Conference Nov. 7 to Focus on Disasters, Resilience

Mid-November seminar to address impact of environmental regulations on pollution reduction and labor demand in China

first responders

A Nov. 7 conference will focus on human and environmental resilience in the wake of disasters.

RIVERSIDE, California – Scholars, policymakers, and nonprofit leaders will gather for an all-day conference focused on human and environmental resilience in the wake of disasters on Monday, Nov. 7, at the University of California, Riverside.

The conference, “Disasters, Extreme Events, Trauma and Resilience: Responders and Researchers Working Together,” is free and open to the public. The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Highlander Union Building 355 and 367. Lunch will be provided. Free parking will be available in Lot 24. Registration is required and may be made online.

The event is co-sponsored by the UCR Blum Initiative on Global and Regional Poverty, Center for Ideas and Society, College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, and School of Public Policy.

Conference participants will explore the interplay between academic research, public policy, and emergency management, and the impact of these interactions on human and environmental resilience.

Maria Dillard

Maria Dillard

Keynote speaker Maria Dillard is a research social scientist for the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Community Resilience Group, where her research focuses on community resilience with an emphasis on the social dimensions of disasters and recovery. Her work includes development and application of a measurement model for community well-being after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, integrated assessments of community vulnerability to climate change for climate adaptation planning, and quantification of human use and dependence on natural resources.

She previously worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Centers for Coastal and Ocean Science, and has conducted social science research for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). She also has experience in community engagement through positions that focused on communications, public education, and community outreach for environmental, health care, and social issues. Dillard holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh with a focus on the measurement of social-ecological resilience for coastal and island communities.

Also presenting at the conference will be: Brian Mayer, associate professor of sociology, University of Arizona, “Resilience and Recovery in the Gulf: Bouncing Back (Or Not) from the 2010 Gulf Coast Oil Spill”; James R. Elliott, professor of sociology, Rice University, “Beyond Disaster: Taking a Broader Look at Natural Hazards and Social Vulnerability (through Nationally Representative Sampling)”; Cathy Gudis, associate professor of history at UC Riverside, “The Homeless Disaster: Art and the Politics of Representation in L.A.’s Skid Row”; Fernando Rivera, associate professor of sociology, University of Central Florida, “Resilience to Cope with Natural Disasters in a Farmworker Community”; David Abramson, clinical associate professor at the College of Global Public Health, New York University; Faith R. Kearns, water analyst at the UC California Institute for Water Resources, “Trauma in ‘Slow’ and ‘Fast’ Natural Disasters Invites Varied Perspectives and Responses”; Michael Antonucci, chief of the San Bernardino County Office of Emergency Services, “Role of Local Government Agencies in Disaster Response, Relief and Resilience”; and Debra J. Williams, president of the nonprofit Building Resilient Communities, “Engaging the Whole Community.”

Planning for Threats of Fire

Mike Esparza

Mike Esparza

Also in November, retired Riverside Interim Fire Chief Mike Esparza will discuss how California communities plan and coordinate support in the face of rising fire threats on Thursday, Nov. 17.

The lecture, “Responding to California’s Major Fire Challenges,” is part of the Randall Lewis Seminar Series presented by the Center for Sustainable Suburban Development, a research center of the UCR School of Public Policy. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Center for Environmental Research and Technology, 1084 Columbia Ave., Riverside. The event is free and open to the public. Parking is free. Reservations are requested and may be made online.

California cities and towns have been threatened with devastating fires. If there is another dry winter, the state’s potential as a tinderbox increases. Community cooperation in the face of fire danger is provided under the Master Mutual Aid System, coordinating the deployment of fire service resources where needed in an emergency. Municipal managers can plan to aid areas in crisis while providing for their own demands.

Esparza worked his way up in the Riverside Fire Department from firefighter to fire marshal, then deputy chief and interim chief, with responsibility for a $40 million budget, 241 personnel, and 14 stations. He retired in December 2014. He is assistant chief for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Fire & Rescue Branch, where he helps coordinate the Master Mutual Aid System at large-scale fires. He also served as vice chair of the California State Board of Fire Services, and on the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission Taskforce dealing with wildfire protection. Recently, he was appointed to the governor’s new California Fire Service Task Force on Climate Impacts.

Esparza graduated from Cogswell Polytechnical College with a B.S. in fire administration and fire prevention technology.

China’s Environmental Policies

Bing Zhang

Bing Zhang

The School of Public Policy Seminar Series will present Bing Zhang, professor of environmental governance and policy analysis at the School of Environment and School of Government at Nanjing University in the People’s Republic of China. He will discuss the impact of environmental regulation on pollution reduction and labor demand of manufacturing enterprises in a lecture on Friday, Nov. 18, at 12:30 p.m. in Interdisciplinary 1113.

The seminar, titled “The Cost of Blue Sky: Impact of Environmental Regulation on Labor Demand in China,” is free and open to the public. Parking permits may be obtained at the kiosk on West Campus Drive, at the University Avenue entrance to the campus. Reservations are requested as seating is limited and may be made online.

Zhang also is the director of the Center for Environmental Management and Policy Analysis, which is supported by Nanjing University and the Jiangsu Environmental Protection Department. His research focuses on environmental governance systems in China.

For more information about this event, contact Mark Manalang at (951) 827-5656 or

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Mark Manalang
Tel: (951) 827-5656

Katharine Henshaw
Tel: (951) 827-1555

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