Coffee Hour: Are Happiest Cities Most Resilient to Disasters? – Challenges in Community Resilience Assessment

March 22, 2019
3:30 pm
Refreshments: 319 Walker Building; Lecture: 112 Walker Building

Are Happiest Cities Most Resilient to Disasters? – Challenges in Community Resilience Assessment

Coffee Hour with Nina S. Lam, Professor & Abraham Distinguished Professor of Louisiana Environmental Studies, Department of Environmental Sciences, Louisiana State University

About the talk

A 2014 report published by the National Bureau of Economic Research ranked American cities according to residents’ “happiness”. The results have surprised many people. This brings to a question that is closely related to resilience and sustainability research: are the happiest cities also most resilient to disasters? The answer to the question relies on how we measure community resilience. However, despite the extensive literature on the topic, there is not yet a commonly adopted metric to assess resilience to disasters. This presentation outlines the major challenges related to resilience assessment. It describes a new model developed by the author, called the Resilience Inference Measurement (RIM) model, to assess community resilience. A number of applications will be shown. The presentation concludes with some perspectives on new research directions in resilience and sustainability research.


About the speaker

Nina LamNina Lam is Professor and E.L. Abraham Distinguished Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Louisiana State University. She was Chair of the Department (2007-2010), Program Director of Geography and Spatial Sciences Program at National Science Foundation (1999-2001), and President of the University Consortium on Geographic Information Science (UCGIS, 2004). Professor Lam’s research interests are in GIS, remote sensing, spatial analysis, environmental health, and disaster resilience. She has published on topics including spatial interpolation, fractals, cancer mortality, scale and uncertainties, AIDS in America, business recovery in New Orleans after Katrina, community resilience assessment, coastal vulnerability modeling using a coupled natural-human system approach, and most recently social media use in disaster. Professor Lam has published two edited books and over 100 refereed articles. She has served as the PI or co-PI of 50 some external grants. She has mentored 8 post-docs, 20 PhDs, and 30 MS students. She has served on numerous national and international advisory panels such as NAS, NRC, NSF, NIH, NIEH, EPA, and NASA. In 2004, Professor Lam was honored with an Outstanding Contributions in Remote Sensing Award by the Remote Sensing Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers. In 2016, Lam received the Inaugural Carolyn Merry Mentoring Award and the UCGIS Fellow Award. Within LSU, Lam had been recognized with a number of awards, including Distinguished Faculty, Rainmaker, Distinguished Research Master, and Outstanding Faculty Research Awards.


Suggested readings

Lam NSN, Reams M, Li K, Li C, Mata L. 2016. Measuring community resilience to coastal hazards along the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Natural Hazards Review 17(1):04015013.

Lam NSN, Xu YJ, Liu KB, Dismukes DE, Reams M, Pace RK, Qiang Y, Narra S, Li K, Bianchette TA, Cai H, Zou L, Mihunov V. 2018. Understanding the Mississippi River Delta as a coupled natural-human system: Research methods, challenges, and prospects. Water 2018, 10, 1054.


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