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19-19. Frontline and under-served communities: Multi-hazard research, engagement, and products to inform risk reduction


Closing Date: January 4, 2021

This Research Opportunity will be filled depending on the availability of funds. All application materials must be submitted through USAJobs by 11:59 pm, US Eastern Standard Time, on the closing date.

How to Apply

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USGS hazard science supports the safety and security of the Nation by enabling well-informed decisions to safeguard communities against a wide range of natural hazards including floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, coastal change hazards, and wildfires. USGS multi-hazard products for planning and situational awareness include: 

  • Geospatial analyses of multi-hazard exposures (e.g., Strategic Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment, SHIRAHayWired

  • Models of coastal processes with sea-level rise and storms (Coastal Storm Modeling System, CoSMoS; Hazard Exposure Reporting and Analytics, HERA)  

  • Communication about volcanic hazards: (International Volcanic Health Hazard Network, IVHHNMangan and others, 2019)  

  • Research on climate change, wildfires and flooding effects on ecosystems  

More than ever, there is a pressing need to understand, analyze, and communicate interactions of concurrent and cascading hazards (geological, biological, meteorological) for use in planning and situational awareness applications. Communities, planners, and disaster responders at all levels are seeking information and support to understand the synergies and trade-offs in risk reduction (mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery) policies and actions across multiple hazards. Recent, CONVERGE COVID-19 working groups assembled timely and relevant public health and social sciences research agendas including topics of 1. Compound Hazards and Cascading Disasters (including GeohazardsExtreme Weather eventsWildfireClimate Change) and 2. Longitudinal Risk Communication.  

The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color is only the latest example of how under-served populations are disproportionately exposed to and impacted by disasters, in addition to being uniquely overburdened by other risk factors (e.g., Mileti, 1999, Disaster by Design). Developing equitable approaches to stakeholder engagement requires careful consideration of community values, and how a community handles power, advocacy, equity, justice, ethics, and knowledge exploitation (e.g., Jordan and others, 2018). Scientists and stakeholders must collaborate to match community needs and priorities with actionable insights, research, products, and tools, using advances in technology to improve information discovery and delivery (USGS Risk Plan, Ludwig and others, 2018).   

Description of the Research Opportunity: 

The prospective Mendenhall fellow will develop a 2-year research proposal in their area of interest and expertise that advances USGS priorities in the Natural Hazard Mission Area, Hazard programs and Risk Plan. Research opportunities for multi-hazard science and equitable approaches to stakeholder engagement may include:  

  1. Evaluation of USGS multi-hazard research products with respect to how and how well they reflect input from, impacts to, and science support for underserved communities. The latter may consider improvements to community access to information, recovery funding, appropriate protective measures, and timely healthcare. Outcomes may include recommendations for improving future products.  
  2. Development of inclusive approaches to equitable stakeholder needs assessment for USGS multi-hazard research and related publications and training materials. 
  3. Development of a multi-hazard planning or situational awareness product serving a diverse set of communities particularly the traditionally underserved, such as poor, minority, and native tribal communities. This may involve integration of existing hazard-specific research into an innovative multi-hazard product.  
  4. Research to inform science communication of compounding, sequential and/or concurrent multi-hazards with a strong focus on how to communicate effectively with underserved communities.  
  5. Expansion of existing USGS multi-hazard projects to diversify stakeholder engagement and develop hazard interactions (e.g., fire following earthquake and wildland fire, interactions with public and environmental health). 
  6. Development of research into hazard interactions among earthquakes, coastal processes, wildfires, landslides, and/or volcanoes in the context of climate change and the cumulative impacts on diverse communities.   
  7. Demonstration of a case study engagement eliciting a community’s knowledge, experience, and perceptions of hazard, vulnerability, and opportunities, compared to geospatial and technical analyses of community vulnerability to multi-hazards. 
  8. Development of human-centric and technological approaches to improving multi-hazard planning or situational awareness products during the constraints of a pandemic and beyond.  

Finally, regarding the Bureau’s new vision for 21st century USGS science, this opportunity will increase understanding of what types of multi-hazard “intelligences” are genuinely informative to diverse communities in a way that enables action. Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Research Advisor(s) early in the application process to discuss project ideas. 

Proposed Duty Station:  Moffett Field, CA 

Areas of PhD: Hazard science, social science, health science, data science, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines, but with extensive knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered). 

Qualifications: Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications: Research GeographerResearch Social ScientistResearch SociologistResearch StatisticianOperations Research Analyst  

(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above.  However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources specialist.) 

Human Resources Office Contact: Beverly Ledbetter, 916-278-9396, 

Apply Here