Education Initiatives

The Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities (CRGC) prepares students to become leaders and experts in community resilience. CRCG provides graduate and undergraduate students from the Gulf States with hands-on opportunities to work with trans-disciplinary research methods and best practices for addressing community disasters. Download CRGC’s 2-Pager about its  Student Initiatives.

Who Are Our Students?

As of January 2019, we have had more than 40 students work with us, hailing from the Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University, Pardee RAND Graduate School, Tulane University, and the University of South Alabama.

How Are Students Benefiting from CRGC’s Trans-disciplinary Commitment?

CRGC experts come from 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.

  • More than 50% of these students have worked with supervisors from an academic background different than their own.
  • 3 of the 5 Ph.D. students are working with supervisors from different institutions, widening their knowledge base and their professional network.
  • 90% of our students anticipate a career that involves interdisciplinary work.
  • 2 students have been recognized as GoMRI Scholars by CRGC’s funder

What Have CRGC Students Been Doing?

Transdisciplinary Connections Between Students and Mentors

  • Assessing the Economic Impact of Disasters: Jacqueline Fiore, a Ph.D. student in Tulane University’s Economic Analysis and Policy program, is working with RAND economists Drs. Shanti Nataraj and Craig Bond to study the Deepwater Horizon oil spill’s socioeconomic impacts on Gulf fisheries. Her work is highlighted here.
  • Collecting and Reviewing Scientific Literature: Undergraduate students in Tulane University’s Computer Science Department have been working with Dr. Brent Venable to review literature and to develop artificial intelligence methods to support a web portal for CRGC that matches stakeholders with relevant resilience resources. 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. Vanessa Parks, a Ph.D. student in LSU’s Department of Sociology completed a summer of training as a research associate at the RAND Corporation’s office in Washington, DC, under the direction of Dr. Rajeev Ramchand, RAND, Psychiatric Epidemiology. Vanessa was instrumental in laying the foundation for the design, administration, and analysis of STRONG. Her work is highlighted here.
  • Analyzing Data: Amanda Edelman, a Ph.D. student at the Pardee RAND Graduate School of Public Policy, is working with Drs. Melissa Finucane, Andy Parker, and Holly Scheib, to support data analysis for risk communication and evaluation studies.
  • Managing Data: Leah Drakeford, a Ph.D. student in LSU’s Department of Sociology, is the CRGC Data Manager. She is responsible for understanding GRIIDC data storage procedures and policies and is helping to ensure that all CRGC data is compliant.
  • Training Community Health Workers: Graduate students at the University of South Alabama’s Coastal Resource and Resiliency Center have worked with Drs. Keith Nicholls and Steven Picou to support the training and implementation of Community Health Workers in three coastal communities in Southeast Louisiana and Alabama.

GoMRI Student Initiative

CRGC launched a list serve for students from all GoMRI-funded consortia to use as a platform to connect with one another, and to facilitate their cross-institutional access to researchers and resources.

As part its Student Initiative, CRGC offered a webinar series for graduate students since Fall 2016. The goal of this series is to highlight themes of trans-disciplinary interest and increase professionalization. The series is open to any GoMRI-funded student and can be found on the CRGC website. Upcoming webinar topics include: “Communicating Your Research;” “Research Integration;” and “Applied Centers in Research Settings.” 

Past Webinars

September 2016 – The Work of Research: Exploring Cross-Sector Career Paths
November 2016 – Benefits and Challenges of Stakeholder Engagement
April 2017 – Women in Science and Research
September 2017 – Expert Spotlight Series: A Discussion with Dr. Chuck Wilson, GoMRI’s Chief Scientific Officer
October 2017 – Student Spotlight Series: Navigating the Grad School Process
April 2018 – The Benefits and Challenges of Interdisciplinary Research

Current CRGC Graduate Students

Margaret Chamberlin

Graduate Student and Research Assistant, Pardee RAND Graduate School

Margaret Chamberlin is a Ph.D. candidate at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and an assistant policy analyst at RAND. Her dissertation research employs mixed methods to better understand where and why breakdowns happen in long-term management of complex chronic conditions, using eating disorders and diabetes as case studies. Before RAND she worked as a health economist and policy advisor for the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 2011-2014.

Amanda Edelman

Graduate Student and Research Assistant, Pardee RAND Graduate School

Amanda Edelman is a Ph.D. candidate at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and an assistant policy analyst at RAND. Her research interests include city government and processes, policy implementation, STEM education, community resilience, climate change, and social network analysis. Her dissertation is investigating policy innovation and diffusion through major U.S. Cities.

Vanessa Parks

Graduate Student and Research Assistant, Louisiana State University

Vanessa Parks is a graduate student and research assistant at Louisiana State University. Her research interests include disaster resilience, health disparities, environmental sociology, and community development. She specializes in interdisciplinary health research, and she has participated in a number of needs assessments in vulnerable communities and several program evaluations related to health and education policies.

Recent Graduate

Jacqueline Fiore

Ph.D., Tulane University

Jacqueline Fiore recently received her Ph.D. from the Economic Analysis and Policy program with the Department of Economics at Tulane University. She specializes in applied microeconomics and her research interests include health economics, economics of disaster, development economics, and public policy. She has been working on the economic and health impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and is interested in the impact the oil spill had on firms and human mental health outcomes in Gulf Coast communities. She is continuing to work with her mentors as a post-grad, finalizing her ongoing CRGC research.


Tim Slack, Ph.D.


Louisiana State University, Department of Sociology

Tim Slack

Tim Slack is a professor in the Department of Sociology at Louisiana State University. His scholarly interests are in the areas of social stratification and social demography, with emphasis on forms of economic and spatial inequality. Recent and ongoing research projects include studies of working poverty and other forms of underemployment; household livelihood strategies, including participation in the informal economy; and various aspects of regional inequality.


Reggie Ferreira, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Tulane University, School of Social Work

Reggie Ferreira is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Tulane University. His research interests are in the areas of resilience, social vulnerability and intimate partner violence within a post disaster context. Current projects include social workforce capacity development, post disaster recovery and resilience within the context of disaster.