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  • Olumide Abioye
    Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Olumide F. Abioye is a doctoral student at the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Florida A & M University-Florida State University College of Engineering. Abioye holds a Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) degree in Civil Engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Akure (Nigeria), and M.Sc. degree from Florida A&M University (Tallahassee, Florida, USA) in Civil Engineering with concentration in Transportation. His research interests include but are not limited to hazard mitigation, hazard preparedness, operations research, optimization, simulation modeling, metaheuristics, hybrid algorithms, transportation engineering, freight transportation, liner shipping scheduling, mathematical programming, and simulation modeling. 
    Abioye has been involved in a variety of research projects (valued at $1.1+ million), sponsored by
    United States Department of Transportation, Florida Department of Transportation, Center for Accessibility and Safety for an Aging Population, and the Institute of Successful Longevity. Currently, Abioye’s research focuses on the development of an efficient algorithm for efficient evacuation operations. Abioye has presented his research at several conferences and has won various competitions, fellowships, and scholarships. Abioye is a Bill Anderson Fund Fellow, David Dwight Eisenhower Transportation Fellow, and University Transportation Center doctoral fellow. He currently serves as the vice president of the big-bend student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers.
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  • Jennifer Blanks
    Department of Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning
    Jennifer Blanks is a doctoral student at Texas A & M University in the Urban Development and Regional Science program. Her research interests are understanding how geospatial technology is currently being used to improve long-term recovery for socially vulnerable populations following natural disasters such as nuisance flooding and hurricane flooding. More specifically, she is seeking to identify a practical technique that will monitor the recovery progress in real-time using innovative spatial technology. Her other research interests include analyzing the changes in land cover of historically African American cemeteries impacted by flooding from Hurricane Harvey throughout the state of Texas using remote sensing technology. Through her research, Jennifer wishes to encourage women, especially women of color, to learn and apply geospatial technology to increase their representation as GIS users across all academic and professional disciplines.
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  • Maggie Chamberlain
    Department of Sociology

    ​Maggie is pursuing a PhD in Sociology from Oklahoma State University with concentrations in Environmental Sociology, Social Movements, and GIS. She is a Texas State Alumna, with a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Her research interests involve environmental justice and equity in the disaster lifecycle, with a focus on disaster mitigation, preparedness and recovery. She is currently completing a manuscript regarding racial/ethnic diversity and pollution exposure in Houston and working on a project investigating coalition formation activities between student organizations. Maggie is also working on building the foundations of a dissertation on environmental justice in the context of disasters.

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  • Nancy Contreras
    Sociology & Criminal Justice

    ​Nancy Contreras is a criminology doctoral student at the University of Delaware. She earned her Master of Criminal Justice degree at the University of Colorado Denver, and her master’s thesis explored activist ideology, social media practices in organizing protests, and perceived community relations with law enforcement. Nancy also earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from California Lutheran University. She has previous practitioner experience in services for women experiencing homelessness, the juvenile justice system, and behavioral health outpatient care. Her additional academic work has focused on hate crimes and affirmative action. She is currently conducting a longitudinal, ethnographic study of a culture-specific program addressing the needs of urban Black youth and structural violence. Nancy’s research interests include intersectional criminology, race/ethnic inequality, culture, disasters, and community-based research.

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  • Donta Council
    School of Public Service
    Dontá Council is a doctoral student in Public Administration & Policy at Old Dominion University. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Jacksonville State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Old Dominion University. His previous professional work was in student affairs and nonprofit & grant management. His current research interests are in emergency and disaster management, nonprofit and public management, and social equity. Some of his recent research has focused on risk analysis of vulnerable communities in coastal communities. This research has been
    presented at the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management, the Virginia Sea Grant Graduate Symposium, and the Virginia Social Science Association. He is currently a doctoral scholar with the Southern Regional Education Board and is also a Bill Anderson Fund Fellow. 
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  • Lorita Daniels
    School of Public & International Affairs

    Lorita C. Daniels is currently a Ph.D. student in the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  She also holds a Master's degree in Public Administration from Valdosta State University. 

    Her research interests involve understanding how the implementation of public policies and administrative discretion may influence the level of public participation and public involvement efforts in community development projects.  Specifically, her dissertation will examine entitlement communities applying for federal funding to understand how local administrators are making decisions about the implementation of the federal mandate requiring public participation in local communities.   Her other related areas of research interest include disaster policy and planning, disaster recovery, disaster communities, emergency management, and collaborative governance.

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  • Benika Dixon
    School of Public Health

    Benika Dixon is a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) candidate in the School of Public Health at Texas A&M University. She holds a Master of Public Health degree from Southern Connecticut State University and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. Benika is a founding fellow of the William Averette Anderson Fund and previously served as the secretary and vice chairperson of the student advisory council. Benika currently serves as a lead teaching assistant for the newly developed MPH Core within the School of Public Health. The MPH Core is a case-based approach that not only provides a firm foundation for understanding the social machinery and scientific underpinnings of public health, but also flips the switch to put that machinery into action. 

    Prior to attending Texas A&M University, Benika served as a research associate for the Why Culture Matter Disaster Studies Project at Morgan State University. Her work as a research associate included the development of the Morgan State University Campus Emergency Response Team as well as partnering with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and several HBCUs to develop the HBCU Emergency Management Consortium. Her research interests include disaster related public health impacts on racial and ethnic minorities, health impacts on environmental justice communities, cultural diversity in the hazards/disaster workforce and more. 

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  • Oronde Drakes
    Geography & Sustainability Sciences

    Oronde Drakes is a doctoral student in the Department of Geographical and Sustainability Science at The University of Iowa, studying Geography. He is a Geoinformatics for Environmental and Energy Modeling and Prediction (GEEMaP) trainee funded by the National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT). Drakes holds a Masters of Environmental Hazards and Geographic Information Systems from the Coventry University and a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from the University of Guyana. His previous work focused on flood vulnerability mapping and the impact of sea level rise on the coastal defences of the Demerara Mahaica region of Guyana. Upon completing his M.Sc., Drakes worked as a GIS and Hazard Specialist Consultant for International Development Agencies and NGOs (eg. UNDP; WWF) and Guyana’s national hazard management agency, contributing to management plans for pristine national parks, wetlands studies, and hazard vulnerability profiles. He simultaneously functioned as a part time lecturer at the University of Guyana, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the School of Education and Humanities. 

    Drakes’ current research examines the local processes that produce social vulnerability in multi-hazard settings. His work investigates human–environment interactions that create social vulnerability at local scales, the relationship between multi-hazard exposure and susceptibility and the integration of qualitative data and methods into social vulnerability index construction.

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  • Cassandra Jean
    Department of Sociology & Criminology
    I am a Ph.D. Student at Howard University in the Department of Sociology and Criminology, where I’m majoring in Criminology and Social Inequality. I have a background in Public Policy and Administration, International Relations, and Criminal Justice. My research focuses on the Sociology of Poverty, mainly how natural disasters impact federal policy and the implications it has on the greater social and global stratification system. I am also interested in the Sociology of Suffering and its relationship with politics and the economy. My current research looks at the 2017 hurricane season and how Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma has impacted individuals in the U.S Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Houston/Beaumont,
    Texas, their recovery process, coping mechanisms, and hurricane preparedness.
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  • Heather Kirkland

    Heather Kirkland is a Bill Anderson Fund Fellow and Doctoral Candidate in Anthropology at American University in Washington D.C. While working on her Ph.D. part-time, she works full-time as a Budget Officer & Trainer with ten years of service at the university. Her project portfolio includes managing the budget for three units in academic affairs; designing training and curriculum on behalf of the finance division; emphasizing cross divisional collaboration to implement business intelligence and data governance tools. 

    Her overarching anthropological research focuses on mitigating the impacts of disasters on under-served communities in the United States. In 2012, she received an honorable mention from the National Science Foundation for her graduate research on disasters and trauma. 

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  • Natasha Malmin
    Andrew Young School of Policy Studies

    Natasha Prudent Malmin is a doctoral student within the joint public policy program at Georgia State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA. She holds a Master of Public Health degree from Emory University with a specialty in Global Environmental Health. Before entering the doctoral program, she worked for eight years within the field of public health, receiving several commendations and awards for her work with the Haiti Cholera epidemic and the 2014/15 Ebola outbreak.   Her research interests include participatory GIS mapping, social vulnerability, school recovery after disasters, and long-term community resilience. She is also interested in emergent collective warning systems before disasters, and the nexus between governance, health systems, and disaster management.

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  • Cristina Muñoz
    Geography & Sustainability Sciences

    Cristina E. Muñoz is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geographical & Sustainability Sciences at the University of Iowa. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Bryn Mawr College in an interdisciplinary program incorporating urban planning and environmental studies. Muñoz is originally from south central Los Angeles, California, and is a proud daughter of Salvadorian and Mexican parents. In Los Angeles, Muñoz was active in environmental justice efforts and was concerned for earthquake disasters. These experiences, in part, drove her research interest in the intersection of environmental justice and natural hazards, with particular interest to the needs of Latinos, Native American peoples, and other marginalized communities in the United States. 

    In her dissertation, Muñoz analyzes the distribution of federal disaster assistance across space and time. In particular, she integrates social vulnerability and social capital theory to help explain the distribution of disaster assistance. In her research she asks questions regarding the equitable distribution of disaster assistance for socially vulnerable communities, and whether social capital increases access to assistance for all.

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  • Antoine Richards
    Department of Emergency Management
    Antoine B. Richards is a Doctor of Science (DSc) student in Emergency Management at
    Jacksonville State University. Richards’s experience includes nearly a decade of work in the
    healthcare sector including public health, community health, community outreach, public
    affairs, and research. His research interests include the intersection of public health and
    emergency management, social vulnerability/social determinants of health, community
    resilience, community capacity building and sustainability.

    Currently, he serves as the Assistant Director of Research at Peacebuilding Solutions; a non-
    profit global humanitarian assistance organization with UN ESOSOC consultative status, and 
    serves on the Board of Advisors of the Georgia Trauma Foundation. Richards received his
    Master of Public Health from Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia and his BS in
    Communication from Kennesaw State University. He is a current member of the American
    Public Health Association and the International Association of Emergency Managers where he
    serves on the executive board of the Global Student Council.
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  • Cynthia Rivas
    Disaster Science & Management

    ​Cynthia H. Rivas is a doctoral candidate in Disaster Science & Management at the University of Delaware where she is a research assistant at the Disaster Research Center (DRC) and a member of the student chapter of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM). She holds a Master of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning degree from University of California, Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Science in Conservation & Resource Studies and Society & Environment from University of California, Berkeley. Her previous work focused on spatial analysis (GIS) in regards to environmental planning. Specifically using remotely sensed data such as Near Infrared and Lidar to identify high risk fire communities and classification of vegetation. During her master’s work she collaborated with Universities of Minho (Braga) and Fernando Pessoa (Porto) in Portugal to understand the dynamics between geology, culture, economics, and eco-tourism from an interdisciplinary perspective. After completing her M.L.A. she spent two years working at a modern art museum as a facilities security operation assistant focusing on understanding the built environment and making certain the appropriate measures to ensure the safety and security of people, its collections, objects, and the facility.

    Rivas’s current research focuses on interdisciplinary modeling and analysis of disaster consequences on health care systems, specifically long-term care facilities, at the city and county level. Her work involves understanding the role disaster plans play in long-term care facilities and city emergency management before, during, and after a disaster. She also researches the role of volunteered geographic information in disaster management. She served as a member of the Disaster Research Center team deployed for quick response field research in Houston, Texas, following the impacts of Hurricane Harvey.

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  • Joy Semien
    Department of Urban & Regional Science

    Joy Semien is currently a Ph.D. student at Texas A&M University studying Urban and Regional Sciences. Joy received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Dillard University (2015). While at Dillard, she studied and conducted research at the Marine Biological Laboratory (2013), in Gabon, Africa (2014), and Kingston, Jamaica (2012). She presented her research at conferences like the Emergent Research Nationals (2013-2015) and Ecological Society of America (2015). Joy also holds a master’s degree in Urban Planning and Environmental Policy from Texas Southern University (2017). While at TSU she completed a thesis entitled “Developing a Disaster Preparedness Tool Kit to Effectively Train the Community of Geismar, Louisiana in the Case of a Natural or Anthropogenic Disaster.” In addition, she worked with top researchers within the Barbara Jordan Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs as a graduate student conducting environmental justice research. 

    As part of her experience, Joy attended international conferences like the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris, France (2015) for the signing of the International Climate Agreement. Joy’s research interests are in building community capacity within multi-hazard communities. She is also interested in understanding the relationship that social capital plays in communities of low income and of color pre-post disaster impact.

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  • Danielle Sharpe
    Department of Epidemiology

    ​Danielle Sharpe is a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at Emory University. She holds a Master of Science degree in Epidemiology from the University of Florida and a Bachelor of Science degree in History, Technology, and Society with a concentration in the history of medicine from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research interests include infectious disease epidemiology, disaster epidemiology, vulnerable populations, and mHealth (mobile health). Currently, Danielle is interested in how people living with HIV are prepared for and respond to severe weather events.

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  • Melissa Villarreal
    Natural Hazards Center

    Melissa is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado, Boulder in the Department of Sociology and a Graduate Research Assistant in the Natural Hazards Center of the Institute of Behavioral Science. She previously attended Texas A&M University, College Station, where she received her bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2016. Melissa is interested in gender dynamics within the disaster cycle; particularly in the ways women experience unique challenges during disasters and disaster recovery. Her work explores how the perceived roles of women during disasters influence their experiences and thus their recovery. Additionally, she is now exploring other areas of interest within the broader topic of gender dynamics in hazards and disaster research. She is now a fellow for the Bill Anderson Fund—which is dedicated to advancing the success of minority professionals in the hazards and disasters field—and also serves on the Fund's Student Executive Committee as Co-Program Chair.

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  • Darien Williams
    Department of Urban Studies & Planning
    I work on a team investigating the role of human error in large-scale natural gas pipeline and electric grid infrastructure disturbances, supported by the NSF Critical Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Systems and Processes (CRISP 2.0) program. Some of our research attention has turned to the recent Merrimack Valley gas explosions in Massachusetts, which has moved us to conducting case studies of similar events across the US. 
    I also work on qualitative data analysis in the NIH-supported RISK Project (Resilience In Survivors of Katrina), a (~15 year) longitudinal investigation of narratives from Black mothers displaced by Hurricane Katrina. I’m doing work in portraying disaster volunteer experiences in the Florida Panhandle following Hurricane Michael in 2018, a project supported by the Natural Hazards Center’s Quick Response Grant Program. 
    I draw on years of experience in qualitative and quantitative sociologically-grounded work in racial & economic justice, climate-change adaptation, and disaster recovery to focus my attention and academic efforts towards understanding and empowering the populations who grapple with these planning challenges without the voyeuristic distance that characterizes many formal research efforts.
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  • John Aggrey
    Department of Sociology

    ​I am a graduate student at the Department of Sociology in Louisiana State University. My research interests span Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Sociology of Health where I focus on infectious diseases from a sociological/public health perspective and an STS perspective. I also approach Sociology of Disaster from this perspective with a focus on exploring the health hazards marginalized communities are exposed to in the wake of disasters and natural hazards and researching ways by which this can be mitigated. 

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  • Akilah Alleyne
    Sociology & Criminal Justice

    Akilah is a doctoral student at the University of Delaware studying Sociology and Criminal Justice. Her research focuses on understanding the joint effects of residential and school segregation on school completion. Specifically for housing unstable youth living in disaster regions. Akilah serves as BAF’s Executive Board Collaborative Community Initiative Co-Lead.

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  • Mojeed Bello
    Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

    ​Mojeed received the B.Tech. Degree in electrical and electronics engineering from the Kwara State Polytechnics, Nigeria in 2009, and the M.Eng. electrical and computer engineering from the Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland, United State of America, in 2017 respectively. In 2016, he joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland, the United State of America as a Teaching Assistance, and in 2018 joined as a team leader in Department of Energy And Environment, Washington D.C. Green Zone Environmental Program. Summer Youth Employment Program, Solar DC works. 

    His research interests include national disaster and protection, environmental engineering, power electronics, micro grid, renewable energy, power optimization, electrical machines and drives, active filters, flexible ac transmission systems, high-voltage dc, and power quality. Mojeed Bello is a Member of the IEEE International Conference on Power Electronics, Drives and Energy Systems, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 2007, Association of Owner Pilot American (AOPA) 2012, IEEE Computer and Engineering Society /Power and Energy Society 2016. 

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  • Tiffany Cousins
    School of Public & International Affairs

    Tiffany Cousins is a doctoral student at Virginia Tech studying Planning, Governance, and Globalization. Tiffany’s research focuses on the use of citizen science and crowd-sourced data to map localized/nuisance flooding. She is currently developing a platform where the data can be viewed by residents and modeled to influence flood policies.

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  • April Davison
    Urban Affairs & Public Policy

    ​I am a doctoral student at the University of Delaware in the Urban Affairs and Public Policy program. Before pursuing my doctorate, I obtained my bachelor’s degree in political science from Williams College and then my master’s in public administration from the University of North Texas. My research focuses on housing policy, identifying residential mobility patterns, and understanding how neighborhood conditions impact minority populations. I try to apply a local lens to my research, meaning my focus is on local policy and administrative endeavors. Some of my past research includes understanding the interconnections of housing and health where the goal is to address the mental and physical issues related to housing instability on populations. I am excited to be a member of the BAF in order to explore how community resiliency methods can be more effectively integrated into local planning policy to lessen post-disaster displacement and neighborhood succession.

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  • Jeannie Purchase
    Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Celine Robinson
    Civil & Environmental Engineering

    Celine is a doctoral student in Civil and Environmental Engineering in the Systems, Risk, and Decision study track at Duke University. In 2018, she obtained a Bachelor of Environmental Engineering from the University of Delaware with a concentration in Environmental Facilities Design and Construction and minors in Sustainable Infrastructure and Civil Engineering. 

    While attending the University of Delaware, her research focus primarily concerned understanding what factors affected homeowners’ decisions to participate in property acquisition programs following a disaster. This project aimed to develop both a predictive model and understand the importance of each of the property attributes, community factors, hazard experience factors, and socio-demographic characteristics analyzed. This work led to the publication of an article entitled “Homeowner acceptance of voluntary property acquisition offers”. Celine’s dissertation work at Duke will shift focus to a different mitigation option, and emphasize on the economics of the (re)insurance industry and how the decisions in the (re)insurance industry influence pricing and profitability in catastrophic risk markets.

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  • Danielle Thomas
    Civil & Environmental Engineering

    Danielle is a third year PhD Student in the Sustainable Water Development Program at the University of Iowa where she is advised under Witold Krajewski. Her research looks at probabilistic and hydrological models to predict and prevent floods. She is a GEM Associate Fellow and University of Iowa Graduate College Recruitment Fellow. Danielle holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering with a focus in Water Resources. Recently, Danielle was elected as the Diversity Chair for the Graduate and Professional Student Government. In this position, she aims to increase cultural competency across campus and bridge pathways to connect students of diversity, building a supportive community to help retain underrepresented groups at the university.

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  • Valerie Washington
    Industrial & Operations Engineering

    Valerie is a doctoral student at Michigan State University studying industrial and Operations engineering. She is interested in the applications of operations research and risk analysis to flood mitigation and hurricane evacuation decision making.

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  • Yvonne (Alex) White
    Forestry Department

    I am a doctoral student in the Forestry department at Michigan State University. I completed a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University in 2013. After graduation, I worked with several nonprofit organizations including Gateway Greening in St. Louis, MO, Community Rebuilds in Moab, UT, and Haw River Assembly in Bynum, NC. My research interests include invasive forest pest control, preserving and creating green space in cities, and environmental science and public policy. 

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