Leadership Team

Project Leads

Deborah Thomas (PI and Program Coordinator), Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Geography & Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver, with secondary appointments in the School of Public Affairs and the Colorado School of Public Health/Environmental and Occupational Health. Shespecializes in hazards and health geography, and has twenty years of experience working with geographic information systems (GIS) in a variety of social science application areas, including health and disaster management. Her research and teaching interests focus on issues of vulnerability/resilience as they relate to both natural and human-induced hazards and health outcomes, particularly at the intersection of human-physical systems and the built environment. She was an Enabling Fellow in the second round.

Brian Gerber (co-PI), Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at the School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado Denver. He is also the director of the concentration in Emergency Management and Homeland Security in the School’s MPA program. Brian received his PhD from Stony Brook University (SUNY) in 2000. His research specialization areas include disaster policy and management, homeland security policy and administration, and environmental regulatory policy. Previously, he has served as Executive Director of the Buechner Institute for Governance at the University of Colorado Denver, as Research Director for the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute at Louisiana State University, and has been a Research Associate with West Virginia University’s Regional Research Institute. Publications with co-authors received national research article-of-the-year awards in 2008 and 2009. He sits on the executive committee of the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships, is a member of the Denver Board of Environmental Health, is an editorial board member for Policy Studies Journal and for Risk, Hazards and Crisis in Public Policy.And of most relevance here, he is a proud alum of the Next Generation of Hazards Researchers program—gaining his exposure to the field with the second cohort of fellows.

Samuel Brody (co-PI), Ph.D., is a Professor and holder of the George P. Mitchell ’40 Chair in Sustainable Coasts in the Departments of Marine Sciences and Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M University. He is the Director of Center for Texas Beaches and Shores and the Co-Director of the Institute for Sustainable Coastal Communities. Dr. Brody’s research focuses on coastal environmental planning, spatial analysis, flood mitigation, climate change policy, and natural hazards mitigation. He has published numerous scientific articles on flood risk and mitigation, and recently authored the book, Rising Waters: The causes and consequences of flooding in the United States published by Cambridge University Press. Dr. Brody teaches graduate courses in environmental planning and sustainable/resilient coastal development. He has also worked in both the public and private sectors to help local coastal communities to environmental and flood mitigation plans. For more information, please visit www.tamug.edu/ctbs or www.tamug.edu/ISCC.

Advisory Committee


Thomas A. (Tom) Birkland, Ph.D., is the William T. Kretzer Professor of Public Policy at North Carolina State University, where he also the Associate Dean for Research and Engagement in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. In his current role, Dr. Birkland coordinates research and outreach programs for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. He received his PhD from the University of Washington, Seattle. At North Carolina State, he teaches courses on disaster policy and on the policy process. Dr. Birkland’s research is in theories of the policy process, focusing on agenda change, policy change, and learning. He is also an internationally known expert on policies related to natural disasters and industrial accidents. He is the author of After Disaster and Lessons of Disaster. His recent interests have focused on whether and to what extent people and institutions learn from disasters. He remains interested in how disasters influence political agendas and lead to policy change. Dr. Birkland was a member of the first cohort of the junior faculty fellows in the Enabling Project (1997), was a project advisor for the second iteration, and was the project lead for the third iteration of the program in 2008.

Tom Cova, Ph.D., is Professor of Geography and Director of the Center for Natural & Technological Hazards at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He has a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Oregon and a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of California Santa Barbara where he was an Eisenhower Fellow. His research and teaching interests are environmental hazards, transportation, and geographic information science. He has published in many leading hazards, transportation, and GIScience journals, and is most known for work on evacuation modeling and analysis in fire-prone communities. He served as Chair of the GIS and Hazards Specialty Groups of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) and Program Chair for the International Conference of Geographic Information Science (GIScience ’08). He teaches courses in hazards geography, emergency management, and GIS.

Reginald DesRoches, Ph.D., is the Karen and John Huff Chair and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His primary research interests are design of buildings and critical infrastructure under earthquake loads. He has a particular interest in mitigating the impacts of earthquakes and other natural hazards in the Caribbean and Western Africa. He has published over 200 articles in the general area of earthquake engineering. Dr. DesRoches has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2002. Most recently, he was a recipient of the 2007 ASCE Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize, and the Georgia Tech ANAK Award (2008). The ANAK award is considered the highest honor the undergraduate student body can bestow on a Georgia Tech faculty. Additional honors include the the Georgia Tech.

Kathleen Tierney at the University of Colorado and the Director of the Natural Hazards Center