Environmental, disaster studies expert to speak at ECU

Southern Sociological Society 2012 Distinguished Lecturer Shirley Laska will present “Invigorating Research” at 2 p.m. Sept. 12 in Mendenhall Student Center Room 221 at East Carolina University.

Laska is professor of sociology and director of the Center for Hazards, Assessment, Response and Technology. She is an expert in environmental sociology and author of “Catastrophe in the Making: The Engineering of Katrina and the Disasters of Tomorrow.”

Before and after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Laska has worked to understand risks, increase safety and facilitate recovery following hurricanes in the area. She has undertaken projects to assist residents in reducing flood risks to their homes and to improve the resiliency of at-risk communities, while compiling data to help emergency managers understand why residents choose not to evacuate when a hurricane was approaching.

Just prior to Katrina, Laska published research and spoke in Congressional hearings, predicting tremendous loss of life and damage if a major hurricane struck New Orleans.