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DRC Research

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DRC has a well-established research tradition, built on a strong foundation in the social sciences; rich interdisciplinary research; a capacity for quick response field research; and a culture of collaboration between faculty, staff, and graduate and undergraduate students. Building on this rich history, DRC continuously enhances its research activities.

Spotlight: Interdependencies in Community Resilience

​​Nepal, May 2015

New Horizons in Disaster Research

Natural hazards engineering and disaster science more broadly have evolved into a multitude of highly specialized disciplines, each dedicated to handling a subset of the overall challenge of mitigating the effects of natural hazards. While progress in each discipline has varied by the historical size of its research community and amount of resources devoted to it, a common observation is that computational research is widespread in all fields. DRC graduate research assistant Matthew Saponaro, Computer Science Ph.D. student, is working closely with DRC faculty member Ben Aguirre to develop interdisciplinary computational models (simulations). Aguirre and Saponaro focus on replicating the events of a Rhode Island Social Nightclub fire where a significant amount of people died contradictory to existing models. The developed models provide insight on people’s behaviors in fire evacuations. By computationally modeling the nightclub, support for hypothetical event timelines may be easily developed without investing costly resources to physically reenact the fire. Then, by using the supporting evidence, researchers may conclude why the actual number of deaths was drastically different than the existing model's predictions. Read more about active DRC research projects.

Spotlight: Victor Perez, DRC Affiliate Faculty

Wilmington, DE 2016

Knowledge & Concern for Sea Level Rise in an Urban Environmental Justice Community

Victor Perez's recent research project began as the sociological component of an interdisciplinary study examining how sea level rise may interact with known environmental hazards in the soil in environmental justice communities. More specifically, Perez focused on the eastside and south Wilmington which have legacies of industry that left many brownfields, or hazardous areas with known or perceived contaminants that may cause human health issues for local residents. This Sociological Forum publication spells out this innovative approach to how climate change will disproportionately impact communities with legacies of environmental burdens, but it takes it a step further to gauge the way that the community of Southbridge understands the impact of the local hazards on their health, and how they understand the potential impact of sea level rise in the area. 

One actionable item from this research is the need to begin aggressive educational outreach for climate change in the community, as it will better inform the residents of the potential for contaminant mobility, but also, and possibly even more importantly, because cleanup of most contaminated properties on the western part of South Wilmington is being driven by the desire to revitalize the economy there. Community involvement in these legacy contaminant cleanup efforts, as well as plans to control flooding and plan for short- and long-term climate change impacts is crucial for residents of Southbridge.  If the community is not involved and prioritized, economic displacement - or "green gentrification" - is a real possibility. For a more in-depth discussion of the research, read the full article here.

DRC Research Funding

Nepal, November 2015

​​​​​Since its founding over 50 years ago, DRC activities have been supported by diverse sources, including: National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Grant Program, Social Science Research Council (SSRC), and Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI).

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DRC Research
  • Disaster Research Center
  • University of Delaware
  • 166 Graham Hall, 111 Academy Street
  • Newark, DE 19716 U.S.A
  • Email: drc-mail@udel.edu
  • Phone: 302-831-6618