Elyse Zavar ’07, assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Management and Disaster Science at the University of North Texas, was selected as a 2020 Early-Career Research Fellow by the Gulf Coast Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The fellowship program funds early-career researchers’ work on Gulf Coast communities and ecosystems. It will allow Zavar to continue her research on buyout programs, which relocate residents out of high-risk areas in the Gulf Coast region and convert the land to open space.
“My research and teaching focus on hazard mitigation and long-term community recovery from disasters. Buyouts are one form of mitigation as they attempt to reduce exposure to hazards,” Zavar explained. “As communities face new challenges brought on by the climate crisis, buyouts will continue to increase as a form of mitigation and adaptation to the impacts of climate change.”
Zavar majored in geology at The College of Wooster after loving her First-Year Seminar class with Greg Wiles, the Schoolroy Chair of Natural Resources and professor of earth sciences and archeology. “After my freshman year, I worked on a summer research project with him and really wanted to understand more about environmental processes and climate change,” she said.
While in a geography master’s program at the University of California, Los Angeles, Zavar developed her particular interest in environmental hazards and disasters. She decided to pursue a Ph.D. focused on hazard geography because of her passion for research sparked at Wooster.
“I had many opportunities to participate in research projects while at Wooster,” Zavar said. “So many of my classes included experiential learning and getting out into the world to see conceptions in action. These experiences provided me with the foundation that has influenced every aspect of my academic career.”
This research fellowship will allow Zavar to continue to develop her career. “This is an incredible opportunity to further my research and connect with other researchers with similar interests related to the health of Gulf Coast communities,” she said.