As Florida looks back on Andrew, Texas prepares for Harvey

Aerial view of hundreds of homes destroyed by Hurricane Andrew August 24, 1992 in Dade County, FL.

Social and Political Impact

Richard S. Olson,
Professor, Politics and International Relations
Director, Extreme Events Institute
International Hurricane Research Center
Richard Olson researches the political fallout from disasters and has been involved in more than 20 field responses and post-disaster investigations. He has served on the Climate Change and Social Stress panel of the National Academy of Science and has written extensively about urban vulnerability to disasters, disaster risk reduction, accountability and the political ramifications of how governments respond – or fail to respond. Olson speaks English and Spanish.

Hugh Gladwin
Associate Professor, Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies
Gladwin has closely followed how people prepare for and are affected by hurricanes. He has collaborated with FIU and other researchers on more than 15 National Science Foundation (NSF), State of Florida, and FEMA funded projects studying hurricane preparation/evacuation behavior and disaster resilience. He also works on the human impact of the hurricane/climate change linkage. Gladwin’s most recent NSF-funded research focuses on communication of hurricane forecast meteorology and expected storm effects. He was a member of a NOAA working group on social science research needs for the hurricane forecast and warning system, work that has resulted in new research initiatives from NSF. His hurricane-related publications cover forecast communication, evacuation decision-making, and the effects of hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, and Sandy.

Maria Ilcheva
Senior Research Associate, FIU Metropolitan Center
Maria Ilcheva is investigating how prepared Floridians are to face hurricanes and how they use information toward their preparations. Ilcheva is examining the measures residents, businesses and public officials are taking to mitigate the effect of hurricanes and what barriers exist to implement optimal preparedness. Ilcheva’s hurricane research focuses on the real and perceptual changes in homeowners insurance. Ilcheva specializes in the administration of surveys, polls and interviews, data analysis and reporting.

Eduardo Gamarra
Political Science Professor
Professor Eduardo Gamarra has done research on the regional dynamics of Latin America and the Caribbean, including Haiti and the Dominican Republic. He is well versed on political, social and infrastructure issues in Haiti. He is the author of more than half a dozen books and more than forty academic articles on Latin America. Professor Gamarra speaks Spanish.

Storm Damage Mitigation

Arindam Gan Chowdhury
Director, Laboratory for Wind Engineering Research and Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Arindam Chowdhury is a wind engineer working on technology to test the effect of hurricane-force winds and rain on buildings and construction materials at FIU’s Wall of Wind, a facility where full-scale houses can be tested in conditions that most closely resemble those of a hurricane.

Erik Salna
Associate Director, Extreme Events Institute (EEI) & International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC)
Erik Salna works with the Wall of Wind research team and coordinates education and outreach activities. He has experience as a broadcast meteorologist and within both non-profit and for-profit environments in meteorology, mitigation, preparedness, education, media and EOC activations.  Before EEI & IHRC, he worked at America’s Emergency Network, which focused on live video streaming technology. He also served as project coordinator for the non-profit Hurricane Warning at the Disaster Survival House, located in Deerfield Beach.  He also recently served as hazard mitigation manager for the City of Deerfield Beach, was on the city’s crisis activation team and participated in all activations of the emergency operations center.

Ioannis Zisis
Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Ioannis Zisis has been studying wind effects on the built environment for more than 10 years. His research focus is structural and environmental wind engineering. He has been using advanced experimental methods, including wind tunnel and full-scale monitoring techniques, to examine how residential and other structures react to extreme wind events. The outcomes of his research efforts are aiming at the development and improvement of national and international wind standards and building codes of practice. He can discuss wind-induced loads and damage on buildings, and the use of experimental wind engineering to study extreme wind effects.

Andres Tremante
Senior Instructor, Mechanical & Materials Engineering Department
Andres Tremante is a mechanical engineer with expertise in energy, search & rescue and natural disasters, specifically hurricane & earthquake mitigation. As a professor in Europe and Latin America, he has done considerable research on harnessing the power of wind energy (hurricane winds) to generate power and mitigate wind effects on buildings and other structures. He has an FIU patent regarding this topic, which was published Smithsonian Magazine and picked up by Time Magazine.

Environmental and Ecological Storm Impacts

Michael Ross
Associate Professor, FIU Southeast Environmental Research Center
Michael Ross has worked extensively on the ecological effects of Hurricane Andrew in mangrove forests and coastal hammocks. He is working with the FIU International Hurricane Research Center to explore the use of airborne light detection and ranging technology in gaining a larger-scale perspective of hurricane effects on the natural environment.

Hugh E. Willoughby
Distinguished Research Professor, Department of Earth & Environment
Hugh Willoughby researches tropical cyclone formation and intensification. He has flown more than 400 missions into the eye of storms as a meteorologist for the federal government. Willoughby was a Research Meteorologist at the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, where he worked since 1975 and served as director from 1995 until 2002. Willoughby also served on the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology and has extensive knowledge about hurricane impacts and insurance. He can speak to the meteorology, climatology and human and economic impacts of Hurricane Andrew, as well as first-hand experiences. For a video on Willoughby, please click here.

Pallab Mozumder
Associate Professor, Department of Earth & Environment and Department of Economics
Pallab Mozumder coordinates the Social Science Research Lab at the International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC). He is an environmental economist with expertise in socio-economic aspects of natural hazards. His research on hurricane risk mitigation and evacuation behavior has been funded by federal and state agencies such as the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Florida Department of Community Affairs and Florida Sea Grant.

Insurance and Business Impacts

Shahid Hamid
Director of the Laboratory for Insurance, Financial and Economic Research at the International Hurricane Research Center
Shahid Hamid has conducted research on hurricane loss modeling and the insurance and economic consequences of hurricanes. For over a decade he has been the principal investigator and project manager on a project to develop, upgrade, and operate the Florida Public Hurricane Loss Model. The model has been used extensively by the state of Florida and by insurance firms when it comes to evaluating financial risks faced by insurance companies that write windstorm policies, and, in turn, set the premiums paid by their customers. For relevant news, click here.
305-348-2727 (Cell)
305-348-2680 (Office)

William G. Hardin
Director, Tibor & Sheila Hollo School of Real Estate
Director, Jerome Bain Real Estate Institute
William Hardin is an internationally recognized expert on commercial real estate markets, financial markets and securitized real estate. A member of the board of directors of the American Real Estate Society, he has authored or co-authored some 40 papers on varied topics in commercial real estate investment, including REIT governance and financial structure. Hardin is co-editor of Journal of Real Estate Practice and Education and is an elected member of the board of directors of the American Real Estate Society.
305-779-7898 (Office)
954-298-8675 (Cell)

Eli Beracha
Faculty Director, Master of Science in International Real Estate (MSIRE) Program
Eli Beracha conducts empirical research in the areas of real estate and finance. In addition to Beracha’s scholarly work, he also has years of practical experience in the area of real estate investments and has served as a consultant for real estate development projects.

For help reaching FIU’s hurricane experts please contact FIU’s Office of Media Relations at 305-348-2232 or:

  • Jessica Drouet, senior account manager: 305-348-6944,
  • Dianne Fernandez, broadcast media manager: 305-608-4870,
  • JoAnn Adkins, director of marketing & PR, College of Arts, Sciences & Education: 305-348-0398,
  • Ileana Varela, associate director of marketing & PR, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine: 305-348-4926,
  • Amy Ellis, communications manager, Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs: 305-348-5360,
  • Cynthia Corzo, assistant director of media relations & communications, College of Business: 305-348-1664,
  • Millie Acebal, account manager, College of Engineering & Computing: 305-348-7762,