The Natural Hazards Center, in partnership with the International Research Committee on Disasters (IRCD), and with funding from the National Science Foundation, convened its 2018 Researchers Meeting in Broomfield, Colorado on July 11 and July 12, 2018, which focused on improving rapid reconnaissance research and featured sessions designed to identify pressing research needs, better coordinate researchers and research teams, and improve data collection, sharing, and archiving. This year’s meeting, designed to convene researchers across disciplines, who recently received National Science Foundation RAPID grants, as well as those who have ongoing hazards and disaster related research projects, featured the Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities’ (CRGC) recent findings related to exposure to disasters in the Gulf States and long-term mental and behavioral health outcomes.

Dr. Rajeev Ramchand (RAND Corporation), who leads CRGC’s Health Sub Team, along with Dr. Matthew Lee (Louisiana State University), presented at the Researchers Meeting on Thursday morning on the latest results from The Survey of Trauma, Resilience, and Opportunity in Neighborhoods in the Gulf (STRONG), which was designed to assess the long-term mental and behavioral effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on residents in the Gulf Coast. It is a population-representative sample of 2,520 coastal residents surveyed April through August 2016, in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. Exposure to the spill, represented by resource loss attributed to the spill, was associated with positive screens for depression and anxiety.

In the aftermath of the 2017 Gulf Coast hurricane season, with National Science Foundation RAPID funding, Texas residents were re-interviewed, which aided the research team procure private support for follow-up interviews with respondents in the other states. These re-contacts provide insights into how exposure to the hurricanes contributed to mental and behavioral health outcomes. Such data can help policymakers and other stakeholders develop targeted approaches to foster resilience, particularly among vulnerable populations, and thereby mitigate the effects of future disasters.

Researchers provided responses to one of four guiding prompts associated with this year’s Researchers Meeting. When initiated by “Prompt 2″ [What has your research has revealed regarding team formation, rapid reconnaissance research coordination, or interdisciplinary collaboration?], CRGC shared the following response regarding its greater transdisciplinary team and the impactful results yielded in order to develop information and decision-support tools that are directly relevant to building resilience to future disaster:

“Hurricane Harvey made landfall in August 2017; by the next month, we had applied for and received National Science Foundation RAPID funding. The project builds upon an existing interdisciplinary team representing multiple institutions; we knew each other’s academic backgrounds and perspectives and had established efficient and productive ways to work together. That said, we were pressured to field the survey as quickly as possible but had to make critical decisions about survey length and content, mode of administration, and recruitment. Delays occurred due to procedural issues associated with subcontracting and other administrative requirements beyond researchers’ control. Such tasks are not always prioritized in tightly-resourced research projects and, as such, researchers assume these responsibilities as collateral duties that can hinder progress in significant ways. We have learned about the importance of project management for executing administrative tasks so that researchers can concentrate their efforts on tasks more in line with their backgrounds and training.”

Learn more about the 2018 Researchers Meeting here »