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FAU Professors Receive Grant to Study the Roles of Haitian-Americans in Haiti Recovery Efforts

BOCA RATON, FL (March 24, 2010) – Dr. Ann-Margaret Esnard, a professor and director of the Visual Planning Technology Lab in Florida Atlantic University’s School of Urban & Regional Planning, and Dr. Alka Sapat, an associate professor in FAU’s School of Public Administration, both within the College of Architecture, Urban and Public Affairs, have received a $40,000 RAPID research grant from the National Science Foundation for their study titled, “Haitian-Americans as Critical ‘Bridges’ and ‘Lifelines’ for Recovery and Rebuilding in Haiti.” 

The research focuses on understanding the role of the Haitian-American community in relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts because of the Haiti earthquake; documenting the trends and profiles of displacee influx to South Florida; and collecting and analyzing policies and plans that have been created in the U.S. at the federal, state and local level in response to this potential (or perceived) displacee influx. 

“We initially began focusing on the place of impact, but realized that researchers need to simultaneously track the various roles played by formal governance and informal social networks in South Florida and in the U.S.,” said Esnard. “The interplay between long-term recovery efforts at individual, organization, community, regional, national and international levels is clearly just as important in this particular case.”

This is the second NSF grant that Esnard and Sapat have received since 2007 to study catastrophic disasters and displacement dilemmas.  The first is an ongoing three-year, $300,000 grant, which focuses on displacement in the U.S. due to catastrophic hurricanes.  

            Both research projects have applicability to multiple disciplines involved with school planning, emergency management, social networks, homeland security, disaster planning, evacuation, sheltering, healthcare, infrastructure planning and housing reconstruction. The newly-funded project also can inform collaborative management and policy in receiving areas where governmental institutions will need to evolve to meet the needs of displacees, including international disaster migrants.

For more information, contact Daniel Morris at 954-871-9522 or


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Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts 10 colleges: College of Architecture, Urban & Public Affairs, Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science, the College of Business, the College of Education, the College of Engineering & Computer Science, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Graduate College, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. For more information, visit .

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