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FIU experts available to discuss earthquakes in Puerto Rico

FIU experts available to discuss earthquakes in Puerto Rico

January 7, 2020 at 10:45am

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks have struck Puerto Rico this morning, following Monday’s 5.8 magnitude earthquake.

FIU experts are available to discuss various issues surrounding the impact of these earthquakes.

Members of the FIU Media Relations team are available to assist in contacting the experts.

  • Maydel Santana, assistant vice president: 305-348-1555, 
  • Madeline Baró, director of media relations: 305-348-2234, 
  • Dianne Fernandez, broadcast media specialist: 305-608-4870, 
  • Amy Ellis, communications manager, Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs, 305-348-5360, 
  • Ayleen Barbel, account manager, College of Arts, Science & Education, 305-348-4492, 
  • Chrystian Tejedor, account manager, College of Arts, Science & Education, 305-348-2860, 
  • Nathalie Medina, junior account manager, College of Arts, Science & Education, 305-348-7678, 
  • Ileana Varela, associate director of marketing and PR, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, 305-348-4926, 

Grenville Draper
Earth Sciences Professor
Grenville Draper has studied the geology tectonics of several regions in the world for more than 30 years. He was intimately involved in the study and mapping of the fault that caused the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Draper is Chair of the Standing Committee of the Caribbean Geological Conference series and is on the editorial boards of International Geology Review and Geologica Acta. Draper is available for Spanish-language interviews. 

Shimon Wdowinski
Associate Professor, Department of Earth and Environment
Shimon Wdowinski is an expert in space geodesy, natural hazards and sea level rise. His research has focused on the development and usage of space geodetic techniques that can detect very precisely small movements of the Earth's surface. Wdowinski has successfully applied these techniques to study tectonic plate motion, earthquakes, land subsidence, sinkhole activities, wetland hydrology, climate change, and sea level rise. He is currently spearheading research supported by NASA examining whether powerful hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones can trigger earthquakes.

Richard Olson
Professor and Director, Extreme Events Institute
Olson, director of FIU’s Extreme Events Institute, specializes in the lessons learned and the political fallout from disasters. Olson, a former contractor for the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has worked in response and evaluation in earthquakes, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific..

Jorge Duany
Director, Cuban Research Institute
Before coming to FIU, Duany served as acting dean of the College of Social Sciences and professor of anthropology at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras and is an expert on all things Puerto Rico. He previously served as director of UPR’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology and director of the journal Revista de Ciencias Sociales. He earned his Ph.D. in Latin American Studies, specializing in anthropology, at the University of California, Berkeley. Duany has published extensively on migration, ethnicity, race, nationalism, and transnationalism in the Caribbean and the United States. Duany is available for Spanish-language interviews.

Nelson Varas-Diaz
Professor, Department of Global & Sociocultural Studies
Varas-Diaz is an expert on the role of social and structural factors in the stigmatization of individuals and communities. Varas-Diaz’ research has focused on the social stigmatization of disease, marginalized groups and cultural practices. He has produced several award-winning documentaries including “Collapse” – a film that examines how Hurricane Maria’s impact on Puerto Rico became the subject of a highly politicized debate, calling into question the science behind how hurricane damage is assessed. Varas-Diaz is available for Spanish-language interviews.

Carissa Caban-Aleman
Director, Behavioral Health Services at FIU Student Health Center
Dr. Caban-Aleman is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and since 2017 has been the medical director for behavioral health at FIU Student Health Services. Caban-Aleman can speak to the psychological impact of the earthquakes, especially in the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017. A native of Puerto Rico, her main interests are cultural humility, systems-based practice, climate change and mental health, advocacy for social justice in medicine, and the relationship between poverty, social inequality and mental health. Caban-Aleman is available for Spanish-language interviews.

Mark Macgowan 
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work

Mark Macgowan is a licensed therapist and qualified supervisor with substantial clinical experience, particularly in the areas of substance use and disaster mental health. He currently serves on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Disaster Medical Assistance Team as a behavioral health specialist, which deploys response teams around the country after a federally declared natural disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake. 

Atorod Azizinamini 
Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Atorod Azizinamini is a specialist in bridge engineering and is an expert in the field of accelerated bridge construction. In 1995, he was selected to be a member of a U.S. delegation to work cooperatively with Japanese researchers to develop technologies for the next generation of high-rise buildings in seismic regions. Azizinamini can speak to the rebuilding of infrastructure in the aftermath of an earthquake.

Amy B. Aiken
Assistant Vice President, FIU Operations and Safety
Amy B. Aiken is an adjunct professor for the Academy for International Disaster Preparedness and has over 20 years of emergency management experience at the county, municipal and academic level.  Before coming to FIU, Amy spent 18 years in local government working in emergency management positions.