DRC-Disaster Research Center

Dr. Joanne Nigg

Core Faculty
166B Graham Hall
Newark, DE 19716-2581
Phone: (302) 831-1984
Fax: (302) 831-2091
Email: nigg@udel.edu
Click here for Joanne's Curriculum Vitae


Dr. Joanne M. Nigg is a Professor of Sociology and a former Director of the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware. Since 1975, she has been involved in research on the societal response to natural, technological, and environmental hazards and disasters. Currently, she is a core faculty member of the Disaster Research Center.

Dr. Nigg headed a multidisciplinary team that conducted a Congressionally-required public risk assessment for the proposed high level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. She was also a member of the Research Committee (which set the cross-disciplinary research agendas ) for the NSF-funded Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research.

Dr. Nigg has been involved in several federal reviews of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) and has twice given testimony before Congress on the re-authorization of that program. She has served on a variety of federal commissions and task forces on disaster policies, and has been a member of the National Research Council's Board on Natural Disasters as well as the NRC's Committee on Earthquake Engineering. Dr. Nigg was the first woman and social scientist to serve as President of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI). She currently serves on the Division Review Committee for the Environment and Energy Division of Los Alamos National Laboratory and is in the process of obtaining a Q clearance for her work with LANL.

Dr. Nigg is the author, co-author or editor of seven books and over 100 articles, book chapters, reports or papers on individual, organizational, and governmental response to, preparation for, mitigation of, and recovery from natural and technological threats and disasters.

Current Studies

Dr. Nigg has been a Principal or Co-Principal Investigator on over 20 research projects, totaling over $3.2 million, covering subjects such as:

  1. Hazard/threat/risk awareness and behavioral response by individuals and organizations
  2. Attributions of responsibility for disaster outcomes; factors related to the development of governmental hazard reduction policies and actions
  3. Evaluations of hazard and risk reduction programs; risk perceptions and policy preferences among the public and key decision makers
  4. Disaster recovery of households, businesses and communities.

Selected Publications

“Predicting Earthquakes: Science, Pseudoscience, and the Public Policy Paradox.” Pp. 135-156 in Daniel Sarawitz, Roger A. Pielke, Jr., and Radford Byerly, Jr. (eds.), Prediction: Science, Decision Making, and the Future of Nature. Washington, DC: Island Press. 2000.

"Risk Communication and Warning Systems." Pages 369-382 in Tom Horlick-Jones, Aniello Amendola and Riccardo Casale (eds.) Natural Risk and Civil Protection. London, England: E & FN Spon. 1995.

"Nevada Urban Residents' Attitudes Toward a Nuclear Waste Repository" co-authored with Alvin H. Mushkatel and K. David Pijawka. Pages 239-262 in Riley E. Dunlap, Michael E. Kraft, and Eugene A. Rosa (eds.), Public Reactions to Nuclear Waste. Duke University Press. 1993.

Prediction and Perception of Natural Hazards, co-edited with J. Nemec and F. Sicardi. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 1993.

Waiting for Disaster co-authored with Ralph H. Turner and Denise H. Paz. Los Angeles: University of California Press. 1986.