Monday, December 17, 2012

Dynamics of Disasters Symposium at AAAS in Boston

There is much that by working together we can achieve.

In particular, by bringing disciplines together to harness our skills and expertise, there is some hope that we can help to relieve some of the suffering associated with disasters, whether natural or man-made.

I have organized a symposium for the AAAS 2013 Annual Meeting, which will take place February 14-18, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. The symposium, entitled, Dynamics of Disasters: Harnessing the Science of Networks To Save Lives, will take place on Sunday, February 17. at the Hynes Convention Center.

I would like to thank the AAAS and AMS for supporting the proposal that described this symposium. 

I would also like to thank the experts who are luminaries in their fields of engineering, operations research and management science, and optimization and supply chains and logistics, for agreeing to take part in it. Without them. and their terrific work, this symposium would not be possible. 

The discussants are: Dr. Jose Holguin-Veras, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Dr. Tina Wakolbinger, Vienna University of Economics and Business in Austria.

The speakers are:

Dr. David McLaughlin, University of Massachusetts Amherst, who will be speaking on
Chasing Storms Across Disciplines,

Dr. Laura McLay, Virginia Commonwealth University, who will speak about
The Emergency Medical and Fire Calls During Severe Weather Events, and 

Dr. Panos M. Pardalos, University of Florida, whose presentation is on Assessing the Vulnerability of Evacuation Plans via Critical Element Detection.

The motivation for organizing such a timely symposium was as follows: The number of disasters is growing as well as the number of people of affected by disasters, with accompanying societal and economic losses as vividly demonstrated by Superstorm Sandy and Hurricanes Katrina and Irene. The understanding of the dynamics of natural or man-made disasters is, hence, a problem of great importance globally.

However, due to the inherent nature of disasters, there are complex challenges: the critical infrastructure, including the transportation, logistical and communication systems, may have been severely negatively impacted and their functionality compromised; there is a short time window in which to respond with the critical needs products, which must be delivered in order to prevent loss of life and human suffering, and there may be great uncertainty due to the disruptions, among other complications.

Moreover, there may be different organizations competing for resources and the complex interactions may result in inadequate financing, inappropriate coordination and response, congestion, inadequate delivery of supplies, including of relief personnel, etc. This symposium focuses on the dynamics of disasters, through the prism of mathematical modeling and the science of networks, to address such issues as prediction, communications, response and recovery, and the resiliency of evacuation networks. This symposium is intended to be accessible to a general scientific audience and will communicate the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary approach for the investigation of critical real-world phenomena. 

We hope that you can join us for the AAAS 2013 Annual Meeting and for our symposium.