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About Us

Named for the Mayan and Taino god for whom the word hurricane is derived, this project draws from a number of fields—including meteorology, environmental anthropology, data visualization, human factors, and community engagement—to address a critical gap in visual hurricane forecast products: making them easily understood by the public, particularly in underserved communities. This interdisciplinary team from the University of Miami is focused on improving interpretations of hurricane forecast products among different user groups, in particular vulnerable populations in South Florida.


Motivation


While mortality and morbidity from hurricanes in the U.S. has declined, their economic cost has been increasing. Further, the burden of preparation, evacuation, response, and recovery during these events is often experienced disproportionately by vulnerable populations.

We know that environmental risk is not allocated equally, especially for underserved populations who, because of limited resources for adequate preparation and recovery, often bear a disproportionate burden of these natural disasters.

Research Focus


Among the myriad of factors affecting vulnerability to extreme weather events such as hurricanes, relatively little attention has been paid to the communication of risk and uncertainty. Having a better understanding of the risks associated with a hurricane will improve the chances of saving lives and mitigating property and economic losses.

Our goal is to design an information provision system that communicates the minimal critical pieces of information to the maximum number of people from diverse backgrounds.

Objectives


This project responds to a national need to improve graphical communication of probabilistic hurricane forecasts, in a form that the general public and decision makers can understand.

Our main objectives are to develop a set of visual products that can help the public make better decisions to protect themselves from hurricanes and the implementation of design ideas generated from this project by the NHC and media, while continuing assessments for future improvement.

Our Team


Drawing from several fields, including meteorology, environmental anthropology, decision sciences, community engagement, data visualization, human factors, and natural hazards research, our interdisciplinary team is focused on improving interpretations of hurricane forecast products among different user groups, in particular vulnerable populations in South Florida. Five faculty members and two graduate students are on our team.

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Barbara Millet, PhD

Human Factors

Barbara Millet, PhD is faculty of Cinema & Interactive Media at the School of Communication. Her research focuses on the impact of visual and auditory elements on information processing of interactive media, psychophysiological measures as indicators of cognitive and emotional response to interactive media, and the design of user interfaces and their influences on human performance and engagement.

She is also Director of the University of Miami User Experience Lab, an academic-based research facility that supports interdisciplinary research on understanding how people use information systems.

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Sharan Majumdar, PhD

Atmospheric Sciences

Sharan Majumdar, PhD is a Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at RSMAS. He earned his B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Mathematics from Cambridge University.

Together with his research staff and students, he explores the predictability of tropical cyclones, including sensitivity diagnostics, ensemble prediction, optimizing current and future observing systems, and data assimilation. He is also a prominent working group member of national and international organizations, including the World Meteorological Organization.

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Scotney Evans, PhD

Community Psychologist

Scotney Evans, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational and Psychological Studies in the School of Education and Human Development. He teaches and advises students in the undergraduate program in Human and Social Development, the master’s program in Community and Social Change, and the PhD program in Community Well-being.

He is a community psychologist and community-engaged researcher working to understand and support the role of community-based organizations, networks, and coalitions in building collective power to promote community wellbeing, social change, and social justice. Dr. Evans is also the editor of the online journal Collaborations: A Journal of Community-Based Research and Practice.

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Alberto Cairo, PhD

Visualization and Infographics

Alberto Cairo, PhD is the Knight Chair in Visual Journalism and an Associate Professor at the University of Miami and the director of the visualization program at UM’s Center for Computational Science. He is the author of the books How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter About Visual Information (W.W. Norton, upcoming Fall 2019), The Truthful Art: Data, Maps, and Charts for Communication (PeachPit Press, Pearson Education 2016), and The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization (PeachPit Press, Pearson Education 2013). He has taught at UM since 2012, after a long career as a director of visualization and infographics at news publications in Spain and Brazil. He is also a permanent visualization consultant for companies and institutions such as Google and the Congressional Budget Office.

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Kenny Broad, PhD

Environmental Anthropologist

Kenny Broad, PhD has participated in extreme scientific and filmmaking expeditions on every continent to gather information and samples that shed light on little-known environmental and cultural subjects. Broad and the late Wes Skiles received the National Geographic Explorer of the Year award in 2011.

He regularly collaborates with ecologists, climatologists, hydrologists, psychologists, and a range of other strange ‘-ologists’ and has published dozens of scientific articles on topics ranging from risk perception to venomous snakes to natural resource management.

He is currently a professor at the University of Miami where he directs the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. He is also co-director of the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions at Columbia University.

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Carolina Diaz

Graduate Research Assistant
MFA Interactive Media

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Qinyu Ding

Graduate Research Assistant
MFA Interactive Media

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Leigh Rauk

Graduate Research Assistant
PhD Candidate School of Education