Working toward better disaster research
Hazards and disasters are topics of concern for public health professionals and policymakers and research in these areas has become increasingly interdisciplinary over the years. Jennifer Horney, PhD, MPH, an associate professor in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department in the Texas A&M School of Public Health, has been selected to participate in two workshops meant to promote interdisciplinary scientific practices in disaster research. Horney’s main research areas are in public engagement in disaster planning and recovery efforts.
The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Infrastructure Management and Extreme Events Program is organizing these two workshops, the first of which will be held March 30–31, 2017, at NSF headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, as a way of furthering hazard and disaster research by focusing on six key areas: evaluating current research methods, forming and sustaining interdisciplinary research teams, clarifying opportunities and challenges, defining research outcomes, developing guidance for interdisciplinary teams and determining what lies ahead for research teams. The NSF chose participants who showed leadership in disaster research and had a diverse body of work in the field.
During the first workshop, participants will review several hazard and disaster research articles and will each write a brief paper focused on one of the core areas. These articles will be published later in a special issue of the journal Risk Analysis as a way of reaching a wider audience and raising awareness of the project. The workshop will also allow a diverse group of researchers to discuss the various challenges and opportunities involved in hazard and disaster studies.
The second workshop, which will be held during the fall, will see participants further developing their work from the first workshop, with an eye toward producing a book volume focused on developing guidance for interdisciplinary disaster research teams.
The lessons learned and ideas developed at these workshops will aim at improving interdisciplinary research on hazards and disasters. Further research should improve preparedness, hazard mitigation and disaster recovery planning, topics important to Texas’ nearly 27 million residents and the state’s economic wellbeing, which face risks of wildfires, flooding and hurricanes, and typically ranks first in the nation in Presidentially-declared major disasters.