2019 UofSC hurricane faculty experts list



The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1. Top researchers at the University of South Carolina are available to discuss multiple aspects of the 2019 hurricane season, including forecasting, disaster planning and historical perspectives.  To coordinate an interview, contact the staff member listed with each expert entry.

Combating mold after the storm

Mold is a problem that many businesses and homeowners face in the aftermath of hurricanes. Mold thrives in moist environments such as flood-impacted buildings and can cause serious health problems. Anindya Chanda at the Arnold School of Public Health is director of the Integrative Mycology Laboratory at the University of South Carolina. He is available to discuss what people should know about safely removing mold and the health risks mold poses to humans. 
News contact: Erin Bluvas, bluvase@mailbox.sc.edu, or 843-302-1681

Post-storm health hazards

What are the health threats after a hurricane? Jill Michels, managing director of the Palmetto Poison Center, can discuss problems that arise during recovery, such as the risk of food-borne illness from eating spoiled food. In addition, she can address carbon monoxide poisoning, which can occur when generators are used improperly. The Palmetto Poison Center is staffed by toxicology experts who provide free advice to S.C. residents about exposure to poisonous materials. 
News contact: Skot Garrick, garricsa@cop.sc.edu, or 803-576-8402

Infrastructure, levee breaches, closure procedures and mobility

Nathan Huynh, an associate professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering, has experience in the areas of evacuation, transportation network vulnerability and resiliency, freight transportation and intermodal network design. 
News contact: Rachel Myers, rkmyers@cec.sc.edu, or 803-777-9593 

Hanif Chaudhry, associate dean in the College of Engineering and Computing, has studied the levee breaches in New Orleans, the worst of which occurred at the 17th Street Canal. Chaudhry just completed a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation that led an international research effort on modeling of flood hazards due to levee breach and dam failure. 
News contact: Rachel Myers, rkmyers@cec.sc.edu, or 803-777-9593 

Inthuorn Sasanakul, assistant professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering has studied dam, levee, seawall, landslides, road embankments and bridge foundations after 2017 hurricanes which hit Florida (Irma) and Puerto Rico (Maria) and the 2015 historic floods in S.C. She has expertise in geotechnical system response and soil characterization subjected to natural hazards such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. 
News contact: Rachel Myers, rkmyers@cec.sc.edu, or 803-777-9593 

Erfan Goharian, assistant professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering, has experience in the areas of extreme climate events and their effects on water resources systems, integrated water resources management, hydrology, and systems engineering.
News contact: Rachel Myers, rkmyers@cec.sc.edu, or 803-777-9593

Social media listening during natural disasters

What are South Carolinians saying before, during and after hurricanes hit? The university’s Social Media Insights Lab uses artificial intelligence-powered software to study online conversations around a variety of topics. Kaitlyn Park, Insights Lab manager, can provide analytics reports on hurricanes and emergency response, including public sentiment, recurring topics of conversation, social media influencers and more.
News contact: Rebekah Friedman, rebekahb@mailbox.sc.edu, or 803-576-7270

Preparing medication for evacuation

Although it may be tempting to consolidate medicine into a single container during an evacuation, keeping pills in their original bottle is important for medication safety. Jill Michels, managing director of the Palmetto Poison Center, can discuss the risk of ingestion by children from improperly contained medications as well as the need for health care providers to have accurate information about a patient’s medications in case of extended displacement. 
News contact: Skot Garrick, garricsa@cop.sc.edu, or 803-576-8402

Bridge and building safety after storms

How do storms impact bridges and buildings? Paul Ziehl, professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering, has experience with the design, post-event evaluation and remediation of reinforced concrete, steel, timber and fiber-reinforced polymer structures and systems, including bridges and buildings. He has additional experience and expertise in structural health monitoring of buildings and transportation systems. 
News contact: Rachel Myers, rkmyers@cec.sc.edu, or 803-777-9593

Impact of intense wind and precipitation

Jean Taylor Ellis, associate professor of geography with an appointment in the School of the Earth, Ocean and the Environment, investigates the effects of wind on the coastal environment. Ellis oversees the university’s Beach and Dune Processes lab. She is interested in sand transport and the interactions between beaches and dunes. She can address the impact of storms and humans on shorelines.
News contact: Amanda Hernandez, hernan56@mailbox.sc.edu, or 803-777-3078

In addition to high winds, the water that accompanies hurricanes can overwhelm a region. Geology professor Venkat Lakshmi, a hydrometeorology expert in the School of Earth, Ocean and the Environment, can discuss the impact of intense precipitation. After Hurricane Katrina, Lakshmi conducted a study on flooding along the Gulf Coast and its impact. He can discuss flash floods and the seriousness of flash-flood advisories, coastal erosion when sediment is washed away, and how the horizontal movement of wind and water changes the landscape. 
News contact: Amanda Hernandez, hernan56@mailbox.sc.edu, or 803-777-3078

Hurricanes' impact on oceans

Subra Bulusu is a professor of satellite oceanography and physical oceanography and head of the Satellite Oceanography Laboratory in the School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment. He can discuss a hurricane's impact on the oceans using remote-sensing techniques, satellite oceanography and ocean modeling. He is also one of the advisory board members of the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. 
News contact: Amanda Hernandez, hernan56@mailbox.sc.edu, or 803-777-3078

Assessing storm surge and damage

Jerry Mitchell, director of the S.C. Geographic Alliance, can discuss the nature and dynamics of storm surge and how the vulnerability of communities is determined. Mitchell, along with other university geography researchers, mapped storm-surge inundation from Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast and assessed where residents were the most vulnerable.
News contact: Amanda Hernandez, hernan56@mailbox.sc.edu, or 803-777-3078

Recreating U.S. hurricane history

Cary Mock, professor of geography and a climatologist, has reconstructed a hurricane history for South Carolina and other areas of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, as well as for typhoons in the Pacific Ocean, including Hawaii. From studying old diaries, 18th- and 19th-century plantation records, newspapers, ship logbooks and early meteorological records, he has created a perspective on hurricanes during the last several hundred years, which, in turn, is leading to a better understanding of hurricane patterns and the relationships between hurricanes and global climate change. Mock, who teaches meteorology courses, also can discuss the meteorological characteristics, climate, tracks and forecasting aspects of hurricanes. His research is funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
News contact: Amanda Hernandez, hernan56@mailbox.sc.edu, or 803-777-3078

Preparedness and policy

Susan Cutter, Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography, is considered one of the leading authorities in the world on emergency preparedness, response and recovery, and social vulnerability to manmade and natural disasters. She is frequently consulted by government agencies for her expertise in the roles of public agencies, such as FEMA and state emergency-preparedness offices, in handling disasters. As director of the university's Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute, one of the country's top facilities for integrating hazards research with geospatial information, Cutter has done extensive grant-funded research on hurricane evacuations and how people decide whether to evacuate.

Cutter and colleagues at the institute conducted a survey of evacuation behavior from Hurricane Matthew in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Immediately after Hurricane Katrina, she led a team of researchers who mapped storm-surge inundation along the Gulf Coast and assessed where residents were the most vulnerable. Additionally, she completed a 2011 survey of South Carolina hurricane evacuation behavior for the Army Corps of Engineers and South Carolina Emergency Management Division.
News contact: Amanda Hernandez, hernan56@mailbox.sc.edu, or 803-777-3078

When natural disasters hit, how are emergency management agencies using social media to keep the public informed and quell rumors? Shannon Bowen, a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, interviewed the state’s top emergency managers about their social media policies, practices and use. Bowen can discuss her findings regarding the challenges these agencies face during floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters. She can also share recommendations for agencies seeking to improve their disaster communication efforts.
News contact: Rebekah Friedman, rebekahb@mailbox.sc.edu, or 803-576-7270

Impact of storms on coastal ecology, salt marshes and water quality

Dennis Allen is a research professor and resident director of the USC Baruch Marine Field Laboratory on the coast near Georgetown, S.C. With more than 37 years of experience on the S.C. coast, and professional interests in the ecology of fishes, shrimps, crabs, and less familiar animals of salt marshes, estuaries and the coastal ocean, he is available to discuss issues including threats and impacts of coastal storms. Allen was active in studying the environmental impact of 1989's Hurricane Hugo.
News contact: Amanda Hernandez, hernan56@mailbox.sc.edu, or 803-777-3078

Jim Morris is a coastal marine scientist and professor and research associate with the Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences near Georgetown, S.C. He can address questions relating to the effect of sea-level rise and storms on the coast and its ecology, especially its salt marshes.
News contact: Amanda Hernandez, hernan56@mailbox.sc.edu, or 803-777-3078

James Pinckney is a marine ecologist, professor in the School of the Earth Ocean and Environment and director of the Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences near Georgetown, S.C.  He studies how marine ecosystems work and can discuss storms’ impact on microalgae and estuarine systems.
News contact: Amanda Hernandez, hernan56@mailbox.sc.edu, or 803-777-3078

Impact of storms on economy in tourist destinations

Scott Smith is widely recognized as a leading expert on theme parks, and has written and spoken to media about the impact of storms on parks and other tourist destinations. He also provides consulting to the hotel, resort and theme park industries.
News contact: Allen Wallace, awallace@sc.edu, or 803-777-5667

Law and policies of adapting to climate impacts

Nathan Richardson, an assistant professor in the university's School of Law, specializes in environmental and energy law, especially the law and policy of climate change. He can discuss local, regional and national laws and policies aimed at adaptation to climate impacts, including sea level rise and extreme weather events, and the role of various levels of government and agencies in disaster response.
News contact: Rob Schaller, rschaller@sc.edu, 803-777-5611

Legal issues and ramifications surrounding hurricane damage

Josh Eagle, the Solomon Blatt Professor of Law in the university’s School of Law, specializes in natural resources and coastal law and can discuss environmental-policy implications and regulatory requirements related to hurricanes. Eagle, an authority on coastal law, which encompasses land use and development, property and preservation of natural resources, wrote the first textbook devoted to the subject of coastal law, released in 2011.
News contact: Rob Schaller, rschaller@sc.edu, 803-777-5611

Susan Kuo, associate dean for diversity and inclusion and professor of law, studies disaster law and policy, focusing especially on issues of vulnerability and social justice. Her research includes consideration of inequalities that exacerbate vulnerabilities to disaster harm and issues pertaining to access to resources in the wake of disaster.
News contact: Rob Schaller, rschaller@sc.edu, 803-777-5611

Risk management and insurance

Robert Hartwig is one of the nation’s leading authorities on insurance. Before joining the Darla Moore School of Business as a finance professor in 2016, he was president of Insurance Information Institute. Hartwig is frequently sought by national media for insights and economic analysis in the insurance industry. He can discuss risk assessment, insurance pricing and public policy issues related to insurance for coastal residents and businesses. Specific topics include catastrophe modeling, catastrophe bonds, catastrophe reinsurance, and the National Flood Insurance Program.
News contact: Leigh-Anne Lawrence, leigh-anne.lawrence@moore.sc.edu, or 803-777-4306


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