Education and Training

Outreach and training programs for future researchers, leaders, and experts, as well as for community members

University of South Alabama students present a poster at the 2017 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference, photo courtesy Alyssa Wood

University of South Alabama students present a poster at the 2017 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference

Photo courtesy Alyssa Wood

While pursuing their own undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees, more than 50 students have conducted hands-on research alongside CRGC’s diverse professional staff. Students analyze and manage data, review existing research, help develop new tools, present at conferences, and author peer-reviewed papers. They also train community health workers, conduct surveys, and otherwise engage with local communities that were affected by the oil spill.

CRGC offers a unique training environment that emphasizes transdisciplinary research methods and best practices. Because the impacts of disasters are overlapping and cascading, no single discipline has all the necessary expertise to conduct this type of research. CRGC also uses an adaptive systems approach to understanding community resilience that is difficult to replicate in a traditional discipline-focused academic environment. In short, CRGC is training the next generation of leaders and experts in how to build community resilience.

Our training also extends to local community members, not just academic researchers. One of our early efforts, described in the 2017 paper Training Community Health Workers to Enhance Disaster Resilience, helped to pave the way for an improved local response to COVID-19 three years later.

Transdisciplinary Mentoring

CRGC experts come from diverse fields. Working directly with experts outside their own fields of study enhances students’ insights about disaster, recovery, and resilience, while improving their problem-solving skills and passion for their work. In a past assessment of student involvement in CRGC,

  • More than 50% of our students said they worked with supervisors from an academic background different than their own.
  • 60% of the Ph.D. students indicated they had worked with supervisors from different institutions, widening their knowledge base and their professional network.
  • 90% of our students anticipated a career that involves interdisciplinary work.

Additionally, two of our students were recognized as GoMRI Scholars by CRGC’s original funder, the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.

Student Activities

Assessing the Economic Impact of Disasters
As a Ph.D. student from Tulane University’s Economic Analysis and Policy program, Dr. Jacqueline Fiore worked with RAND economists Drs. Shanti Nataraj and Craig Bond to study the Deepwater Horizon oil spill’s socioeconomic impacts on Gulf fisheries. Dr. Fiore is now an economist at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Collecting and Reviewing Scientific Literature
Graduate students at Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy have worked with Drs. Ky Luu, Laura Haas, and Reggie Ferreira, to create an annotated bibliography on resilience literature and review hazard management planning documents.
Laying the Foundation for the STRONG Survey
The STRONG survey seeks to assess Gulf residents’ current health and wellbeing. While a Ph.D. student in LSU’s Department of Sociology, Dr. Vanessa Parks worked as a summer associate at RAND’s Washington office, under the direction of Dr. Rajeev Ramchand. She was instrumental in laying the foundation for the design, administration, and analysis of STRONG and is now employed at RAND and continues her work with CRGC.
Analyzing Data
As a Ph.D. student at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, Amanda Edelman worked with Melissa Finucane, Andy Parker, and Holly Scheib to support data analysis for risk communication and evaluation studies.
Managing Data
As a Ph.D. student in LSU’s Department of Sociology, Leah Drakeford was the CRGC Data Manager. She was responsible for understanding GRIIDC data storage procedures and policies and helped to ensure that all CRGC data were compliant and publicly available.
Training Community Health Workers
Graduate students at the University of South Alabama’s Coastal Resource and Resiliency Center have worked with Keith Nicholls and Steven Picou to support the training and implementation of Community Health Workers in three coastal communities in Southeast Louisiana and Alabama.

Our Students

Many students have worked with and supported CRGC research over the years. These include:

  • Samer Atshan, Ph.D. candidate, Pardee RAND Graduate School (2022–present)
  • Leah Drakeford, Louisiana State University (2016-2019)
  • Amanda Edelman, M.Phil., Pardee RAND Graduate School (2018)
  • Margaret Chamberlin, Ph.D., Pardee RAND Graduate School (2018)
  • Jacqueline Fiore, Ph.D., Tulane University Department of Economics (2015–2018)
  • Betsy Lopez, M.S. candidate, Tulane University Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (2017)
  • Vanessa Parks, Ph.D., Louisiana State University (2015–2019)
  • Megha Patel, Ph.D., Tulane University City, Culture, and Community Program (2017)
  • Keagan Smith, University of South Alabama (2017)
  • Nicholas Thomas, Ph.D., Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (2017)
  • Alyssa Wood, University of South Alabama (2017)