Shannon Gonick

B.A. Public Health, Class of 2018

What is your research topic?

This study explores if and how the evolving threat of climate change is considered in hazard mitigation planning in US states and territories. Mitigation planners were surveyed about the integration of climate change into their jurisdiction’s State Hazard Mitigation Plan, including whether they are prioritizing climate change in their planning processes, whether updates to State Hazard Mitigation Plans include more climate change-related content, and the facilitators and barriers to climate change integration.

What was the geographical focus of your research?

This project focuses on state- and territory-level hazard mitigation planning across the United States. The content is specific to the hazard mitigation efforts of each jurisdiction, but it will shed light on the landscape of climate change-related hazard mitigation practices across the nation.

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

Climate change influences the frequency and intensity of natural hazards, so hazard mitigation offers practical opportunities to increase resilience to extreme events like hurricanes, flooding, and extreme temperatures. The assessment of climate change integration into hazard mitigation planning in US states and territories will reveal opportunities to expand or further promote such climate change considerations, which can enable communities to more effectively mitigate natural hazards and increase their resilience to extreme events.

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

Through my work on this project I have gained a deeper understanding of how diverse factors converge to impede evidence-based policymaking, including gaps in technical knowledge, resource constraints, and insufficient political will. I am preparing for a career in health policy research, so this project has provided me with a more holistic vision for what it takes to implement evidence-based policy and given me an opportunity to develop foundational research skills—such as survey design, data analysis, and the conceptualization and execution of a study from start to finish—that I can apply in future roles.