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Laurel Dillon-Sumner

MPH Health Services, Health Systems & Policy Concentration, Class of 2018

What is your research topic?

My research explores Community Resilience through qualitative methods including focus groups and interviews. I am interested in learning what communities and public health departments can do to systematically and sustainably build capacities associated with resilient communities. For example, access to appropriate healthcare services and strong cross sector partnerships are important on an everyday basis as well as during and after disasters.

Who did you partner with to conduct your research?

Effective partnerships are a foundational building block for Community Resilience, and I partnered with Public Health- Seattle & King County and the Somali Health Board to explore this topic.

What is the geographical focus of your research?

My research is currently focused on King County, WA, but my interest spans local, regional, national, and international systems.

How can the findings of your research impact or inform resilience to extreme events?

My research findings contribute to the literature on resilience to extreme events by describing specific domains that are associated with increased community resilience. My Capstone utilized an existing theoretical model that posits certain "levers" including education, partnerships, and self-sufficiency are associated with increased resilience to disasters. My findings provide additional insights into how this framework can be operationalized by different stakeholders including community-based health promotion organizations and public health departments.

What have you learned from working on this project? How will it inform your future work and career?

Working with partners from across sectors and backgrounds to better understand Community Resilience has helped me learn how to effectively communicate with different stakeholders, utilize methods appropriate to answer specific questions, explore theoretical frameworks and their applicability to real-world events, and much more. I learned that different stakeholders have a lot to teach researchers, and that open, clear, consistent communication between partners is one of the most important factors to successful partnerships.

Related publications/accepted presentations

I will present on my project Exploring Community Resilience at the 2018 NNPHI conference and plan to write a manuscript for JPHMP based on my findings.