Recently Funded Quick Response Research

The following is a list of forthcoming Quick Response Award Program research projects. Within three months of leaving the field, researchers submit an abstract and 10-page report detailing their preliminary findings. Completed reports are available on the Quick Response Reports page.

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: 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


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.

Social Ties, Quarantine Policy, and the Spread of COVID-19

Daniel Aldrich, Northeastern University
Courtney Page-Tan, Embry-Riddle University
Juheon Lee, Midwestern State University
Tim Fraser, Northeastern University
Summer Marion, Northeastern University

The majority of COVID19 responses have been focused on individual medical interventions including social distancing and hand washing. Yet beyond individualized policies, regional and institutional factors such as social ties, health care capacity, and mobility may be core drivers in stopping (or accelerating) infection. Some cities—such as San Francisco, New York, and Boston—moved rapidly to close schools and restaurants while others—such as Dallas, and Orlando—did not. We will conduct a multilevel investigation with individual level data from 4 neighborhoods in Boston and New York City along with city-level data from 18 cities.

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.

Energy Justice and Coronavirus Vulnerability: Identifying Risk, Household Needs, and Policies for Mitigating COVID-19 Stress on Energy Security in the US

Adam Mayer, Colorado State University
Stacia Ryder, Colorado State University
Jen Dickie, University of Sterling

Through an interdisciplinary, mixed-method research project we aim to understand (1) how energy injustice and fuel poverty may influence Coronavirus vulnerability, and (2) how policy responses to Coronavirus may exacerbate or alleviate issues of inequality in energy access and availability. Given the long-term shelter-in-place orders coupled with essential energy needs for treating COVID-19, the Coronavirus pandemic makes the connections between energy, poverty, disaster vulnerability, and risk mitigation more visible. To explore these connections and inform disaster energy policies, we engage in secondary data analysis, GIS mapping, social media surveying, local government surveys and policy analysis.

Exploring the Experiences of University Students Evicted from On-Campus Housing During the COVID-19 Pandemic: An International Comparison

Marla Perez-Lugo, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez
Cecilio Ortiz-Garcia, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez
Haorui Wu, Dalhousie University
Frances Gonzalez, RISE
Adriana Castillo, RISE

Many universities have closed their campus residences since the COVID-19 pandemia started. The consequences may be staggering for international/out-of-state students, a vulnerable but often neglected population. Their evictions may also impact the public’s health due to an increase in air travel. We document and compare the experiences and coping strategies of evicted international/out-of-state university students in the US and Canada. The relevance of this research to disaster studies is that it sheds light into the universities’ organizational responses to disasters, and how these converge to impact its internal and external populations.

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.

Gendered Experiences of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Rachel Rinaldo, University of Colorado Boulder

This study seeks to begin investigating the gendered consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. It will investigate how the pandemic is affecting the gendered division of household labor among families with children under 18. The study will use an online survey and in-depth interviews with men and women who have children under 18 in order to understand their experiences.

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.

Exploring the Effects of COVID-19 on Quality of Life of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Direct Support Professionals

Erin Vinoski Thomas, Georgia State University

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (PWIDD) face unique risks during emergencies such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, direct support professionals (DSPs) who support individuals with disabilities may also face substantial risks. To understand how the pandemic has impacted quality of life (QoL) outcomes among PWIDD and DSPs, we propose a rapid mixed methods investigation to assess changes in QoL among PWIDD and DSPs in the US (N = 68). Findings will inform the development of policies and best practices that support PWIDD and DSPs in similar infectious disease emergencies.

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.

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Parental Stress and Young Children’s Development During Self-Isolation

Chenyi Zhang, Georgia State University
Wei Qiu, Weber State University

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of parents with young children do not receive childcare and parenting support due to the closure of childcare services and self-isolation amid the COVID-19 pandemic. To identify the common stressors that parents experience during a pandemic outbreak, and investigate how the COVID-19 pandemic may have an impact on parent-child relationships over time, this study employs an online-questionnaire method (Qualtrics) to collect longitudinal self-reported data from parents on their parenting stress and child behaviors and quality of parent-child relationship. Parents' socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds are considered when investigating the impact.

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.

Other Recently Funded Quick Response Research

Questioning Public Science: Perceptions of Meteorological Aptitude and Scientists’ Response

Staci Zavattaro, University of Central Florida
Kelly Stevens, University of Central Florida
Christopher Emrich, University of Central Florida

This research posits the role of brand trust in crisis communication, focusing on the ways in which the public and meteorologists perceive their roles in the communication process. Researchers will use a mixed methods approach in the wake of Hurricane Dorian to identify aspects of brand trust, the role brand personalities play in the public accepting or rejecting crisis information, and how meteorologists understand and communicate their roles. Findings will add to existing crisis communication literature by expressly examining the role of brands in the process.

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.

Resilience from Below: Positionality of Informal Disaster Responders and Volunteers

Darien Alexander Williams, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This research explores the opportunities and challenges faced by individuals in volunteer organizations active in disaster in the Florida Panhandle as their work intersects with formal emergency management- and government-led projects following Hurricane Michael. The author will look at interactions through the lenses of race, gender, class, and other identities carried by volunteers. The study will use qualitative methods to collect data during the response and recovery periods.

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.

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.

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.