Our Beginning

In the mid-2000s, Dr. Lori Peek and Dr. Sammy Zahran shared a vision for a research center dedicated to understanding and mitigating the social impacts of hazards and disasters. In 2010, with funding support from Colorado State University, the two faculty members in the Department of Sociology founded the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis (CDRA).

As a team of two actively engaged co-directors, Peek and Zahran bring different but highly complementary strengths to CDRA. With a research focus on the demography of natural hazards, Zahran’s cutting-edge work is applicable to large populations. Peek’s case study-focused fieldwork involves interviewing children, women, ethnic minorities, and other vulnerable populations to understand how a disaster has impacted their lives. Together, Peek and Zahran are committed to building an interdisciplinary center dedicated to the analysis of risk and the human impacts of disaster.

Our Role at Colorado State University

CDRA is one of 12 Centers, Institutes, or Other Special Units (CIOSUs) in the College of Liberal Arts at Colorado State University that are recognized by the Office of the Vice President for Research. CIOSUs exist to “promote scholarship in teaching, training and/or research, provide academic support services, and/or perform service or outreach functions consistent with the mission of the University.”  Consistent with the Interdisciplinary mission of CDRA, “CIOSUs are units which extend beyond a single academic department.” Accordingly, CDRA currently engages faculty from several departments across four colleges at the University.

Our Legacy

The Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis builds on the work of Dr. Dennis Mileti (left) and Dr. Hal Cochrane (right). In 1984, Mileti and Cochrane formed the Hazard Assessment Laboratory (HAL). As co-directors of HAL, the two CSU faculty members trained a generation of hazards and disaster researchers and contributed to the public understanding of risk and disaster management.

Mileti and Cochrane secured more than $2 million in funding and published articles on risk perception, public response to warnings, and the social and economic costs of disaster. While at CSU, Mileti submitted the project grant for the Second Assessment of Hazards in the United States, which led to publication of his landmark text, Disasters by Design: A Reassessment of Natural Hazards in the United States.