Doctoral Dissertations

Elaina Jennings. 2015. "A Multi-Objective Community-Level Seismic Retrofit Optimization Combining Social Vulnerability into an Engineering Framework for CommunityResiliency." Doctoral Dissertation, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado State University. (Dissertation Chair: Professor John W. van de Lindt)

This dissertation presents a multi-objective optimization framework for community resiliency by providing decision maker(s) at the local, state, or other government level(s) with an optimal seismic retrofit plan for their community’s woodframe building stock. A genetic algorithm was selected to perform the optimization due to its robustness in multi-objective problem solving. In the present framework, the algorithm provides a set of optimal community-level retrofit plans for the woodframe building inventory based on the socio-demographic characteristics of the focal community, Los Angeles, California. The woodframe building inventory was modeled using 37 archetypes designed to several historical and state-of-the-art seismic design provisions and methodologies. The performance of the archetypes was quantified in an extensive numerical study using nonlinear time history analysis. Experimental testing was conducted at full scale on a three-story soft-story woodframe building. The experimental testing investigated the seismic performance of several retrofit strategies for use in the framework, and the results were used in development of a metric correlating inter-story drift limits with damage states used in the framework. A performance-based retrofit design is presented in detail, and the experimental testing results of four retrofits are provided as well.

The algorithm uses each archetype’s seismic performance to identify the set of optimal community-level retrofit plans to enhance resiliency by minimizing four objectives: initial cost, economic loss, number of morbidities, and recovery time. In the model, initial cost sums the cost of each new retrofit, economic loss incorporates direct and indirect costs; the number of morbidities includes injuries, fatalities, and persons diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and a recovery time is estimated and may be used to represent the loss in quality of life for the affected population. The framework was calibrated to the estimated losses from the 1994 Northridge earthquake. An application of the framework is presented using Los Angeles County as the community. Two forecasted populations are also examined using the census data for Daly City, California and East Los Angeles to further exemplify the framework. Analyses were conducted at six seismic intensities. In all illustrative examples, the total financial loss (e.g., initial cost + economic loss) was higher for the initial population (i.e. un-retrofitted community). When combining this financial savings with the reduced number of morbidities, it is clear that the higher initial cost associated with retrofitting the woodframe building stock greatly outweighs the risks and losses associated with not retrofitting. The results also demonstrated how retrofitting the existing woodframe building stock greatly reduces estimated losses, especially for very large earthquakes. The resulting losses were further investigated to demonstrate the important role that the mental health of the population plays in a community’s economy and recovery following disastrous events such as earthquakes. Overall, the results clearly demonstrate the necessity in including social vulnerability when assessing or designing for community-level resiliency for a seismic hazard.

 

 


 

Phoenix Mourning-Star. 2014 "Using Poppy Oil For Energy In Afghanistan: A Life Cycle Assessment And Diffusion Of Innovations Approach Toward Sustainable Livelihood Development." Doctoral Dissertation, Department of Ecology, Colorado State University. (Dissertation Chair: Professor Kenneth F. Reardon)

 

The past 10 years of war in Afghanistan, which was preceded by nearly 40 years of conflict, has brought Afghanistan to an interesting crossroads. Instability and lack of infrastructure have led to challenges in resource governance increase community resilience. Research and development are urgently needed in Afghanistan to create solutions to meet the humanitarian needs of people in developing and post-disaster/conflict areas in order to promote and maintain stability. In the past, many issues facing the country, such as poverty, illiteracy, and food insecurity, were discussed as if they were disconnected and separate challenges. Yet, the cornerstone in discussions of development in Afghanistan almost always focuses on agriculture and the impact of Papaver somniferum, poppy, cultivation for the production of opium and heroin while ignoring non-traditional solutions. For example, poppy seeds contain a large fraction of oil, which is practical as a fuel. Oil from poppy can be used to provide rural farmers (approximately 75% of Afghan citizens) with a straight vegetable oil energy source to power slow diesel generators for village electrification.

In this study, I address the need for development in Afghanistan by investigating the potential for using poppy seeds as a mechanism for transitioning farmers to alternative livelihoods. In this approach I address three key issues by showing, first, that the oil extracted from poppy seeds is a viable renewable energy source that can run slow diesel generators and that reduces the environmental and health hazards of diesel emissions. I present a life cycle assessment of the production and use of straight vegetable oil extracted from poppy seed with the primary goal of comparing on-farm versus regional production in terms of energy output and greenhouse gas emissions.

Second, I then present a means of producing a straight vegetable oil (SVO) fuel from poppy seeds by evaluating the utility of the co-products and describe the methods of using a manually cranked oil expeller that results in recovering approximately 80% of the available oil. Third, I present a theoretical framework with poppy SVO as the product to introduce this new intervention.

A model of the energy system is developed, based on the Argonne National Laboratory life cycle assessment tool, GREET, and includes agricultural production and transport inputs and outputs. Two cases for the production and use of the poppy seed-derived SVO are modeled: (1) an energy system in which individual farmers harvest poppy seeds, extract oil, and use the oil on-farm; and (2) an energy system in which groups of farmers harvest their seeds, then send the product to a regional extraction mill for the oil to be returned to farmers, households, and/or blenders. I model a total of 24 scenarios based on energy production, inputs, emissions and the impacts of fertilization.

The poppy oil was filtered and tested for oxygen stability, speed of sound, density, kinematic viscosity and bulk modulus. Nutritional testing was conducted for protein and energy, and also for use as a soil amendment. Thirdly, I developed a social-ecological system framework to provide a road-map for the implementation of transitioning farmers to alternative livelihoods with the farmers at the center of these changes with non-governmental agencies playing active supporting roles with local and regional governments.

I determined that the on-farm scenario would be GHG-neutral and almost all of the available energy of the poppy seed oil would be available for use, resulting in a maximum energy return on investment (EROI) of 2,800. Other transportation scenarios were calculated to have a GHG content and EROI ranging from 1.5-240 kg GHG's and 0.27-1,300, respectively. The oil had favorable fuel characteristics (cold filter plugging point of 292 K (sd =0.231); speed of sound 1,470 m/s (sd = 0.0283); density 0.919 g/cm3, and kinematic viscosity: 27.9 mm2/s). The resulting crushed seeds proved acceptable as an animal feed (19.4 MJ/kg; 33.3% protein) and soil nutrients (21.1 ppm N, 340 ppm P and pH: 6.5).

A point in the progress of development in Afghanistan is to recognize and capitalize on the similarities of sustainability and adaptation have in discussions of governance in both innovation diffusion and environment in the development field. Specifically, discussions on increasing access to energy innovations which often involves understanding the environmental trade-offs in terms of emissions and land-use change. The literature describes transportation distance as the major contributor to energy and emissions in energy production distribution, my work showed this to be especially evident. A number of frameworks have been presented to outline the governance/management practices that need to be in place to deal with the major impacts on natural resources and resource adaptation for societies and environments. The literature continues to support the interdisciplinary route of including governance/co-management strategies. Thus, rather than focusing on the economics of exporting the poppy oil in my project, the oil can be used as a peace building and partnership based resource. Access to energy in the rural areas of Afghanistan remains a development challenge. Sustainable production and use of a readily abundant energy source could provide a much needed improvement in energy access for the remote farmers of Afghanistan. The results of this study suggest that on-farm SVO production and use is a sustainable alternative to the regional energy production models from the perspective of GHG emissions and energy efficiency. As the fuel and its co-products are being proposed as resources to be used locally and improve life within the villages, there is a value for the local people/partners in bolstering of self-sufficiency and independence that can truly foster the partnership among stakeholders that is a barrier in other proposals of developmental outreach.

 


Michelle Meyer. 2013. "Social Capital and Collective Efficacy for Disaster Resilience: Connecting Individuals with Communities and Vulnerability with Resilience in Hurricane-Prone Communities in Florida." Doctoral Dissertation, Department of Sociology, Colorado Sate University. (Dissertation Chair: Professor Lori Peek)

 

Disaster resilience broadly describes the ability of an individual or community to “bounce back” from disaster impacts, through improved mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. There has been academic and political interest in predicting resilience among different individuals, communities, and populations. Two components of disaster resilience that are commonly proposed, but under-theorized, are social capital and collective efficacy. These two components capture the interactive aspects of a community that imply a capacity to respond, adapt, learn, and effectively reorganize community life quickly following a disaster event. Social capital and collective efficacy are not only less established in resilience research, but they are also the key components that, from a sociological perspective, make a community “a community” and have the potential to meet the needs of vulnerable populations. These concepts represent individuals interacting and working together, and are signals that a community is more than a population and more than a simply tally of their population attributes like race, income, or housing structures.

This dissertation explored the relationship between individual and community resilience and social vulnerability in hurricane-prone communities in the United States using social capital and collective efficacy as conceptual grounding. I use a grounding in the sociological understanding of these two concepts to contribute to the growing focus on resilience as an organizing concept in disaster planning while focusing on marginalized populations to elucidate the connection between vulnerability and resilience. The overarching research questions of this dissertation are: How does social capital and collective efficacy affect individual and community disaster resilience and how do these aspects of resilience incorporate concerns for those most social vulnerable to disasters?

To answer these questions, I completed case studies of two Florida counties, Leon and Dixie, using a mixed-methods approach. In each case study county, I collected individual- and community-level data. At the individual level, I used mail surveys of 138 residents and in-person interviews with 25 residents to collect data on disaster-specific social networks and perceptions of collective efficacy. At the community level, I conducted 28 interviews with representatives of community organizations (religious institutions, nonprofits, emergency management agencies, and social service agencies). These interviews produced data on their organizational networks for disaster situations and perceptions of collective efficacy.

My results highlight the following five main findings related to disaster social capital. First, respondents’ disaster-specific social networks are limited in size. Many respondents perceived a small number of social capital ties as able to provide resources for disaster situations, and this result differed based on the resource considered (financial or nonfinancial) and by county. Second, family ties and geographically localized ties are prominent in these networks. Third, taken together with indicators of social vulnerability, disaster social capital involves a complex process of network size, composition, and resource needs and availability that influence the perception of potential social ties to activate in disasters. This process has implications for individual resilience, based on the resources an individual has and what they can receive from their networks. Fourth, this primary data on disaster social networks is positively correlated, but only weakly, to common measures of routine social capital. Fifth, nearly half of the respondents in this study lack formal social capital ties to community organizations. Few of these individuals perceived these formal social capital ties as useful in a disaster situation and instead would rely on family and friends first.


Andrew Prelog. 2012. "Longitudinal and Geographic Analysis of the Relationship between Natural Disasters and Crime in the United States." Doctoral Dissertation, Department of Sociology, Colorado State University. (Dissertation Co-Chairs: Professor Lori Peek and Professor Tara Shelley)

Natural disasters and crime are ubiquitous in the United States. The public generally views the social disorder associated with disaster events as criminogenic—that is, disasters somehow foster opportunistic criminal behavior. Scientific investigation into the relationship between disaster and crime is more nuanced—and at times has produced contradictory and inconsistent findings.

This dissertation research explores the relationship between disaster and crime in the continental United States to investigate the question of whether disasters of different magnitudes and/or types differentially affect crime rates. I employ three sociological theories to inform the analyses. First, sociology of disaster researchers, using the therapeutic community hypothesis, have long asserted that disasters reduce criminal activity both during and after the event. Second, criminologists using social disorganization theory assert that disaster may increase the likelihood and occurrence of crime. Third, researchers using routine activity theory suggest that disaster may increase or decrease criminal activity, depending on how a disaster restructures formal and informal mechanisms of social control, and criminal opportunity.

To investigate this question, I use geographic and longitudinal analyses of 14 years of county-level data on socio-demographic predictors of crime, crime rates, and disaster impacts. I statistically model 11 different categories of crime and impacts from 12 different disaster types using geographic information systems, hierarchical linear modeling, and geographically weighted regression. In general, findings indicate that higher crime rates are associated with larger disaster magnitudes. The effect is not consistent for all categories of crime investigated in this research. Findings also indicate that certain types of disasters have a differential effect on crime outcomes, independent of disaster magnitude. This research and results represent the first county-level geographic and longitudinal analysis of disaster and crime for the United States.


Master's Theses

John Boyne. 2015. "Elderly Migration and Natural Disasters in the United States from 1960 to 2010." Master's Thesis, Department of Sociology, Colorado State University. (Thesis Co-Chairs: Michael Lacy and Lori Peek)

The United States is a rapidly aging society. As a larger proportion of the population enters into the retirement years, it is likely that a larger portion of the nation’s migrants will be elderly. Over the last four decades, natural disasters have also been increasing in frequency and scale across the United States. This thesis draws together two different data sets in order to test the relationship between the two variables, elderly migration and natural disaster loss. The purpose of this thesis is to examine whether migration patterns among the elderly are influenced by natural disaster risk across the country.

After a brief introduction, the thesis offers a review of the literature regarding elderly migration in the United States and an exploration of the particular vulnerabilities that the elderly face before, during, and after natural disasters. Then, the thesis reviews the relationship between migration and natural disasters, specifically focusing on climate change, economic development, and amenities.

Natural disaster data ranged from 1960 to 2000 and elderly migration data ranged from 1970 to 2010. A fixed effects panel regression model was used to measure the effect natural disaster damage on elderly migration patterns at the county level. The previous decade’s disaster damage data was measured against the following decade’s elderly migration patterns. The analysis showed statistical significance between several of the variables but little substantive effect between natural disaster damage and elderly migration across the United States measuring across multiple variables of natural disaster data including per capita damage, number of events experienced and number of extreme events experienced.

As the elderly continue to comprise a larger proportion of the population and as migration rates continue to rise among this age group, an understanding of the unique relationship between this age group and the risk of natural disasters will help at-risk communities more effectively prepare for extreme events. Although there are limitations to this project, the research contributes to the emerging research field of elderly migration and natural disaster vulnerability.

 

 


 

Richard Kluckow. 2014. "The Impact of Heir Property on Post-Katrina Housing Recovery in New Orleans." Master's Thesis, Department of Sociology, Colorado State University. (Thesis Chair: Lori Peek)

This thesis examines the impact of heir property on post-Katrina housing recovery in New Orleans. Heir property is a form of collective ownership of immoveable property that is the result of interstate succession prevalent in poor and minority communities. For decades, vulnerabilities associated with heir property have been a leading cause of land loss for rural African Americans. After Hurricane Katrina, urban heir property owners in New Orleans struggled to collect insurance money or access federal recovery grants due to issues of unclear title. This research draws on 15 in-depth interviews with institutional actors working on heir property issues in New Orleans and heir property owners in and around the Lower Ninth Ward, a neighborhood devastated by flooding and with high levels of heir property. Specific mechanisms that contributed to lower levels of recovery for heir property owners are identified and recommendations made to protect vulnerable homeowners in future housing recovery programs.

 


Liesel Schilperoort. 2012. "How Community Institutions in Turkey Engage in disaster Risk Reduction: A Case of Istanbul and Antakya." Master's Thesis, Department

 

of Sociology, Colorado State University. (Thesis Chair: Lori Peek)

This thesis explores how different community institutions -- government, education, healthcare, business, and grassroots organizations -- in Turkey engage in disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategies and how each institution fosters a culture of resilience. The framework used to assess DRR engagement is the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), which is the structure of resilience and preparedness created by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). The goal of the research is to understand the ways that DRR is integrated into social institutions in Turkey, using the cities of Istanbul and Antakya as the primary case study communities. The analyses of 21 interviews, as well as supplemental respondent surveys, highlight primary themes informing how the five community institutions address seismic risk in Turkey. The current social organization of Turkey has key characteristics found in 'fatalistic' societies, or societies that are characteristically reactive. However, the ways community institutions engage in DRR illustrates that Turkey is determined to shift its DRR strategies from reactive to proactive. "A current state of unpreparedness" is how a respondent described the risk culture in Turkey today. Still, an examination of the data verifies that, despite the barriers, Turkey is beginning to develop a strong culture of resilience and gradually shifting toward a more 'self-reliant', proactive society.


John Stzukowski. 2010. “A STIRPAT Model of Sectoral CO2 Emissions at the County Scale." Master's Thesis, Department of Sociology, Colorado State University.(Thesis Chair: Professor Sammy Zahran)

The scientific community agrees that the principal cause of increased surface temperature globally is the accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion being most important among GHGs. The objective of this thesis is to analyze the spatial correspondences between CO2 emissions and anthropogenic variables of population, affluence, and technology in the United States. Ordinary least squares regression and spatial analytical techniques are used to analyze variation in CO2 emissions based on a modified version of the STIRPAT model. The unit of analysis is the county, with 3,108 counties in the contiguous United States analyzed. The CO2 emissions of multiple sectors are analyzed as a function of total county population, income per capita, and climatic variation. Results show that population has a proportional relationship, the strongest association, with CO2 emissions. Affluence has a positive relationship with CO2 emissions with an attainable Environmental Kuznets Curve for the residential sector and total CO2 emissions. Climate, including average winter and summer season temperature, has a positive relationship with total CO2 emissions, although it has a negative relationship with the residential and commercial sectors of CO2 emissions. Technology acts as the residual in the model, accounting for net-positive and net-negative technology. The thesis concludes that population growth, and to a smaller extent economic growth, are the driving forces of CO2 at the local level. These findings are consistent with global STIRPAT models. An increase in winter or summer temperature further exacerbates CO2 emissions. Understanding the relationships between these anthropogenic variables and environmental impacts at the local scale is a crucial step in the process of formulating mitigation strategies aimed at reducing CO2 emissions in the US.


Jennifer Tobin-Gurley. 2008. "Hurricane Katrina: Displaced Single Mothers, Resource Acquisition, and Downward Mobility.” Master’s Thesis, Department of Sociology, Colorado State University. (Thesis Chair: Professor Lori Peek)

This thesis examines the needs and experiences of single mothers who have been displaced to Colorado after Hurricane Katrina. The research draws on data gathered through interviews with 15 disaster relief professionals and 8 single mothers. In particular, this study identifies what resources were made available to single mothers in Colorado, how single mothers accessed these resources, and what they still need to reestablish their lives. Further, the thesis explores how intersecting vulnerabilities influenced the downward mobility of single mothers after displacement. In addition, this study examines the institutional participation in the long-term recovery process and offers policy recommendations to aid in the development of preparedness and recovery plans for single mothers in future disasters.

*Winner, 2011 Annual Hazards and Disasters Student Paper Competition, Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado at Boulder.

*Winner, 2011 Graduate Student Paper Competition, U.S. Gender and Disaster Resilience Alliance.


Megan Underhill. 2008. Katrina’s Displacement: The Untold Consequences of Disaster Resettlement in Colorado. Master’s Thesis, Department of Anthropology, Colorado State University.(Thesis Chair: Professor Katherine Browne)

This thesis explores the relationship of the social, economic, and cultural capital of New Orleans residents before and after Katrina in an effort to demonstrate how the presence or absence of such resources differentially impacts the recovery experiences of Katrina evacuees in Colorado. Drawing on 15 months of ethnographic research, this thesis examines the following research questions: Would evacuees be able to draw upon their pre-Katrina capital resources to aid them in their recovery? Which capital resources—including economic, social, and cultural capital—would evacuees rely most heavily upon after their disaster resettlement? Would displaced Gulf Coast residents be able to attain an equivalent value for their capital resources in their new state of residence and what would the consequences be for those individuals who could not? Finally, how would a person’s class, race, and gender impact their disaster resettlement experience? Would it impede or prohibit their ability to accumulate or convert a said capital resource in Colorado?

This research shows that all of the evacuees in the sample experienced economic loss from Katrina and their subsequent resettlement. However, it was the lower-income, predominantly African American, “interdependent” evacuees who had the most difficult time recovering their pre-Katrina economic and social status. In contrast, predominantly white, “self-sufficient” evacuees were able to achieve a faster and more resolute recovery than interdependent evacuees. The disaster resettlement experience of Katrina evacuees in this study clearly illustrates that economic recovery is not equally likely or possible for all groups of people. As such, it is important to situate our discussion of disaster resettlement within a social inequality framework in which we investigate why certain individuals are able to achieve more “valuable” forms of capital than others. In order to understand the complexity of a person’s resettlement experience, we must all broaden the scope of our analysis and include resources such as social and cultural capital in addition to economic capital.


Toni-Lee Viney. 2008. Disrupting the National Gaper’s Block: An Analysis of Time Magazine’s Framing of Hurricane Katrina.Master’s Thesis, Department of Communication Studies, Colorado State University. (Thesis Chair: Professor Brian Ott)

With crises, the media’s initial reaction is often impulsive. When such impulses are disseminated to a world audience by an entity that wields the power to construct the “reality” of an event, these impulses have enormous implications for those directly affected and those who are conditioned to see a crisis as a simple dramatization. News media frames of national crises, then, are significant because they shape public memory of “what happened.”  This thesis includes an analysis of five New Orleans/Katrina cover story issues of Time Magazine, including September 12, 2005, September 19, 2005, October 3, 2005, November 28, 2005, and August 13, 2007.  This research examines how the news media framed Hurricane Katrina and the implications of that framing.  By studying the media coverage of Hurricane Katrina both immediately after the crisis and throughout the following two year span, this work compares news media framing of crisis in its initial form with news media framing of crisis over time.  Time Magazine relied on what I theorize to be a quasi-tragic frame, which ultimately contributed to Katrina fatigue.  I determined that the presence of certain frames and absence of others offers a profound explanation into how New Orleans was phased out.


Andrew Prelog. 2007. Water Scarcity and Rapid Complex Change in Colorado: An Evaluation of Historical Patterns of Water Appropriation and Socio-Demographic Growth. Master’s Thesis. Department of Sociology, Colorado State University. (Thesis Chair: Professor Evan Vlachos)

This thesis examines historical water appropriation in Water Division 1, the South Platte River Basin of Colorado, in relation to water scarcity for the period 1905 to 2005. This study describes the general changes in water supply and demand within the historical political economy. The primary objective is to empirically evaluate a sociological framework that conceptualizes the relationship between Colorado’s transformation of water appropriation patterns and related socio-demographic changes of population growth. The thesis argues that demographic growth along the urban corridor of the Front Range and the increasing demands of new users may leave society more vulnerable to extreme events of water shortages. An ecological political economy perspective known as the DPSIR is adopted to highlight the important variables in the complex system of water management. From this framework, the legal system governing water appropriation is investigated more thoroughly and historical water appropriation patterns are explained. The “environment,” or water supply, as well as demographic growth, or “population,” are treated as the key independent variables. Water law, or the “Colorado Doctrine,” is considered an intervening variable, while patterns of appropriation are treated as the dependent variable. This approach led to a series of researchable propositions in order to test and analyze a number of interdependent relationships between the environment and society. The evaluation of the data includes a longitudinal, macro-level analysis of water appropriation rights in Water Division 1. Based on the patterns of appropriation and demographic change observed in the data, the research supports the related hypotheses that population growth is the driving force of water appropriation; surface water becomes scarce as a function of population growth; with historic decrease in available surface water, available supplies will be augmented by a “shift” to groundwater by users; insofar as the shift to groundwater supplies decreases the reserve of water usable during times of shortage, creating a more vulnerable society; and, as vulnerability increases the socio-economic-environmental system experiences endemic, or greater uncertainty. The findings of the research have important implications for future research into Colorado’s water resources during periods of complex rapid social and environmental change.


Undergraduate Honors Theses

Audrey Matusich. 2012."Vulnerable Victims: Media Constructions of Children After the BP Oil Spill." Undergraduate Honor's Thesis, Department of Biology and Department of Sociology, Colorado State University. (Thesis Chair: Professor Lori Peek)

On April 20, 2011, the Deepwater Horizon oil well exploded, resulting in the largest industrial disaster in U.S. history. Extensive media coverage has focused on the damage the BP oil spill has caused to coastal economies as well as wildlife. However, children also suffered the consequences of the oil spill. This thesis examines local media coverage of child vulnerabilities and capacities in relation to the oil spill disaster. Drawing on a random sample of 120 newspaper articles, I analyze coverage of children and the oil spill using the most widely circulated newspapers in Alabama, Louisiana, and Florida. My content analysis of this coverage reveals that children were primarily framed as victims, aiming to promote adult action or to demonstrate monetary damages. There was also variance across states, with the Alabama newspaper most frequently portraying children as victims in an apparent effort to promote action among adults. The Louisiana paper, on the other hand, mainly focused on community safety, often lumping the mental and physical health of children and adults into a single category. The Florida newspaper varied from the other two in its more diverse coverage of children, most frequently discussing financial stress, adult guilt, and changes in children’s routines. Despite variance in the primary themes represented in each newspaper, all primarily portrayed children as victims to the BP oil spill. Child resilience or capacities were seldom mentioned.

*Winner, 2012 Annual Hazards and Disasters Student Paper Competition, Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado at Boulder.


Ysaye Zamore. 2012. "Being Black: Examining the Relationship between Sociodemographic Characteristics, Racial Residential Segregation, and Evacuation Behavior in Hurricane Katrina." National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergrads (REU) Summer Disaster Research Program Final Thesis. (Co-Advisor: Professor Lori Peek)

This study analyzes a subset of data (n = 581) from a survey conducted by the Washington Post, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University. The purpose of this research was to explore the relationship between racial residential segregation, sociodemographic characteristics such as race, class, and gender, and the evacuation strategies used by Hurricane Katrina victims. The results indicate that both sociodemographic features and residential location are significant when analyzing evacuation choices.

*Winner, 2010 Annual Hazards and Disasters Student Paper Competition, Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado at Boulder.


Heather Bailey. 2011. "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Cultural Trauma: Anxiety Disorders and Cultural Coping Methods for Hurricane Katrina Survivors." Undergraduate Honor's Thesis, Department of Anthropology, Colorado State University. (Thesis Chair: Professor Kate Browne)

This thesis discusses the initial impacts of Hurricane Katrina on the New Orleans area, addresses the historical background of the area to give context for many of the racial disparities post-Katrina, and focuses on the traumas experienced by survivors, particularly how those traumas vary by race. Hurricane Katrina survivors experienced Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and cultural trauma, both of which are anxiety disorders, after the storm. However, the experiences of PTSD and cultural trauma manifested differently for whites and blacks. After Katrina, there were widespread incidents of posttraumatic stress for survivors. There was also a breakdown of social networks and extensive dislocation of survivors due to evacuation and destruction of housing, which shattered collective identities and caused New Orleanians to experience cultural trauma. However, there have been disparities in the prevalence of PTSD for survivors based on race. The findings conclude that the high PTSD rates, as well as the discrepancies in PTSD rates between races are due to cultural trauma, which is rarely acknowledged or discussed as a separate anxiety disorder.


Krista Richardson. 2009. Katrina’s Children: An Analysis of Educational Outcomes among Displaced Children in Colorado. Undergraduate Honor’s Thesis, Department of Sociology, Colorado State University. (Thesis Chair: Professor Lori Peek)

This research examines educational outcomes among displaced children and teens in Colorado in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Specifically, the thesis investigates the following research questions: (1) What have displaced children’s and youth’s experiences been with schooling in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?; (2) How have their experiences impacted their grades in school?; (3) What benefits have children found in their new schools and environment? Through an analysis of in-depth interviews with students who relocated to the Denver Metro area after Hurricane Katrina, the study shows that there were several factors that had a negative impact on these children’s grade outcomes. These factors included the trauma of the disaster itself, difficulties adjusting to life in Colorado, challenges finding new friends, and delays in becoming acquainted with the new scholastic environment. Although children faced many challenges upon relocating, they were also resilient and were able to identify many benefits of going to school in their new environment in Colorado.

*Winner, 2009 Annual Hazards and Disasters Student Paper Competition, Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado at Boulder.


Alex Mitchell. 2007.  Social Impacts of Fear: An Examination of the 2002 Washington, DC Sniper Shootings.Undergraduate Honors Program Thesis.  Department of Sociology, Colorado State University. (Thesis Chair: Professor Lori Peek)

During three weeks of October 2002, millions of citizens across the Washington, DCmetropolitan area were terrorized by sporadic, unexplained, horrific shootings at the hands of the “Snipers.” In what came to dominate national headlines, the 2002 Washington, DCSniper Shootings paralyzed citizens with fear and disrupted many people’s lives, relationships, and community functions. Through a detailed content analysis and the use of in-depth interviews, this thesis focuses on the Washington, DCarea newspaper reporting during the period of the shootings in an effort to understand the effects of media on citizen behavior and response. This research examines the relationship between media coverage and its influence on perceptions, levels of fear, daily behavior, and feelings regarding the shootings through ten qualitative interviews with residents of the Maryland/Virginia area. The thesis concludes by describing the various factors that influence citizens’ perceived levels of risk during disaster events like these shootings. These factors include levels of media consumption, geographic location in respect to the disaster, demographic characteristics including age and gender, as well as personal ties, if any, to the victims of a disaster.

*Winner, 2007 Annual Hazards and Disasters Student Paper Competition, Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado at Boulder.