I am interested in formal and informal collective action, or how and when people cooperate and don't cooperate in both goal-oriented activities and in more general activities of daily life. I have found extreme events to be a productive arena for understanding limits to cooperation, since these events often push humans to the edge. So I study warfare, hazards/disasters, climate change and migration as extreme events and also study cooperation in regular settings, such as clubs, hospitals and cooperatives. I have been developing Social Network Analysis software and applied approaches for several years. Otherwise, I use many different types of research methodologies and teaching techniques, and I enjoy mentoring students to do their own research and help build their skills in conceptualizing, carrying out and presenting results of projects.
While I do a lot of methodological and consulting work for colleagues and other institutions, my main research project is the International Disasters Project with colleagues Arthur Murphy at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Graham Tobin and Linda Whiteford at the University of South Florida. We have conducted research on the role of personal networks in disaster recovery in the United States, Ecuador and Mexico at 10 different sites affected by hurricanes, volcanoes, flooding and landslides. Also, I've also been able to work over the last 10 years with Murphy on a couple of major cross-cultural community psychology projects covering mental health following disasters. Finally, another major project I'm involved in addresses political, environmental and climatological factors in warfare in East Africa and worldwide, working with the Human Relations Area Files.