I am a researcher in the field of community disaster response. I apply social psychology and ethnographic research to disaster preparedness and response. I’m particularly interested in how ordinary people rise to leadership in crisis situations.
My past projects in disaster research include studying ways to improve information flow from village health workers in Cambodia and Laos to support early detection of emerging infectious diseases, understanding technological adeptness of community-level disaster responders in California to integrate high- and low-tech tools for field work, and understanding communication behaviors of expert search-and-rescue teams.
My interest in improvised disaster response stems from my experience as a volunteer with the American Red Cross. In the past 16 years, I have deployed to such major disasters as Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan, and worked with government agencies and community organizations to prepare for and respond to local incidents. Throughout, I have seen first-hand that the vast majority of the people who respond to disaster are ordinary people who just happen to be there.