Projects and Research

This is a listing of some of our recent project and research activity. It includes collaborative efforts between students, faculty, and staff as well as ongoing applied efforts with outside agencies. It is not all inclusive, and may not include unpublished work or smaller projects.

Disaster Incident Research Team (DIRT)

Dates: 2012 - Current

Faculty, Staff and Students: Merrick (Principal), McDaniel, Broder, Casserleigh, Cuadra, Samples, Bell, Kinch, Weins, Duggleby (B.), Dilling

This ongoing program provides a framework and policy for conducting a variety of applied research activities in the field. DIRT research may include data gathering in disasters for academic research projects as well as applied work in the areas of unmanned systems, urban search and rescue, and business recovery.

FSU Virtual Operations Support Team (FSU.VOST)

Dates: 2012 - Current

Faculty, Staff and Students: Merrick (Principal), Bell, Broder, Hart, Cuadra, Kinch, Weins, Duggleby (B.)

EMHS operates a Virtual Operations Support Team (VOST) that supports the State of Florida's State Emergency Response Team (SERT) during activations for disasters and critical incidents. VOST provides information support and situational awareness by utilizing student volunteers to mine social media during incidents. This information helps SERT understand what is happening with the public and improves decision making. FSU.VOST is a unique opportunity open to interested students from EMHS and other disciplines. More information is available at

George C. Marshall Center Collaboration

Dates: 2016 - Current

Faculty, Staff and Students: Duggleby (Principal), Bell, Casserleigh

[Coming soon]

Application of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in Emergency Management and Public Safety

Dates: 2015 - Current

Faculty, Staff and Students: Merrick (Principal), Broder, McDaniel, Weins, Hart, Johnson, McDaniel (M.)

[Coming soon]

Disaster Management Training Development - Rosseau, Dominica

Dates: Summer 2016

Faculty, Staff and Students: Casserleigh (Principal), Merrick, Broder

EMHS faculty members worked closely with the Florida Association of Volunteers Active in the Caribbean and Americas (FAVACA) to conduct training sessions with local emergency managers on the island of Dominica. Trainings were designed specifically for Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) leaders with sustainability in mind so that these leaders could then train future CERT members.

Applied Emergency Management Studio - Tierra Amarilla, Atacama Desert, Chile

Dates: Summer 2016

Faculty, Staff and Students: McDaniel (Principal), Cuadra, Duggleby, Kinch, Barrios, Berges, Escobar, Rojas

Faculty, staff, and four students from the EMHS Program partnered with Candelaria Mining Company in Tierra Amarilla, Chile and the University of Chile in Santiago. Over the course of 5 days, students led trainings in disaster preparedness and, in particular, training community members on a communication plan designed specifically for the Tierra Amarilla community. Students designed the plan themselves and ultimately found their project to be a great success with project partners and participants. Community members stated that they felt better equipped to communicate with friends and family regarding the dangerous hazards and effects of natural disasters.

EMHS became initially involved in this project in the aftermath of an extreme flooding event in the Atacama Desert in March 2015. Although it is the driest place on earth, severe rains caused uncharacteristic conditions in the region, leading to the flooding of several populated areas. Tierra Amarilla, a town of about 11,000 residents, was impacted by this disaster, and many survivors lost loved ones, their homes, and possessions. In a disaster of this magnitude, it is often difficult to communicate with those affected. FSU EMHS faculty and staff advised students on the development of the communication plan for Tierra Amarilla, bearing in mind the physical and technological constraints of communication in the region.

Final Report

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Emergency Management Public Policy

Dates: 2013 - Current

Faculty, Staff and Students: Merrick (Principal), Broder, McDaniel, Weins, Hart, Johnson, McDaniel (M.)

[Coming soon]

Applied Emergency Management Studio - Meghauli, Chitwan District, Nepal

Dates: Spring 2016

Faculty, Staff and Students: Duggleby, Bell, Merrick, Broder, Casserleigh, Houston, Smith, Ransdell, Williams, Wiman

For its Spring 2016 project, the EMHS Program partnered with the prominent Nepalese non-profit organization, Clinic Nepal, to lead trainings and discussions in topics ranging from CPR/First Aid, disaster preparedness, sanitation and hygiene, and swift water safety techniques. Over the course of 7 days and 10 training sessions, five EMHS students trained nearly 250 community leaders, schoolteachers, and students.

The project was a collaborative effort between students FSU, social work students from Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, Nepal, and medical students from Ludwig-Maximillians University College of Medicine in Munich, Germany. While students from FSU brought expertise relevant to aspects of emergency management and healthcare, the Nepalese students were able to speak to the importance of mental health following a disaster. The German students were also essential to assisting with CPR/First Aid training. As a whole, the project brought together programs from all over the world to work toward a shared goal: a more disaster-resistant Nepal.

Final Report

Applied Emergency Management Studio - San Mateo, Ambergris Caye, Belize

Dates: Summer 2015

Faculty, Staff and Students: Casserleigh (Principal), McDaniel, Merrick, Broder, Duggleby, Shannon, Crozier, Gallagher, Hart, Kinch, Lemarque, Rogers

The Disaster Incident Research Team (DIRT), consisting of faculty, staff, and six student researchers, conducted field research in San Mateo, gathering information on demographics and resources within the community. The team partnered with the Belize Red Cross, whose members provided vital insight and knowledge about San Mateo and the greater island community.

The project was divided into two parts:

  • Teams of EMHS staff and student researchers surveyed San Mateo community members to gather data on the community’s vulnerabilities to disaster. Community members were asked primarily about infrastructure, utilities, and bills and taxes paid to the local government.
  • Members of EMHS faculty and staff, comprising the UAS flight operations team, flew several missions throughout San Mateo. Employing the use of small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS), the team took photos and recorded video of the community so as to construct orthographic photos and gain a better understanding of the physical aspects of San Mateo.

Final Report

Informal Settlers and Disasters

Dates: 2011 - 2015

Faculty, Staff and Students: Dilling (Principal), Samples, Cuadra, Brower, Merrick, Culkin

More than a billion people live in marginal and informal settlements, many without access to basic services, and very frequently in high-risk areas. Their vulnerability to disaster events is often compounded by a lack of infrastructure, environmental degradation, and increasing challenges exacerbated by climate change and sea level rise. If there is so much technology for prediction and prevention, why do governments/donors continue to struggle with losses in the same communities, disaster after disaster? Evidence in the scientific community leads us to believe the answer to this question lies in the process of how human settlements are established and the underlying factors that encourage the population within those communities to establish in high risk areas.

Publications Include

Cuadra, J and Dilling, J. “Relocation of Disaster-prone Informal Settlements: Development Opportunity or Perpetuation of Poverty?” ACSP 2015, USA

Cuadra, J, Dilling, J, Brower, R and Samples, M. “Current Relocation Practices Targeting Disaster Prone Communities in Developing Countries: Case Study San Francisco Libre, Nicaragua”. TIEMS Japan 2014. Published: Journal of Disaster Research Vol.10No.2: Special Issue 2015

Dilling, J, Brower, R, Cuadra, J, and Samples, M. “Informal Settlers, Government Officials, and Disaster Vulnerability: Experience from the Philippines” ICCEM 2014 Portugal. Keynote Presentation. Published: Journal of Safety and Crisis Management Vol 4 2014

Brower. Ralph S., Dilling, Janet, Magno, Francisco, A, Evolving and Implementing a New Disaster Management Paradigm: The Case of the Philippines, Book Chapter in Disasters and Development (Kapucu and Liou, eds). 2013

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Applied Emergency Management Studio - Ile a Vache, Haiti

Dates: Spring 2014

Faculty, Staff and Students: Merrick (Principal), McDaniel, Casserleigh, Broder, Danley, Dubosar, Duggleby, Ewbank, Ford, Hurtado, Johnson, Makowski, Mutnansky, Resnick

EMHS Program’s first international student research project was comprised of four objectives:

  • Update potable water source information on Île-à-Vache – Some data exists on water sources on the island. Building on that data, the EMHS team conducted site surveys of all identifiable and accessible water sources and tested for accessibility, quality, and salinity, with the focus of identifying water sources that are most likely to be viable after a disaster.
  • Develop a methodology to review public structures to include shelters and critical facilities and mission essential functions (MEF) equipment – Construction techniques and location indicate that many private residences on the island will not withstand a significant storm. There is also not sufficient transportation to evacuate those at risk off the island. Therefore, it is critical to identify locations on the island in which residents can take refuge.
  • Develop a comprehensive hazard map of the island – New elevation data and maps were required to produce a hazard map. Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) were utilized to capture high resolution aerial photos of the island, from which terrain models and orthographic photos could be constructed.
  • Develop community outreach material outlining the data collected and planning accomplished – Teams worked to develop materials targeted at specific audiences, with simplified, easy-to-understand material available for communities, local government, and planners.

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