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    Gavin Smith
    Gavin is an Associate Research Professor; Executive Director, UNC Center for the Study of Natural Hazards and Disasters; Executive Director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Coastal Hazards Center of Excellence – Research Lead
    404 New East
    work919.606.5578 (phone)
    fax919.962.5206 (fax)
    Dr. Smith’s research interests include hazard mitigation, planning for post-disaster recovery, and climate change adaptation. Translational activities include advising international, federal, state and local governments on a number of issues including the linkage between sustainable development and risk reduction, pre- and post-disaster policymaking, and improving the nexus between disaster management initiatives and emerging climate change adaptation measures.

    + Ph.D. Texas A&M University
    + MS Texas A&M University
    + BS Texas A&M University Expertise

    Dr. Smith is the Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Natural Hazards and Disasters (UNC Hazards Center) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Center of Excellence – Coastal Hazards Center.  The UNC Hazards Center research focus areas include modeling, land use planning, technology applications, the social implications of hazards and disasters, environmental hazards management, law and policy, public health, business and economics.  The Coastal Hazards Center research focus areas include: hazard modeling, engineering, human behavior, and land use planning.  Dr. Smith is currently engaged in planning-related research within the center, focused on a national evaluation of local and state hazard mitigation plans as well as the study of disaster recovery plans and policies.  

    Dr. Smith is an Associate Research Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Last year Dr. Smith completed the text, Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: A Review of the United States Disaster Assistance Framework (Island Press 2012).  Dr. Smith is currently serving as the co-editor of the text, Climate Change Adaptation: Lessons from Hazards Management Planning (Springer 2013).

    Additional activities include advising nations, states, communities and federal agencies on hazard mitigation and disaster recovery-related topics.  Recent examples include working with the U.S. State Department to discuss the connectivity between climate change adaptation and disaster management in Hong Kong and the Philippines, assisting the State of Vermont following Hurricane Irene, and advising FEMA as they develop rules to implement the new National Disaster Recovery Framework.

    Following Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Smith worked in the Mississippi Office of the Governor, serving as the Director of the Office of Recovery and Renewal.  In this role, he and his staff focused on four primary tasks: the identification of federal, corporate, non-profit and foundation financial assistance; the provision of education, outreach and training to local governments and state agencies; providing counsel to the Governor, his staff and state agency officials regarding disaster recovery policy issues, and the implementation of the Governor’s Commission Report:  After Katrina:  Building Back Better than Ever.  In this role he testified before Congress twice, providing recommended policy changes to improve the delivery of post-disaster recovery and reconstruction activities.  He also developed the concept and wrote policy guidance associated with the 400 million dollar Alternative Housing Pilot Program, an initiative intended to test the construction and deployment of improved emergency housing alternatives following Hurricane Katrina.  

    Dr. Smith served as the Assistant Director for Hazard Mitigation in the State of North Carolina.  During his tenure with the Division, the Mitigation Section administered mitigation and disaster recovery grant funds in excess of 800 million dollars associated with 10 Presidential disaster declarations leading the acquisition and relocation or elevation of over 5,000 and 500 homes respectively.   Following Hurricane Floyd, Dr. Smith served as an advisor to Governor Hunt on policies and programs associated with long-term recovery in North Carolina, including the development of 22 state programs that addressed local needs not met by federal assistance.

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