Opportunities to leverage CONVERGE in the NHERI Science Plan, Third Edition

Discover vital research pathways in social sciences, natural hazards, and disaster research


Social scientists gathered data from eyewitnesses after the 2018 earthquake in Palu, Indonesia.

Boulder, Colo, Feb. 6, 2024 — The NHERI CONVERGE facility is featured in the recently published NHERI Science Plan, Third Edition, a reference work that outlines research needs in natural hazards and disaster research.

The CONVERGE facility is the first social science-led component of NHERI, the NSF-funded Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure. NHERI is a national shared-use network dedicated to mitigating damage from earthquakes, windstorms, storm surge, wildfires, and other natural hazards.

Since 2018, NHERI CONVERGE has been training researchers to integrate social science data and best practices into natural hazards engineering and multi-disciplinary research. In parallel, CONVERGE also serves as the hub for eight NSF-funded Extreme Event Reconnaissance and Research (EER) networks.

A major update. A primary goal for updating the NHERI Science Plan was to include the CONVERGE facility and the Extreme Events networks which encompass the social sciences, public health, structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, and many other disciplines. With these inclusions, the third edition of the NHERI Science Plan can better assist early career researchers to develop strong and successful research agendas that incorporate social science data and interdisciplinary approaches to data collection and analysis.

The NHERI Science Plan’s Grand Challenges and Key Research Questions identify and detail the most significant problems natural hazards researchers currently face – and presents ideas for to solving them. For instance, the need to link civil and social systems is stressed in Grand Challenge #2:

“Assess the exposure, vulnerability, and adaptive capacity of civil infrastructure and social systems in areas threatened by natural hazards.” (page 10)

Social science agendas identified. By delving into the Science Plan’s Six Key Research Questions, early career academics in social sciences and beyond will discover dozens of rich research paths that address Grand Challenges and potentially transform communities. For example, studies are needed to develop social science data and incorporate them into interdisciplinary models:

  • “Identify vulnerability indicators and metrics, both social and physical, to be employed in resiliency analyses.” (page 13) and
  • “Develop multi-scale modeling and simulation capabilities that better couple human and physical systems for the study of resilience at multiple levels.” (page 14)

Similarly, the NHERI Science Plan provides example research campaigns that incorporate ideas requiring knowledge and best practices in social science research. Campaigns include:

  • Understanding and Reducing Vulnerability of Low-Income Communities to Windstorms (A28)
  • A Community-Driven Integrated Research Campaign for Hurricanes (A34)
  • Infrastructure Impacts of Climate Change Induced Migration (A36)

A full discussion of the CONVERGE facility (C106) details its resources, including the 12 training modules that educate researchers in key principles of hazards and disaster research. CONVERGE modules have been completed by more than 9,000 students and professionals across the U.S. and in dozens of other countries.

In addition, the NHERI Science Plan includes a valuable section on researcher resources (Appendix B), which offers strategies and advice for NSF proposal development and for incorporating technology transfer into research agendas.

The NHERI Science Plan, Third Edition, is available for download in the NHERI DesignSafe Data Depot.

Researchers considering developing a research proposal that includes social science or extreme events are encouraged to explore the CONVERGE website and contact the CONVERGE facility.


Lori Peek, PhD
Principal Investigator, NHERI CONVERGE, SSEER, and ISEEER
Professor, Department of Sociology
Director, Natural Hazards Center
University of Colorado Boulder