Dr. Picou is currently directing major research projects which focus on two of the most destructive disasters in the history of the United States.  The first project entitled, “Long-Term Community Recovery from Hurricane Katrina,” is a five year project that was initiated in 2008.  Interviews were collected from 2,548 survivors of Hurricane Katrina in the seven parishes/counties that suffered the highest rates of mortality and the most residential damage from the “storm of the century.”  Data were collected in Harrison and Hancock counties in Mississippi and in St. Tammany, Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes in Louisiana.  Follow-up surveys are planned in 2010 and 2013 to determine the nature and scope of community, neighborhood, family and personal recovery.  This project was funded by grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is administered through the Social Science Research Council.  Several articles and book chapters have been published from the on-going research and analysis associated with this project.

Hurricane Katrina Flooding in New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina Storm Surge in Mississippi

The second project is entitled “Social Impacts of High-Stakes Litigation Resolution in a Renewable Resource Community.”  This research focuses on the largest and most destructive ecological disaster in the history of the United States – The Exxon Valdez oil spill.  The project focuses on the long-term social consequences of the spill and, most important, the community impacts of twenty years of adversarial litigation which resulted from the massive contamination of Prince William Sound in South Central Alaska.  This project will include several community surveys and the organization and analysis of previous community surveys conducted since 1989.  This research is a collaborative project and is funded by the National Science Foundation, Polar Social Science Division.  The project began 2009 and will continue through 2012. Collaborating Universities include Oklahoma State University (Dr. Duane Gill) and the University of Colorado at Boulder (Dr. Liesel A. Ritchie).  Several book chapters and journal articles have been published from this project.  The funding for both of these projects is approximately $750,000.  Each project has applied and public dimensions which are designed to inform and facilitate the mitigation of negative human consequences which have plagued the survivors of these two major catastrophes.

Exxon Valdez Leaking Oil, March 1989

Dr. Picou is also involved in several other research projects and research proposals that are currently under review for funding.  He is a research associate on the Oyster Reef Restoration project for Mobile Bay funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Nature Conservancy.  He is also a co-principle investigator on a number of proposed projects which address areas such as environmental education, environmental ethics, translational mental health applications and human interaction with engineered robotic systems.  For more information on these on-going proposed research activities, contact Dr. Picou at:




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