Rice experts available during 2012 hurricane season

David Ruth

Jeff Falk

Rice experts available during 2012 hurricane season
Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30

HOUSTON – (May 24, 2012) – The following Rice University experts are available leading up to and throughout the 2012 North Atlantic hurricane season:

John Anderson, professor of Earth science and author of the book ”The Formation and Future of the Upper Texas Coast,” can explain how hurricanes have impacted and helped to draw the modern coastlines of Texas, Louisiana, Florida and other Gulf Coast states.

Phil Bedient, professor of civil engineering and director of the Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disaster (SSPEED) Center, is available to discuss flooding issues that could arise on the Gulf Coast from slow-moving tropical depressions or hurricanes. In his new book “Lessons from Hurricane Ike,” Bedient and more than 20 other researchers give a 194-page account of what they have learned in more than two years of studying Ike, which caused nearly $25 billion in damages and killed dozens.

Leonardo Duenas-Osorio, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, is available to talk about power outages caused by debris-induced failures at the distribution level of the power grid. These disruptions are commonly caused by wind speed. He said besides wind speed, rainfall and associated debris, outages are also influenced by the amount of overhead lines, pole-mounted transformers, switches and other exposed equipment.

Stephen Klineberg, co-director of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research and professor of sociology, has studied how Houstonians’ attitudes toward Hurricane Katrina evacuees have changed. He said, “Houstonians were far more worried about crime and more negative about ethnic relations and immigration in Houston in the two to three years following Katrina; however, all of these downward trends have turned around.”

Bob Stein, professor of political science, can talk about government reaction to a storm and the politics that are in play.

Mark Jones, professor and chair of political science and fellow in political science at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, can discuss government reaction to a storm and the politics that are in play.

Melissa Marschall, associate professor of political science, can talk about the hurricane’s impact on schools and education. She can address how Hurricane Katrina affected the Houston Independent School District and the children and families who were displaced.

Vivian Ho, chair of health economics at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and professor of economics, can discuss the health issues evacuees face upon displacement; the results of a study she co-authored, “Physical and Mental Health Status of Hurricane Katrina Evacuees in Houston in 2005 and 2006,” are summarized here: (.pdf)

Ken Medlock and Amy Myers Jaffe, fellows in energy policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, can discuss the effects of hurricanes on energy infrastructure, specifically what can happen to gasoline prices around the country when refining infrastructure is forced to be down for an extended time.

Jamie Padgett, assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering, has assessed dozens of bridges in the Houston-Galveston area and created a map and database of bridges that are most vulnerable to failure during a hurricane.

George Hirasaki, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and Satish Nagarajaiah, professor of civil and environmental engineering, can talk about a hurricane’s threat to off-shore drilling platforms.

Terry Hemeyer, adjunct professor in Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business and a crisis communications expert, can discuss the ongoing communications challenges and public relations strategies government agencies and corporations face in the time of a disaster.

Pedro Alvarez, chair of civil and environmental engineering, can discuss the environmental impact and the cleanup efforts communities could face if a large hurricane strikes.

Vikas Mittal, professor of marketing at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, can talk about corporate responsibility and response during disasters.


Related materials:

2012 North Atlantic storm names:

Alberto (Already used this year)

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is known for its “unconventional wisdom.” With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 4 for “best value” among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to www.rice.edu/nationalmedia/Rice.pdf.

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.