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The 2010 Disaster Research Center summer undergraduate research program class meets in Graham Hall.
1:52 p.m., July 9, 2010----Thirteen undergraduate
students from nine universities around the world, including Puerto Rico
and Japan, are taking part in this year's summer research program at the
University of Delaware's Disaster Research Center (DRC).
Havid??n Rodr??guez, deputy provost, said he believes the center's
summer research experience for undergraduates (REU) is beneficial to
both the University and the students who take part.
The University of Delaware is privileged to have the oldest and one
of the leading social science disaster research centers in the world,
Rodr??guez said. For the past 45 years, DRC researchers have pioneered
work focusing on the societal and organizational aspects of disasters
and have had a strong impact on the growth and development of the field
The DRC-REU allows us to continue to expand and strengthen the
reputation, prominence, and contributions of the University of
Delaware's DRC in these important areas of inquiry. Moreover, the REU
program epitomizes the importance of the DRC and the University of
Delaware in the disaster research field, both nationally and
In the program, students work with leading scholars and researchers
on state-of-the-art research projects that focus on issues such as
disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, warnings and
technology, and disaster vulnerability and resilience.
Rodr??guez said it is noteworthy that this is the only program of its
kind in the country, and it is funded by the National Science
Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the University of Delaware.
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
Sharon Jefferson of the American Red Cross addresses the Disaster Research Center class.
Brittany Scott, a master's degree student and research assistant with
the DRC, explained, The goal of our program is to train the next
generation of disaster researchers. We hope that this experience will
encourage their interest in the field and help them in their future
academic endeavors. We want to expose them to both the academic and
practitioner side of the disaster field so they engage in classes on
research and have presentations by a variety of speakers involved in
emergency management, research, emergency response and preparedness.
Lauren Barsky, a doctoral level student assisting with the DRC
program, talked about the educational process for students in the summer
program. In the early weeks of the program students participate in
morning sessions on research methods and social science aspects of
disasters, she said. In the afternoon the students learn about DRC
projects or hear presentations from leading disaster scholars and
practitioners through the Invited Speakers Series. Toward the end of
summer, students focus mainly on their own independent research
The class will take a trip to Broomfield, Colo., for the Natural
Hazards Research and Application Workshop. The workshop has
representatives from many sectors (private, public, non-profit), and
various disciplines and encourages provocative discussions on issues
facing the disaster community, Barsky said.
Among the students participating in the DRC summer program is David
Garcia, a rising junior psychology student from Loyola University in New
Orleans who is studying the 2003 Rhode Island nightclub fire that
claimed 100 lives. Garcia said he chose to join the program because I
thought it would be a good experience, and I wanted to broaden my
horizons when it comes to my studies, just to know what all is out there
and the different options within the psychology field.
Garcia said he has gained hands on experience and that just being
able to write my own paper and do my own research is a huge learning
Elisa Kropat, a senior studying civil engineering at the University
of Delaware, is conducting research on earthquake triggered landslide
hazard mapping, to develop maps that can predict whether a slope or
landmass will slide due to a certain magnitude of earthquake. Kropat is
focusing her studies on a specific region in southern California.
I'm hoping just to get experience in research and what the research
process is about in hopes that it will prepare me for graduate school,
Kropat said, adding that disaster research is important because
there's a lot of damage and destruction caused by disasters, to
infrastructure and to human life, and if we can help mitigate that
damage, that would be a really good thing.
Robin Cassedy, a rising senior from the University of Denver who
studies political science, heard about the Disaster Research Center
through an email sent out by her major adviser and said she jumped at
Cassedy is studying media coverage of the Haiti earthquake,
specifically looking at the media's possible tendency to perpetrate
gender stereotypes in their coverage of Haiti, specifically through
Cassedy said she got interested in disaster research because it's
very strange to me that humans can consider themselves masters of the
planet but we're still very much at the mercy of Mother Nature. The
social science aspect of it and the political aspect of it really
interest me because disasters expose huge weaknesses in our social
Emmanuel Martinez, a sociology student at the University of Puerto
Rico in Mayaguez, is studying stranger aid phenomenon in the 2003 Rhode
Island nightclub fire. The phenomenon concerns how strangers in a fire
or another hazard feel like helping others and try to save their lives
without knowing them, he said. It is known that people who are
together, who are friends, will try to help each other, will try to get
out together, but if we don't know each other, it's not the same.
Martinez said he was drawn to disaster research because he feels
like helping people, and everyday we see different disasters and how the
need for knowing how to react to different disasters is important.
We're seeing how hazards and emergencies are occurring and we need to
know how to react.
Article by Adam Thomas
Photos by Ambre Alexander
Originally publsihed by UDaily.