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The Role of Social Systems in Preparing, Responding and Recovering from Catastrophic Events

The Role of Social Systems in Preparing, Responding and Recovering from Catastrophic Events

On January 18, 2022, at 10am PT, Meeting of the Minds will convene a free webinar featuring Jose Holguin-Veras, William H. Hart Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


After massive disasters and catastrophes, communities’ infrastructure and communication systems can be severely affected to the point that they cease to function. Yet aid floods in when infrastructure is down. In these events, it is vital to have disaster response plans in place, and readily available trained personnel who can reach and support the affected areas with critical supplies in time to prevent the loss of lives and property. The ability to recover is not just tied to logistics. It’s also innately tied to the strength of social networks. In 2017, Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria, a category five hurricane. Non-established relief groups (NERGs) formed immediately after the disaster to reduce the distress of the severely affected population. Haiti’s earthquakes provide many lessons learned as well. Jose Holguin-Veras has studied how to improve post-disaster response around the world and will share his ongoing research into the role of social networks to more quickly recover, optimize logistics, save lives, and rebuild.


Jose Holguin-Veras

Jose Holguin-Veras

William H. Hart Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Dr. José Holguín-Veras, is the William H. Hart Professor and Director of the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations Center of Excellence for Sustainable Urban Freight Systems, and the Center for Infrastructure, Transportation, and the Environment at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2013 White House’s Transportation Champion of Change Award, the 1996 Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award, a finalist of INFORMS’ 2017 Edelman Award, and the 2001 National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award. According to Google Scholar, he is the most widely published and cited freight researcher in the world. His research interests are in the areas of freight transportation modeling and economics, and humanitarian logistics.

As a member of the Board of the New York State Thruway Authority—the only researcher in the board’s history—he oversaw toll policy and the replacement of the $5 billion Tappan Zee Bridge, one of the largest construction projects in the US. His contributions also cover disaster response; as a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Disaster Research Roundtable, he advised the federal government in disaster response. He was one of the few researchers appointed as members of USDOT’s National Freight Advisory Committee, and the TRB Review Committee for the Truck Size and Weight study requested by Congress.

His leadership positions have included: President of the Pan-American Society of Transportation Research; member of the Scientific Committee of the World Conference of Transport Research, Elected Member of the Council for the Association for European Transport, member of technical committees at numerous professional organizations, and member of the editorial boards of the leading journals. He received his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin in 1996; a M.Sc. from the Universidad Central de Venezuela in 1984; and a B.Sc. from the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo en 1982.


January 18, 2022
10:00 am - 11:00 am
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