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NC State Leads Effort to Create ‘Next Generation’ of Experts on Hazards and Natural Disasters

Highlighting North Carolina State University’s leadership in hazard and disaster studies, NC State’s Dr. Thomas Birkland was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to lead a nationwide effort to recruit and mentor young researchers to study disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The effort will focus on pairing newly minted Ph.D.s in the social sciences and engineering with a team of experienced mentors from eight universities to work on disaster- and hazard-related studies. Mentors will come from political science, planning, geography, sociology, and other disciplines that contribute to understanding how disasters affect communities.

Birkland says the project, called “Enabling the Next Generation of Hazards and Disaster Researchers,” is significant because many of the existing experts in the field are “getting close to retirement. We need well-trained experts to apply existing knowledge to major disasters like Katrina and September 11.” The grant is for $236,000 over two years.

The new effort builds on the first two rounds of this project, led by researchers at Texas A&M University in 1996-1998, and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2002-2004.

“The next generation is important,” Birkland says, “because it can provide needed expertise to better understand the causes and impacts of disasters.” Birkland, the William T. Kretzer Professor of Public Policy in NC State’s School of Public and International Affairs, said his own success in the field was enhanced by his participation in these two earlier projects. Furthermore, “because North Carolina is a national leader in disaster preparedness, this program is particularly valuable to our state,” Birkland says.

– shipman –

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