Professors knowledgeable in hurricane science, research and impact available during hurricane season
TAMPA, Fla. (May 28, 2014) – With the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season set to begin this week, University of South Florida professors from a wide-range of fields can be available to share their expertise with media organizations throughout the season.
Though scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict a near-normal or below-normal season, the same forecast calls for up to 13 named storms.
Whether the impact from those storms is felt in Florida, other parts of the United States or internationally, USF faculty members have a great depth of knowledge across various disciplines.
Many of USF’s hurricane experts are international leaders in their field who have gathered unique insights into hurricane preparation, evacuation and storm science. In addition, USF researchers have explored the socioeconomic and psychological dimensions of hurricanes, including the impact of storms on Florida’s vulnerable populations, the role of social media and disaster planning issues.
Hurricanes, Wind, Storm Surge and Coastal Subsidence
· Robert Weisberg (College of Marine Science) studies ocean circulation and ocean-atmosphere interaction in the tropics, on continental shelves and in estuaries. Predicting hurricane storm surge, the accompanying waves, and the damage that may be caused by these is his area of expertise. A Distinguished University Professor, he directs a coastal ocean observing and modeling system for the west Florida continental shelf. He has served as a member of the National Research Council Committee on the New Orleans Regional Hurricane Protection System and is familiar with the destruction that occurred along the Mississippi coast. His simulations (with USF colleague Lianyuan Zheng) of storm surge scenarios for the greater Tampa Bay region may be found at http://ocgweb.marine.usf.edu. Along with hurricane storm surge, Weisberg can comment on tropical ocean currents, sea surface temperature, and the relationship between these factors and climate.
· Albert C. Hine (College of Marine Science) is a geological oceanographer and coastal geologist who has lectured extensively to the public and to university students about the hazards presented to coastal zone management by high energy events particularly along sandy, barrier island coastal systems. He has provided testimony to a U. S. House Subcommittee about how the nation should accommodate eroding coastlines and migrating tidal inlets.
· Lianyuan Zheng (College of Marine Science) focuses on numerical simulations of circulation and water quality over the continental shelf, coastal ocean and estuaries. Zheng applies the high-resolution Finite Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FVCOM) to simulate storm surge in Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor.
· Jennifer Collins (School of Geosciences) is an associate professor whose research on weather and climate investigates tropical climatology and hurricane activity. She is currently studying the environmental factors influencing the variation of hurricane activity in the North Atlantic and Eastern North Pacific. She works closely on projects with the National Weather Service involving weather and hazards. Collins is the president of the West Central Florida Chapter of the American Meteorological Society (WCFLAMS), and she is the chair of the Association of American Geographers’ Climate Specialty Group.
· Rebecca Wooten (Department of Mathematics and Statistics) is a statistician working in environmental studies. She has several publications in the subject area, one of which reanalyzes the Saffir-Simpson Scale which describes different strength hurricanes with links to specific storms. Her research also includes a project to develop a new weather generator that will more accurately predict the track of a storm and a project examining statistical analysis of tornado activity by day of the year in the United States, with the goal of advancing how we see and predict tornados. Her current research also covers topics in hurricanes, floods, sinkholes, and risk management in natural disasters and she is also working on predicting the duration of a storm and determining the best indicators of a storm – pressure or temperatures.
· Timothy Dixon (School of Geosciences) is a professor who uses satellite geodesy (GPS, InSAR) to study coastal subsidence as well as earthquake and volcano deformation, aquifer depletion, and melting of ice sheets and glaciers. He can talk about the effects of hurricanes as they relate to coastal flooding and long term changes in the coastline. Dixon is director of the Natural Hazards Network at USF. He received his PhD in Earth Science from the University of California, San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America, and was a Distinguished Lecturer for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.
· Ping Wang (School of Geosciences) is an associate professor and director of USF’s Coastal Research Laboratory. Wang’s research focuses on coastal geology, wave and current dynamics and the erosion of Gulf of Mexico beaches that occur during strong storm surges.
Socioeconomic Impact of Disasters
· Graham A. Tobin (School of Geosciences) studies the social, economic and political aspects of natural disasters focusing particularly on risk, vulnerability, and resilience. In addition to work on hurricanes in Florida, he has under taken research on floods in California, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Idaho, and the UK; volcanoes in Ecuador and Mexico; and earthquakes in New Zealand.
Hurricanes and Children
· Judith Becker Bryant (Department of Psychology) can comment on how to prepare children for traumatic events, such as hurricanes, and the impact that such events have on children. She is a national expert on developmental psychology, with a specific emphasis on language and social development in young children.
Community Safety and Worker Fatigue
· Robert Nesbit (Director, USF OSHA Training Institute Education Center) can comment on hurricane-related safety issues and health issues, and worker fatigue. The Center, based at the College of Public Health, offers training in the hazards associated with cleaning up debris; temporary roof repairs; dealing with downed power lines, fallen trees and portable power generators; safe use of chainsaws; and heat stress. He also can speak to the issue of adequate training for public and private sector employees responsible for restoring utilities and removing debris left by storms. More information is available at www.USFSafetyFlorida.com and www.usfoticenter.org.
Hurricanes and the Elderly
· Amanda Smith (USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute, Medical Director) studies how the stress of an impending natural disaster like a hurricane impacts the elderly, including those with memory disorders or other neuropsychiatric disorders. For those with dementia, news of a hurricane or its aftermath can have a particularly disorienting effect and aggravate behavioral problems, she says. Smith volunteered in Port Charlotte as part of an Area Agency on Aging assessment team following Hurricane Charley in August 2004.
· Lisa Brown (School of Aging Studies, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences) is professor who conducts research on the impact of evacuations, electrical outages and other service disruptions, on elders, especially in long-term care settings (nursing homes, assisted living facilities). She has published extensively about vulnerable elders and the structure of emergency response systems. Hyer has also received federal funding to examine the morbidity and mortality resulting from evacuations of nursing home residents in Louisiana and Texas. Hyer received foundation funding to develop material for nursing homes and assisted living facilities to improve their emergency preparedness and response during disasters.
· Kathryn Hyer (School of Aging Studies, Florida Policy Exchange Center on Aging, Director) is a professor and conducts research on the impact of evacuations, electrical outages and other service disruptions on elders, especially in long-term care settings (nursing homes, assisted living facilities). She has written and published extensively about vulnerable elders and the structure of emergency response systems. Hyer has also received federal funding to examine the morbidity and mortality resulting from evacuation of nursing home residents in Louisiana and Texas.
Community Preparedness and Recovery
· Robin Ersing (School of Public Affairs) is an associate professor who studies community-based disaster preparedness to promote resilience in post-storm recovery. She is a trained and active Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member with Tampa Fire Rescue and an expert on vulnerabilities in under-resourced and lower-income communities. Dr. Ersing is currently exploring the role of volunteer citizen responders to support the relief and recovery efforts of impacted communities. Ersing has been involved in international research in Ghana to study the experience of women exposed to natural hazards. She is also a member of ICAD (International Communities Active in Disasters), examining the impact of disaster preparedness and recovery on limited English proficiency (LEP) populations in urban and rural communities. She is the author of “Surviving Disaster: The Role of Social Networks,” a tool for disaster planning and relief efforts. The book covers the basics of disaster response and the role of social networks, providing essential terminology, theories, analysis, and case examples, with descriptions of methods that worked and did not work for a variety of populations facing different types of disasters within and outside the United States.
· Cynthia Johnson (Florida SBDC at Pinellas County Economic Development) is a certified Business Continuity Professional, certified Economic Development Finance Professional and Center Director for the Florida SBDC at PCED in Clearwater, FL. In the event of a disaster, Johnson will coordinate the deployment of FSBDC’s 38-foot RV equipped with laptops, printers, satellite communications and supplies to deliver on-the-spot disaster recovery assistance. Additionally, she will also help business owners work through forms and applications needed in the recovery process.
Disaster Management Training/Public Health Impacts of Natural Disasters
· Thomas Mason (College of Public Health) is a professor of environmental and occupational health who has extensive experience in disaster preparedness training. He was co-director of the Homeland Security for Medical Executives Course (HLSMEC), which prepares senior medical officers, senior staff and civilian executive medical managers to meet the challenges and complexities of a natural disaster or a chemical, biological, radiologic, nuclear or explosive disaster in the U.S. and its territories. He maintains close ties with all uniformed services to stay current on their plans for preparedness and response. In response to the Federal Government’s request for a National Response Plan, he led the team which developed Florida’s All Hazards Preparedness Plan, addressed a statewide laboratory capacity strategic assessment, which included surge capacity; and developed a template for Florida’s Smallpox Preparedness Plans in 2002. He was commissioned at the CDC in 1967, and most recently served as a Captain (0-6) in the U.S. Public Health Service Ready Reserve as a Special Consultant on the Epidemiology of Disasters and Injury Response for the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Injury Response, and also Special Assistant for Environmental Health, Division of Health Studies, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/ Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry.
Communication During Disasters
· Mariaelena Bartesaghi (Department of Communication) is a discourse and communication scholar who analyzes how language in use creates or constructs disaster in public consciousness. She is currently the Principal Investigator on a National Communication Association grant on risk and reframing public policy and was a faculty mentor for an NSF “Undergraduate Research Experience on Hurricanes and Other Disasters” conducted through the USF Honors College. She has studied Hurricane Katrina using discourse analysis to look closely at how coordination is accomplished during a disaster. Discourse analysis analyzes talk in interaction and the connection of talk to understanding and action. Bartesaghi’s recent presentations and publications in this subject area include, “What does ‘coordination’ mean? Hurricane Katrina and disaster metadiscourse,” “Defining (the concept of) Risk,” in POROI: Project for the Rhetoric of Inquiry, “Metacommunication in Katrina Teleconferences: Reporting in the Construction of Problems” (Top Four Paper at the International Communication Association) and headlining spotlight panel of disaster scholars at the upcoming National Communication Conference in November 2014.
Social Media and Storms
· Kelli Burns (School of Mass Communications) is an expert on social media. She can discuss the growing role Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media plays in natural disasters. She has studied extensively how social media is integrated into our lives and changes patterns of communication. She is the author of Celeb 2.0: How Social Media Foster Our Fascination with Popular Culture. Her research has appeared in numerous publications and she is often asked by media outlets to comment on and analyze social media issues.
The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 50 research university among both public and private institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving nearly 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.5 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.