His research covered nearly every topic that is presently studied, sometimes only in a nascent form, but it is easy to see the intellectual origins of many ideas that scholars pursue now. Organizational change, emergence, volunteers, disaster mental health, emergency operations centers, warnings, evacuations, and emergency medical care among other subjects all form part of the vast corpus of research that undergirds modern disaster science.
His last work remains in progress, a broad survey of the popular culture of disaster that he worked on with Ian Davis. Professor Quarantelli was long interested in the representation of disasters in music, art, folklore, and film. His theoretical approach in symbolic interactionism was on display: how did these representations reflect how a local population understood the disaster and drew it into their collective experience? How did it shape the awareness of those who were not there? He always hoped that someone would tackle popular culture in more detail. Perhaps someone will.
His research is widely known. Indeed, he is credited with over 400 authored, coauthored, edited, or coedited publications, including over 200 published articles, 19 books and monographs, and over 150 peer-reviewed DRC preliminary papers that continue to be frequently downloaded and cited. He tackled questions central to the core of the field, including edited volumes that explored the very definition of "What is a Disaster" and he outlined the features distinguishing emergencies from disasters and disasters from catastrophes. Yet some of his work is known only in a smaller circle, such as his development of cooperative relationships with scholars in Japan, beginning some thirty years ago and persisting to this day. The field is young enough that today's senior scholars were around for much of its development, but newer scholars may not know the provenance of certain fixtures of our intellectual lives. His work with colleagues in establishing the International Research Committee on Disasters, part of the International Sociological Association, and the founding of the International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, have provided an important infrastructure for scholarly communication. Because IJMED is freely available online, it serves as a vital resource for the practice and policy communities.
His lifelong collaboration with Russell Dynes, of course, is a part of that personal and professional history and part of the history of disaster research, a unique partnership that is a preeminent example of teamwork in science. Their collaboration points to an overall benefit of intellectual partnerships and a testimony to discovery as a social enterprise. Though they were both sociologists, their interests were diverse: Dynes was a sociologist of religion, while Quarantelli's dissertation was on the professionalization of dentistry. Indeed, perhaps as much as their scientific findings, their work together should stand as an example for others, an example that is even more urgent as academic work moves even further toward interdisciplinarity.