DRC Alumni Profiles: 34


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Zackery R White

DEGREE: 2024, Ph.D., Epidemiology

JOB TITLE: Research Analyst, Unite Us

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Christopher Tharp

DEGREE: 2023, Ph.D., Political Science and International

JOB TITLE: ,

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Colten James Strickland

DEGREE: 2022, Ph.D., Epidemiology

JOB TITLE: COVID-19 Epidemiology and Surveillance Manager, San Francisco Department of Public Health

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Yajaira I. Ayala

DEGREE: 2022, Ph.D., Disaster Science & Management

JOB TITLE: ,

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Samantha Penta

DEGREE: 2017, Ph.D., Sociology

JOB TITLE: Assistant Professor, University at Albany, State University of New York

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Anthony Cario

DEGREE: 2016, M.S., Disaster Science and Management

JOB TITLE: Project Lead, IT Team, All Hands and Hearts

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Paige Fitzgerald

DEGREE: 2016, M.S., Disaster Science and Managemen

JOB TITLE: Senior Administrator, Delaware Emergency Management Agency

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Juan Camilo Sánchez Gil

DEGREE: 2016, Ph.D., Disaster Science and Management

JOB TITLE: Professor, Universidad de Antioquia

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Mary (Maggie) Nelan

DEGREE: 2016, Ph.D., Sociology

JOB TITLE: Assistant Professor, University of North Texas

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Benjamin D. Wallace

DEGREE: 2016, M.S., Disaster Science and Management

JOB TITLE: International Practice Coordinator, SPIN Global

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Hsien-Ho (Ray) Chang

DEGREE: 2015, Ph.D., Disaster Science and Management

JOB TITLE: Assistant Professor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide

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Alex Greer

DEGREE: 2015, Ph.D., Disaster Science and Management

JOB TITLE: Assistant Professor, University at Albany, State University of New York

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DRC Alumni Profiles: 34


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Colten James Strickland

DEGREE: 2022, Ph.D., Epidemiology

JOB TITLE: COVID-19 Epidemiology and Surveillance Manager, San Francisco Department of Public Health

Colten J. Strickland is the COVID-19 Epidemiology and Surveillance Manager for the San Francisco Department of Public Health.  He received his BS in Philosophy with a minor in Peace and Justice Studies from Utah Valley University in 2013, his MPH in Disaster Management from Tulane University in 2015, and his PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Delaware in 2022.  Colten was the founding doctoral student of the Epidemiology program at the University of Delaware and first epidemiology student of the DRC.  During his program, Colten responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in his role as the lead COVID-19 Epidemiologist for the Delaware Division of Public Health from 2021-2022 and as a COVID-19 Epidemiologist for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health from 2020-2021.  Prior to the start of his program, Colten was a Public Health Associate (Class of 2016) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He was assigned to the Multnomah County Health Department in Portland, Oregon where he worked on childhood immunizations.  Colten has several years of experience working in governmental public health.  His research largely focuses on applied epidemiology, disaster epidemiology, and environmental health.  His dissertation is titled “A Review of COVID-19-Associated Mortality in the City of Philadelphia Over the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic.”  Colten is an active and supportive member of the LGBTQ+ community.
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Yajaira I. Ayala

DEGREE: 2022, Ph.D., Disaster Science & Management

JOB TITLE: ,

Yajaira is a Ph.D. student in the Disaster Science and Management program. She earned her Master’s degree in Disaster Studies from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley where she also worked as a Research Assistant. During this time she worked at the Department of Health and Biomedical Sciences researching mechanisms to address health and social disparities in vulnerable populations of the US-Mexico border. Yajaira’s educational and research backgrounds have provided her with a rich understanding of the social conditions that exacerbate vulnerability in times of disasters. As she continues her education, her interests still lie in social inequality, vulnerability, and resilience.
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Christopher Tharp

DEGREE: 2023, Ph.D., Political Science and International

JOB TITLE: ,

Christopher is a doctoral candidate in the department of political science and international relations. In his dissertation, he asks: “What might sovereignty mean in a place without formal state sovereignty or national self-determination?” He attempts to locate sovereignty in its diversity of articulations by examining the specific postcolonial context of Puerto Rico, theorizing sovereignty as a political-economic process rather than mere status. Hurricane Maria exposed poverty, environmental injustice, and differential vulnerability; but since the Verano Boricua mass unrest in 2019, a debate has opened for the need for a left-wing, anti-austerity transformation of the island based on a new politics—the people mobilized against the establishment. Christopher has presented his research on emergency politics and disaster neoliberalism at domestic and international conferences. He is affiliated with the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware because of his interdisciplinary focus on disaster governance. Christopher has studied emergency management through Delaware Emergency Management Agency. He is presently serving as Treasurer for the University of Delaware Chapter of the International Association of Emergency Managers.
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Zackery R White

DEGREE: 2024, Ph.D., Epidemiology

JOB TITLE: Research Analyst, Unite Us

Zackery White recently received his Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Delaware, where he worked to complete his project “Common biases in studying the long-term health effects of disasters: challenges & potential solutions.” While there, Zack was awarded the University of Delaware’s Doctoral Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching. Currently, he works at a health technology company, Unite Us, designing research studies examining the efficacy of their work in local communities.

Alumni Engagement

Alumni are the university’s most valuable resources. By investing your time, talent and treasure, you make a deep impact that increases the value of a University of Delaware degree. View some of the ways we keep engaged below.

DRC 2019 07 NHW Alumni Reception

ABOVE: DRC faculty, students and alums at the Annual DRC Alumni Reception, 2019.

Each year DRC hosts the Annual DRC Alumni Reception at the Natural Hazards Workshop! This is a great opportunity to meet DRC alums and to connect/reconnect with old and new friends.

Share Your Knowledge

Each semester, we welcome our alumni to share their work, research, and experiences with our students. Whether they join us in person or virtually, our current students are always excited to hear from those in the expansive network of DRC alumni from around the world. Reach out to drc-mail@udel.edu! We would love to hear from you.

Inspire the Future

Our alumni value providing hands-on experiences for our students, be it through practicums, internships, and invitations for students to come and share their innovative research with the alum’s organization. Some have even designated awards to support students through assistantships, summer internship stipends, and travel support to attend conferences. Contact us at drc-mail@udel.edu if you have an idea of how you want to support this next generation of scholars and practitioners.

Stay Connected

Stay connected to DRC by following the Disaster Research Center on Facebook and on Twitter, signing up for the DRC Dispatch newsletter, and updating your contact information to help us better communicate with you.