Kristy A. Lewis, Assistant Professor of Coastal Ecology at SMCM, received highly competitive funding from a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Gulf Research Program Synthesis Grant to participate in a collaborative project titled: Community Cohesion and Recovery after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The work is crucial to disaster management as it examines a community’s ability to self-organize and mobilize after a major disruption such as the oil spill occurring in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
Dr. Lewis’ two-year $77,000 award is part of a larger overall NAS award ($590,000; NAS Award # 200007629) directed by principal investigator Dr. So-Min Cheong at the University of Kansas Center for Research. Dr. Lewis will be the key personnel driving the ecological analyses while also working closely with collaborator Jacob Model of Stanford University to develop a comprehensive database of social and ecological data, called the Community Response Inventory (CRI). Dr. Lewis and collaborators will then develop statistical models to assess the association between the presence of local nonprofits, density of those networks, and how the ecological health of the system drives the ability of nonprofits, and thus communities, to respond to oil spills.
Specifically, the planned research uses environmental data in combination with community-level social and economic data to generate novel insights on community impact from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It fills an important gap in social capital and community resilience literature by bringing attention to organizations and nonprofits, and helps develop community skills to mobilize and coordinate. This project will also provide funding for an undergraduate research assistant at SMCM to support Dr. Lewis with her research. Dr. Lewis transitioned from a visiting assistant professor position to a tenure-track assistant professor position in July 2017 and will continue this research into 2018.
Research reported in this article was supported by the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine under award number: 200007629.