DRC-Disaster Research Center

Dr. William A Anderson


Contact Info

Title: Consultant
Office Phone:  301-384-4518
Fax: 301-384-4518
E-mail: waanderson301@aol.com
Last Updated: 6/26/09


Brief BIO

After leaving DRC, which at the time was at Ohio State University where he received his Ph.D., Anderson became a faculty member at Arizona State University, continued conducting research on disasters, and was promoted to full professor in the department of sociology prior to his next career move.  In 1976, he accepted a position at NSF where he served for over twenty years in positions of increasing responsibility, including program director, head of the hazard mitigation section, acting division director, and senior advisor for hazard research activities in the Engineering Directorate.  Early in his career at NSF Anderson also held a one-year concurrent assignment with the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President.  Starting in 1999, he served on the staff of the World Bank’s Disaster Management Facility for two years as senior advisor in support of its efforts to establish partnerships with the scientific and technical community and further natural disaster reduction in developing countries.  From 2001 until his retirement from full-time duties in 2008, Anderson served as associate executive director in the Division on Earth and Life Studies at the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences and director of the Disasters Roundtable.    


About This Alum’s Time at DRC

Years of Tenure(s): 1963-1969 
Title and/or Position(s): Research Assistant, Research Associate, Field Director
Projects worked on while at DRC:  Participated in several field studies including on the Alaska earthquake; California wildfires; Baldwin Hills Dam failure; the Columbus Police Department laboratory simulation; the El Salvador earthquake; Tasmania, Australia bushfire; Fairbanks flood; and studies on civil disturbances in the U.S. and in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles


Since Leaving DRC

Agencies/institutions you have worked for: Arizona State University; American Sociological Association; National Science Foundation (NSF); World Bank; National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences

Major Accomplishments: founding director of NSF’s societal response/earthquake systems integration program which promoted social science and multidisciplinary research on hazards; led the NSF team that facilitated the establishment of three university-based multidisciplinary earthquake engineering research centers and did the initial NSF planning for the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation; was a key member of the  World Bank team that established the ProVention Consortium, a global partnership to further disaster risk reduction in developing countries throughout the world; served as study director for the National Research Council’s study that produced the 2006 report Facing Hazards and Disasters: Understanding Human Dimensions which assessed advances in social science research on hazards and disasters over a thirty year period; authored or co-authored numerous publications, including articles, books and monographs. 

Awards:  National Science Foundation Director’s Meritorious Service Award (1996);
National Academy of Sciences Distinguished Service Group Awards (2003 and 2007);           
Earthquake Engineering Research Institute Special Recognition Award (2007); elected to the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute’s Board of Directors in 2008.