Students in engaged in Virginia Tech’s Disaster Resilience and Risk Management (DRRMVT) program and advised in research by DRRMVT faculty have the opportunity to participate in two primary overlapping research thrusts, each of which embodies a transdisciplinary approach:

  1. Hazards and physical impacts
  2. Socioeconomic impacts and recovery
Simultaneously, students will participate in explicit Thrust Integration activities via a series of workshops focused on stakeholder interaction and engagement. Each thrust, as well as Thrust Integration activities, will involve students from all participating disciplines.

The proposed inter- and transdisciplinary courses and seminars and stakeholder workshops will not only directly support the research thrusts, but also will serve as a crucial opportunity for students to move from disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, including cross-disciplinary exchange of core technical skills, into a transdisciplinary Community of Practice (CoP) that crosses university and community boundaries and will in turn drive their research efforts. This strong framework ensures not only relevant disciplinary focus but also robust interdisciplinary collaboration and fundamental support for transdisciplinary knowledge creation, all positioned within the broader context of practical, stakeholder-driven decision-making.

Co-leads: Weiss and Olgun

Research Thrust 1: Hazards & Impacts

To comprehensively and holistically assess recovery and mitigation requires an understanding of hazard types, their likelihood of occurrence, and the level of uncertainty in the quantification of these impact outcomes. Our approach is twofold: (1) leverage existing methods and data to develop projections of future hazard and impacts scenarios and (2) advance understanding, modeling, and methods for predicting hazards and their impacts. While these approaches are traditionally rooted in the sciences and engineering, our approach will intentionally include students from disciplines such as business and urban affairs and planning to promote a transdisciplinary culture. Skills students will develop in this thrust include computational modeling, computational model development, experimental testing, data analytics, post-disaster evaluations, and extreme-value statistics.

Co-leads: Cowell & Zobel

Research Thrust 2: Socioeconomic Impacts & Recovery

Our approach in this thrust is twofold: (1) leverage existing methods and data to develop future socioeconomic impacts scenarios and (2) advance place-based modeling of socioeconomic impacts and recovery. While these approaches are traditionally rooted in business and urban planning, our approach will intentionally include students from the sciences and engineering. Skills students will develop in this thrust include data analytics, geographic information systems, systems modeling, decision support tools, simulation/optimization, and focus groups/interviews.

Co-leads: Irish & Zhang

Research Thrust Integration: Stakeholder Interaction & Engagement

Stakeholders are affected by the impacts of disasters. The decisions they make in response to a potential or actual disaster event then depend on their level of responsibility, the availability of data, and their understanding of the priorities, goals, choices and scientifically based impacts of alternatives that are present. This makes it imperative for the DRRM research community to be able to effectively engage with stakeholders, not only to ensure that critical gaps are addressed but also to ensure that scientific information is disseminated in effective and useful ways. Stakeholder workshops provide an opportunity for students to engage directly with stakeholders and to practice interaction skills developed during UAP 5084 Collaborative Planning and Community Involvement. The workshops directly support Thrust 1 and 2 research activities by providing interactive opportunities to: (1) Gather primary data to support Thrust 2 activities via focus group discussions and interviews, (2) Create stakeholder-driven disaster foresight scenarios to inform future research direction and to gain a fundamental understanding of how stakeholders respond under different combinations of cascading events, and (3) Disseminate and receive feedback on research outcomes.