National Science Foundation Grant Awarded

Last year, 16 U.S. natural disasters caused 362 deaths and a record $306 billion in damages. Hurricanes contributed to the highest amount of damage followed by wildfires, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.After 2017’s record year of billion-dollar disaster events, identifying lessons learned and best practices from the response and recovery efforts can streamline future collaborations in times of crisis.
Daniel Sledge, left, and Herschel Thomas

The National Science Foundation recently awarded Daniel Sledge, a UTA associate professor of political science, and Herschel Thomas, a UTA assistant professor of political science, a research grant to study and report findings on this topic.“It is crucial for those impacted by natural disasters that we better understand the role of nongovernmental entities following such crises,” said Sledge, co-director of the UTA Health Politics Data Initiative. The Initiative’s goal is to create a data-based framework for mapping the ideas, processes and institutions that shape health politics.The NSF research will address how NGOs, faith-based organizations and businesses identify and fill gaps in the government’s capacity to respond to a natural disaster.
“We hope that this research project will contribute to the ability of governments at the state, local and national level to coordinate their efforts with those of non-state service providers, such as organizations and businesses,” said Thomas, co-director of the UTA Health Politics Data Initiative. Sledge and Thomas have conducted extensive field research in natural disaster areas within Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and California.
Thomas and Sledge are currently analyzing quantitative survey data as well as indicators of social vulnerability, disaster response and recovery.“Non-profits and private organizations are essential in responding to natural disasters,” Thomas said. “Our research seeks to understand how these organizations coordinate with government and will contribute to the healthy recovery of communities affected by disasters.”
Rebecca Deen, chair of the UTA Department of Political Science, said, “The work that Dr. Sledge and Dr. Thomas are doing is important to our understanding of how communities survive and thrive in the face of adversity.”