convergent framework and mixed methods to examine dynamic relationships between natural disaster damages, emergency responses, recovery efforts, public health and hazard readiness in Puerto Rico. The research focuses on economic equality as we seek to improve understanding of both the causes and effects of poverty in the context of compound and cascading disasters. The transdisciplinary approach converges economics, applied anthropology and public health. Findings are expected to provide new insights to inform development of economic policies that build social resilience and manifest improved public health.

Frontline Government Workers: An Assessment of Burnout and Quality of Life in the U.S. Virgin Islands Following Disasters

Kula Francis, University of the Virgin Islands
Nisha Clavier, University of the Virgin Islands
Kenny Hendrickson, University of the Virgin Islands

Recently, the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) have been impacted by disasters. Namely, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, and COVID-19. This research uncovers burnout and the quality of life for frontline workers of public agencies in the USVI. Frontline workers operate in harsh conditions during disasters. Examining burnout and professional quality of life offers insight on the wellbeing of employees in public organizations. An exploratory mixed-method design is used. Data collection uses modified versions of Professional Quality of Life Scale and Maslach Burnout Inventory. Regression analysis will examine the relationship between frontline government worker’s post-disaster burnout and professional quality of life.

Nonprofit Response to Concurrent Disaster Events

Ivis Garcia, University of Utah
Divya Chandrasekhar, University of Utah
N. Emel Ganapati, Florida International University
Pablo Jose Rivera Miranda, Métrika
Kevin Fagundo-Ojeda, University of Utah

Disaster planning policy and practice largely agree on the importance of nonprofits in recovery management but lack insight into how nonprofits navigate the recovery process themselves. In this study, we examine how health and allied sector nonprofits in Puerto Rico are faring under the compound effect of 2020 Southwest Puerto Rico Earthquake Sequence and COVID-19 pandemic, and what actions they are taking in response. We then compare these findings against findings of a similar study conducted after the 2017 Hurricanes Irma and Maria to produce a longitudinal understanding of nonprofit experience in contexts of consecutive, cascading, and compound disasters.

Impact of Cascading Disasters on High School Student Resilience, Coping, and Educational Performance in St. Thomas and St. John

Leonard Huggins, University of Phoenix
Ted Serrant, Houston Independent School District

More than 51 million people were hit by overlapping disasters during the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Thomas and St. John, US Virgin Islands have been experiencing such cascading disasters for decades. In September 2017, they were devastated by category 4 Hurricane Maria while still reeling from the destruction of category 5 Hurricane Irma. While some studies assessed the needs of vulnerable children and families in response to cascading disasters, we have limited evidence on how high-schoolers cope and adjust in the longer term. After 3 years, we examine how high-schoolers bounce-back, cope, and perform, academically, in anticipation of graduation.

Sharing is Caring: Experiences and Lessons from Islands

Karl Kim, University of Hawaii

This study focuses on sharing of housing, goods and services before, during and after extreme events. Using mixed methods (survey questionnaire, interviews, and workshop), the research will 1) describe sharing before, during, and after disasters in five islands and territories; 2) what are mechanisms and practices for sharing of shelter and mass care services and goods during disasters; 3) what is the role of global sharing industries during disasters in these communities; 4) how is sharing integrated in formal and informal initiatives to enhance preparedness and resilience; 5) what lessons, practices, and actions can be shared beyond these island communities?

When Nobody Came to Help Me: Protective Factors for College Students in Puerto Rico

María de Lourdes Lara-Hernández, University of Puerto Rico
Félix López-Román, University of Puerto Rico
Elena Martínez-Torres, Agenda Ciudadana Foundation
Sol Molina-Parrilla, University of Puerto Rico

In less than three years, college students in Puerto Rico survived multiple disasters (hurricanes Irma and María, earthquakes and the COVID-19 pandemic). Notwithstanding, they have continued studying and are about to complete their bachelor’s degree. The problems and the impact have been researched. How they managed to overcome them remains unknown. This research will document and identify, through in-depth interviews and focal groups, protective factors that supported the academic and mental health performance of low-income undergraduate students. Its results elucidate the practices and competences that could be integrated in community mental health services and public policies of the campus community.

Calculating the Social Vulnerability Index for Guam

Yvette Paulino, University of Guam
Grazyna Badowski, University of Guam
Jade Chennaux, University of Guam
Monica Guerrero, Guam State Data Center Bureau of Statistics and Plans
Sela Panapasa, University of Michigan

The Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) is a measure of a community’s vulnerability based on social, economic, and demographic factors. The SVI has been constructed for the communities defined by the census tracts in the United States and Puerto Rico, but not Guam. The SVI will be calculated for Guam using census data extracted from the 2010 Guam Demographic Profile Summary. The results may inform the government’s response plans and prioritization of resources according to community needs based on the vulnerability across the municipalities of Guam.

Risk Communication in Concurrent Disasters

Jenniffer Santos-Hernandez, University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras
Lorna Jaramillo Nieves, University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras
Sara McBride, U.S. Geological Survey
Nnenia Campbell, University of Colorado Boulder
Jeiselynn Ríos Rivera, University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras
Leslie Martínez Román, University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras

In the last three years, residents of Puerto Rico have been affected by hurricanes Irma and María, the 2020 earthquake sequence, and the COVID-19 pandemic. This project seeks to (1) understand the risk perception of diverse users of earthquake risk communication information in Puerto Rico, (2) how available risk communication products (e.g., aftershock forecasts), experience with other unfolding disasters, as well as their social characteristics and individual and familial situation, may inform hazard reduction and protective action decision making, and (3) co-design visualizations that allow governmental and non-governmental organizations to effectively and efficiently convey current and future earthquake risk.

The Effect of School Disruptions Due to Three Consecutive Natural Hazard Events on Educational Outcomes

Eileen Segarra-Alméstica, University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras
Yolanda Cordero-Nieves, University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras
Indira Luciano-Montalvo, University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras
Héctor Cordero-Guzmán, City University of New York
José Caraballo-Cueto, University of Puerto Rico Cayey

Major hurricanes hit Puerto Rico in September 2017. In January 2020, the Island experienced a 6.4 earthquake, and the COVID -19 emergency began in March 2020. These events forced schools to close temporarily. Our research focusses on the effects of school disruptions due to these events on educational outcomes, paying particular attention to vulnerable students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, with disabilities, or both. We propose a mixed-method approach combining quantitative analysis of administrative data with focus groups and interviews to identify challenges faced by vulnerable students and the strategies that would reduce the impacts of natural disasters on educational outcomes.

Co-Designing Cultural Probes for Participatory Community Mapping: Informal Emergency Shelter Planning and Management in Puerto Rico

Jonathan Sury, Columbia University
Robert Soden, University of Toronto
Yiyuan Jasmine Qin, Recollective

Puerto Rico faces a unique risk profile due to climate change, increased seismicity, the global pandemic, and slow recovery from Hurricane Maria. In the face of cascading and compounding disasters. The need to improve community-led disaster planning and management is of great importance. Our collaborative team seeks to improve informal emergency shelter planning and management through participatory action and design research framework. We aim to explore the novel approach of cultural probes for participatory community mapping in Puerto Rico under the physical distancing constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cascading Disasters, Gender, and Vulnerabilities in the South-West Region of Puerto Rico

M. Gabriela Torres, Wheaton College
Alitza Cardona, Puerto Rico Science and Technology Research Trust
Mabel Crescioni, Puerto Rico Science and Technology Research Trust
Jane Henrici, George Washington University
Waleska Sanabria-León, Pontificia Universidad Católica Puerto Rico

Cascading disasters in Puerto Rico since 2015 have included hurricane, seismic, and epidemiological events as well as those that are socio-economic and governmental; all these processes disproportionately appear to have impacted those who reside in the southwestern part of the island, particularly those who are poorer women, while both being affected by and worsening the vulnerability of a weakened and mistrusted public health system. The proposed multi-site ethnography uses mixed methods for secondary and primary data collection and analysis to provide recommendations for a long-term plan to improve the public health system for the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

Quick Response Research: COVID-19 and Transportation

The following is a list of recently funded Quick Response Research. These were awarded as part of a special call for research on COVID-19 and transportation.

Content Analysis of Web-based Communication Strategies Used by Public Transit Agencies in Major U.S. Cities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Jessica L. Franks, Georgia State University

In times of heightened risk of disease transmission, safe and reliable public transit is essential to ensure all citizens, and particularly those most vulnerable, have access to the services they need. For vulnerable populations, the disproportionate distribution of necessary accommodations and supports within transportation systems and structures may further impact health care access and many other facets of life that connect to health outcomes during this time. Given this heightened risk, and the increased reliance of vulnerable populations on public transportation for necessary services, our rapid study seeks to evaluate how public transit agencies are using the web to communicate COVID-19 related information to the public.

Adapting Transportation to Accommodate Populations Vulnerable to COVID-19 in Hazardous Settings

Nicole Hutton, Old Dominion University
Jennifer Whytlaw, Old Dominion University
Saige Hill, Old Dominion University

Under a compound pandemic-hurricane scenario, the demands for evacuation assistance will be different and the capacity to meet these demands will be truncated. This participatory study explores how visualizations of redistributed vulnerability and transportation resources influence planning. We draw upon original data from a survey of evacuation behavior and compound hazard preparation workshops. We will convene focus groups of local and national stakeholders to determine options and resource needs to address shifting vulnerabilities through modified transportation. The case study and national input will be integrated into an Esri StoryMap of Transportation Accommodations for Populations Vulnerable to COVID-19 in Hazardous Environments.

Equitable Mobility in the Pandemic Age

Christopher Wyczalkowski, Georgia State University
Deirdre Oakley, Georgia State University
Fei Li, Georgia State University
Karen Johnston, Georgia State University
Stacie Kershner, Georgia State University
Niklas Vollmer, Georgia State University
Prentiss Dantzler, Georgia State University

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the existing problems facing urban mobility, particularly for low-income populations that rely on public transportation. Urban social theories suggest that multiple forms of discrimination in conjunction with urban sprawl combine to create inequitable outcomes for low-income and minority populations based on their location and condition of local infrastructure. In this study we address this issue by extending on-going qualitative research on the topic of urban connectivity for low-income and minority groups in Atlanta, GA through a series of semi-structured focus groups to address the mobility needs and challenges in this new environment.

COVID-19 Quick Response Research: Round 1


The following is a list of recently funded COVID-19 Quick Response Research. These were awarded as part of a Special Call for research on this global crisis.

Enhancing Our Healthcare Heroes’ Overall Well-Being: Balancing Patient Health, Personal Risk, and Family Responsibilities during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Rachel Adams, University of Colorado Boulder
Haorui Wu, Dalhousie University

As the coronavirus spreads rapidly across the globe, healthcare professionals are working tirelessly to care for patients despite shortages in personal protective equipment and medical supplies. Current research rarely examines how healthcare workers balance patient care, personal risk, and family responsibilities during a pandemic. To address this gap, we use qualitative methods to measure holistic well-being among healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study will identify specific challenges that healthcare workers face and inform recommendations for evidence-based emergency planning for pandemics. Ultimately, this research can enhance healthcare workers’ capacity to prepare for and respond to future public health emergencies.

Does the Public Ignore Information from Female Governors Tackling the COVID-19 Pandemic?: A Survey Experiment of Gender Differences in Public Risk Perception and Risk Protection Behavior

Sebawit Bishu, University of Colorado Denver

Preparedness during public health crises heavily depends on public leaders’ effective communication. Outcomes of effective communication and leadership influence is also shaped by socially constructed gender role-expectations that attribute instrumental leadership qualities to men. The current COVID-19 outbreak offers a natural experiment setting to study if leadership gender bias conflicts with public leaders’ effective communication. This study aims to examine if public leader’s gender explains systemic differences in the public’s risk perception and protective actions. In addition, it examines message design as a possible avenue to mitigate leadership gender bias.

Resilience of Social Capital Networks to Social Distancing: Multiscale Evolution of Physical and Virtual Support Networks

Elisa Borowski, Northwestern University
Amanda Stathopoulos, Northwestern University

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in statewide stay-at-home orders across 30 states at present. The proposed research will examine the effects of distancing measures on physical and virtual social capital networks at the individual-, community-, and organizational-level in the United States. By analyzing data from an online name generator survey, crowdsourcing platforms, and telephone interviews using choice modeling, social network analysis, and qualitative descriptive analysis, the findings of this study will provide valuable insights into social isolation vulnerabilities, the potential for virtual volunteering to fill gaps in support networks, and the long-term impacts of disruptions to social capital.

Family Farm Resilience and Challenges Under COVID-19 Containment Measures in North Carolina

Sara Brune, North Carolina State University
Olivia Vila, North Carolina State University
Danielle Lawson, North Carolina State University
Whitney Knollenberg, North Carolina State University

This study will examine family farmers’ challenges, adaptive capacity, and resilience to operate under the COVID-19 crisis. Family farms are central to sourcing local food systems, supporting local economies, and securing access to fresh and nutritious food to communities. Using a longitudinal qualitative research design, family farms will be interviewed at three points in time to understand their evolving adaptive strategies to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. The findings of this study will inform future policies and strategies to help reduce the vulnerability of family farms as well as the vulnerability of local food systems and local economies.

Health and Social Consequences of Food Environment Disruption Due to COVID-19

Laura Clay, New York University
Britta Heath, D’Youville College

Food insecurity is associated with higher rates of infection, mental health problems, and chronic conditions. Alleviating limited access to food that arises during disasters is the focus of recovery efforts, however there is limited evidence on which to build effective interventions for meeting community food needs. This research will characterize the impact of COVID-19 on food access, availability, sources, and security, identify risk and protective factors for food insecurity, describe how individuals are improvising to meet their food needs when pandemic risk necessarily requires social distancing, and contribute to refining a Socio-ecological Model of the Disaster Food Environment for pandemics.

Feeding Families in COVID-19-Quarantined Wuhan: Intersectional Adaptations to a Disaster

Jane Henrici, George Washington University
Aojie Ju, George Washington University

Wuhan, China in November 2019 was the site of the first confirmed COVID-19 case; following that, between the end of January through March 2020, the city and surrounding Hubei province were under lockdown by the Chinese government. Original mixed-methods research, conducted online with persons quarantined during the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, will provide insights into the adaptation strategies of a gendered and otherwise segmented economy within a mega-city population facing the compounded challenges of a pandemic and blockade on top of preexisting environmental conditions. The analysis for this project will inform economic, health, and social disaster response and climate action.

College Students and the COVID-19 Crisis: Evaluating Psychological Impacts and the Formation of Purpose and Meaning During a Disaster

Betty Lai, Boston College
Belle Liang, Boston College

Responding to the COVID-19 disaster, U.S. colleges have rapidly cancelled in-person classes, displacing students and causing psychological, financial, and social distress. Ensuring that college students are able to complete their degrees when faced with disasters has enormous economic and public health benefits. Students who complete their degrees earn more, are healthier, and happier. Supporting educational continuity for students is critical for substantially reducing risks and losses post-disaster. Yet, we have limited evidence to guide disaster recovery efforts for college students. Filling this evidence gap, the project will assess college student and faculty/advisor experiences during the COVID-19 disaster.

Barbados, a U.S. City, and the Political Economy of a Pandemic

Vanessa Leon, New York University - Wagner

This study explores the political economy of disasters in order to better understand the institutional arrangements, pre- and post-disaster, that contribute to ongoing risks as well as the resulting state-level response in its aftermath. For example, consider that Barbados has only had about 170 confirmed COVID-19 cases and seven deaths as of August 31st, 2020 while Orlando, a U.S. city of comparable population size, has had approximately 35,900 cases along with almost 380 deaths by that time. The study therefore assesses the factors that might be contributing to Barbados' demonstrated ability to manage the pandemic as compared to Orlando, despite the latter’s standing within a country that has greater geopolitical influence globally.

Dynamic Risk Perception and Behavior in Response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID 19)

Hua Qin, University of Missouri-Columbia
Christine Sanders, University of Missouri-Columbia
Yanu Prasetyo, University of Missouri-Columbia

Despite the inherent dynamic nature of risk events, the temporal dimension of risk perception and behavior has been understudied in the current risk science literature. Considering the continuous global spread of the new coronavirus, we propose to examine the dynamic risk perception and behavior in response to this disease in four major US cities. Timely data will be collected through multiple methods including public health records, news media analysis, and a series of online surveys. This research can contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics of risk perception and behavior, and directly support the development of epidemic management strategies.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Businesses and Workers during COVID-19: Recovery, Resilience, and Loss

Vivian Shaw, Harvard University
Jason Beckfield, Harvard University
Cynthia Wang, California State University, Los Angeles
Mu Wu, California State University, Los Angeles

This pilot study will examine the economic and social consequences of COVID-19 as they intersect with questions of racial stigma and racial violence that disproportionately affects AAPI, an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse demographic that nonetheless frequently shares overlapping experiences of racism and xenophobia across multiple ethnic categories. We will conduct a general survey and interview small businesses owners, gig economy workers, low-wage laborers in “essential industries,” individuals working in intimate labor, and healthcare and other paid care workers. We will also interview members of community-based organizations that are mobilizing to support AAPI businesses and workers disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Trajectories of Psychological Functioning and Pandemic Preparedness for Students Quarantined During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Marcela Weber, The University of Mississippi
Jeffery Pavlacic, The University of Mississippi
Victoria Torres, The University of Mississippi
Stefan Schulenberg, The University of Mississippi
Erin Buchanan, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology

This study will examine factors contributing to resilient and symptomatic trajectories such as social support and meaning in life, among students quarantined in campus housing during the COVID-19 outbreak. Similarly, we will assess the role of self-efficacy, collective, efficacy, and threat perception for predicting pandemic-prepared trajectories. We will collect weekly data as the pandemic unfolds, to measure how resilient and prepared trajectories evolve over time. With a sample of predominantly international students, we will also compare the effects of secondary stressors from COVID-19 such as discrimination against Asians.

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.

California’s Recurring Wildfires Quick Response Research Grants


The following is a list of recently funded California Wildfire Quick Response Research Grants. These grants were awarded as part of a Special Call for research to study wildfires that were devastating communities across California.

A First Step Towards Longitudinal Study on Homeowners’ Proactive Actions for Managing Wildfire Risks

Ji Yun Lee, Washington State University
Yue Li, Case Western Reserve University

Individual responsibility plays an important role in improving the resilience of communities exposed to wildfires. Homeowners’ decisions on whether to adopt proactive actions for managing wildfire risks are made based on the characteristics of houses and homeowners and consequently affect the recovery processes of houses and a community. Based on an online survey and field study of residents in Sonoma County, California, whose properties were damaged by the 2019 Kincade Fire, this research serves as a first step towards longitudinal study aimed at understanding homeowners’ proactive actions in response to wildfire.

Modeling of Evacuation Behavior in the 2019 Kincade Fire, Sonoma County, California

Xilei Zhao, University of Florida
Ruggiero Lovreglio, Massey University
Erica Kuligowski, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Daniel Nilsson, University of Canterbury

Wildfires have become an escalating problem in California. In order to adapt to the changing threat of wildfires, it is important to understand the household evacuation process, i.e., how people perceive wildfire threat and respond to it. A survey study with people affected by the 2019 Kincade Fire in Sonoma County, CA is proposed to better understand the wildfire evacuation behavior in this specific event. The survey will use interpretable machine learning to explore how different key factors affected people’s risk perception, evacuation decision, and subsequent evacuation behavior during the Kincade Fire.

How Californian Power Outages in October 2019 Shaped Perceptions of and Behavioral Adaptations Towards Future Natural Hazards

Matto Mildenberger, University of California, Santa Barbara
Peter Howe, Utah State University
Leah Stokes, University of California, Santa Barbara

Northern Californians experienced widespread power outages in mid-October 2019 intended to reduce risk of wildfire ignition. These outages affected about 600,000 customers over a 3-day period and caused major disruptions to normal activities among affected households. This project leverages these power outages as a natural experiment to investigate how experience with an outage–as a tangible hazard and climate adaptation-related event–shaped risk perceptions, policy preferences, and behavior.

Impacts to Engineered Facilities Caused by the California Camp Fire

Erica Fischer, Oregon State University
Hussam Mahmoud, Colorado State University
Sara Hamideh, Iowa State University

The California Camp Fire caused significant damage to Butte County, California, and particularly to the town of Paradise. This research will examine and assess the performance of critical infrastructure in this wildfire and the mitigation techniques that were implemented before the fire. The results of this study will inform recommendations for codes and standards improvements to future mitigation techniques to prevent damage to critical infrastructure within a community.

Quick Response Research Award Program Open Calls

The following is a list of forthcoming Quick Response Award Program research projects which are accepted on an open rolling basis. Within six months of award approval, researchers submit an abstract and 10-page report detailing their preliminary findings.

2019 Searles Valley Earthquakes: Understanding Healthcare Facility Administrator Decision Making and Information Needs About Closure, Evacuation, Reopening and Reentry During Major Earthquakes

Nicole Errett, University of Washington
Kimberely Shoaf, University of Utah
Meghan McGinty, Johns Hopkins University
Katherine Pedersen, University of Washington

Following Hurricanes Sandy and Harvey, research involving hospital administrators concluded that they relied on intuition, experience in previous events, facility knowledge, and availability of information regarding the approaching storm to inform their decisions to evacuate or shelter-in-place. Yet, factors administrators and leaders consider when deciding to close, evacuate, reopen, or reenter healthcare facilities following an earthquake without advance notice remain largely unknown. To close this knowledge gap, this timely research explores what factors healthcare administrators consider when making decisions about their facility following the 6.4 and 7.1 magnitude earthquakes that struck Ridgecrest, California on July 4 and 5, 2019, respectively.

Damage, Dislocation and Displacement after low Attention Disasters: Experiences of Renter and Immigrant Households

Sara Hamideh, Iowa State University
Sri Sritharan, Iowa State University
Jon Wolseth, Iowa State University

This study will examine the impacts of low attention disasters with respect to damage, dislocation, and displacement on renter and immigrant households in Marshalltown, Iowa after an EF-3 Tornado. This small Midwestern city with a relatively high percentage of Hispanic, immigrant, and renter households suffered major destruction particularly in low income neighborhoods but received only State disaster declaration and limited media attention. This study will examine features of low attention disasters that shape disaster impacts, address the effects of housing tenure on disaster experiences, and the role of immigration status in visibility and eligibility of disaster victims for assistance.

Effects of Acute and Chronic Stress Following a Hurricane on Pregnancy Outcomes

Michaela Howells, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Kelsey Needham Dancause, University of Quebec Montreal

This research uses questionnaires and biomarkers to assess stress caused by Hurricane Florence to socially disadvantaged and ethnic minority women who were pregnant. The authors will analyze infant birth outcomes, such as birthweight and gestational age. This will provide a baseline for continued follow-up throughout infancy and could help guide recovery efforts to improve maternal and child health in socially disadvantaged communities.

Co-Occurring Black Swan Events: Overlapping Hurricanes in the Context of a Pandemic

Alessandra Jerolleman, Jacksonville State University
Shirley Laska, Lowlander Center

Hurricanes Marco and Laura created the first ever overlapping landing of storms in the United States and were layered with the strongest winds since 1857. Within the context of a pandemic (COVID-19) and a missed surge forecast for Hurricane Laura, these unique qualities created a challenging management situation for county leaders and emergency managers. Given changing climate conditions, it is important to refine what is known about local disaster management within this context of the layering of new disaster conditions.

Just Recovery from Hurricane Laura: Supporting Safe and Healthy Communities and Ecosystems for a Rejuvenated Future

Julie Maldonado, Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network
Kristina Peterson, Lowlander Center

Hurricane Laura is the latest mark in a complex history of co-occurring disasters and injustices for communities and ecosystems in Louisiana. The communities most affected were already hit by high levels of pollution, poverty, poor housing, failing infrastructure, extreme land loss, and climate and weather impacts. Communities of color, Latinx, Vietnamese, Indigenous, Afro-American, Creole, and historied populations will be most likely impacted by official recovery decisions. Our intent is to provide data-driven tools to inform communities, families, and individuals’ decision-making and choices that impact their future wellbeing. This will enable visioning a rejuvenated future based on full participation and rights.

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.