The ECO team ensures that NHERI’s natural hazards educational resources, including the annual Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program and NHERI Summer Institute, are available to students and teachers at all levels. The NHERI ECO team also provides news and information about NHERI research, work dedicated to making our world more resilient to natural disasters.
The primary mission of the ECO group is to raise awareness of the NHERI program within the hazard research community and foster participation in NHERI among researchers, faculty, students, K-12 educators, and professionals in the various engineering and scientific fields affiliated with natural hazards. This outreach is accomplished through the efforts of the ECO Committee and the various programs administered by the ECO group.
The NHERI-wide ECO team is led by JoAnn Browning, professor and dean of engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio and co-PI of the NHERI NCO. She is assisted by co-leader and director of educational programming, Karina Vielma, assistant professor of engineering education, and Robin Nelson, post-doctoral research fellow and education program coordinator (also from UTSA).
In addition, Cheryl Ann Blain, NHERI communications lead and research scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory at Stennis Space Center, and Marti Lachance, NHERI communications manager at Purdue University lead the NHERI-wide communication efforts, including the NHERI newsroom, social media, and internal and external messaging.
The NHERI Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Summer Program hosts 2-3 students at the eleven NHERI experimental, cyber, and simulation sites. Undergraduate students conduct research during the 10-week program. The ECO Committee oversees this program and provides valuable input to the design and implementation of the NHERI REU Summer Program.
In fall of 2021, the NHERI ECO launched the NHERI GSC to act as a unifying community for graduate students focused on natural hazards. The organization is student led and connects members with NHERI resources, mentors, and others in the natural hazard’s community. Boasting over 200 members in the first year, the group develops and hosts programming virtually with the continued support of the NHERI community.
The NHERI Summer Institute brings together early career faculty, graduate students, industry researchers, and K-12 educators for an intensive, hands-on workshop to learn about the NHERI resources and develop new ones in research, practice, and education. One focus of the annual event is to give early career faculty and graduate students information about writing a research grant proposal to help utilize the NHERI network facilities. NHERI experimental facility PIs meet with participants to discuss their proposals and exchange knowledge to help strengthen research projects and maximize the use of the various natural hazards engineering resources. The Summer Institute is held during the summer at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
The ECO group strives to help NHERI build partnerships with other organizations and research programs within natural hazards fields. Building strong bonds with affiliated programs will spread outreach even further into new areas and expand the NHERI community. New avenues for collaboration will strengthen the NHERI program and widen the opportunities of all within the natural hazards research world.
Community members are welcome to email the ECO team with any comments, suggestions, or concerns about the outreach efforts of the NHERI program. Interested organizations or research programs who wish to partner with NHERI for outreach between our collective communities are also invited to reach out to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org.