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FAU Professors Receive National Science Foundation Grant to Expand Study on Haitian Disaster Recovery

BOCA RATON, FL (August 29, 2012) – Florida Atlantic University professors Alka Sapat, Ph.D., associate professor of public administration, and Ann-Margaret Esnard, Ph.D., urban and regional planning professor and director of the visual planning technology lab, have received a $300,000 research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their study titled, “Diaspora Advocacy Coalitions and Networks: A Focus on Haiti’s Disasters.” This research builds on their recently completed Rapid Response Research grant work on Haiti, also funded by NSF, by focusing on Haitian diaspora groups and their social and policy networks within the U.S. and transnationally to understand their role in fostering disaster resilience and recovery after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

The study area will focus on areas with large concentrations of Haitian-American populations and diaspora groups: South Florida, New York, Boston, and Atlanta. In-depth interviews and online surveys will serve as the primary research method, and will be conducted with members of Haitian-American community groups, as well as other key stakeholders including: non-profit organizations, local, state, and federal officials, international aid organizations, and immigration officials and advocates.

This is the third NSF grant that Sapat and Esnard have received since 2007 to study catastrophic disasters, displacement dilemmas and resilience.  The first was a three-year, $300,000 grant, which focused on displacement in the U.S. due to catastrophic hurricanes, found at ; the second was a Rapid Research Grant which focused on the role of agencies and community groups in South Florida and the role they played in the months immediately following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, found at .

The findings are expected to transform and extend existing knowledge and theories related to policy networks, advocacy coalitions, collaboration, and network governance. Potential contributions span and benefit those in disciplines that are involved with emergency management, disaster planning and recovery, social network ties and related analyses, homeland security, infrastructure planning, post-disaster economic development, evacuation, sheltering, and housing recovery. This research will ultimately help international aid agencies, host communities, advocacy groups, governmental and non-governmental organizations foster disaster recovery and development and will inform effective resource allocation, along with responses to future disasters and disaster-induced migration.

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


Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 29,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit

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