Finding Common Ground: Building Networks Between Women Scientists in the U.S. and South America on Issues of Natural Environmental Hazards

NSF RCN-SEES (National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network – Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability) Project

Project Description: Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin America is optimally situated for environmental hazards, with severe weather problems in low latitudes and high probability for earthquakes and volcanic eruptions along the Pacific margin. Recent catastrophic events in this region have demonstrated the power and devastating impact of such environmental hazards. Women in developing countries in this region are particularly vulnerable to the effects of environmental degradation as it is well established that environmental hazards are among the major causes of global death and disease, and that the burden falls disproportionately on women and young children. Yet women scientists that could play an important role in research related to environmental hazards and also in assisting in outreach to communities are few and far between.

The goals of this project and subsequent activities are to develop a grass-roots, research- based network of women scientists in the U.S., Latin American and the Caribbean to lead and sustain efforts in their regions to understand, anticipate and mitigate the effects of environmental natural hazards including those amplified by climate change. The specific goals of the project include: (1) forming and fostering a network of women geoscientists in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the US who have common research interests in natural environmental disasters (2) using this network and the expertise of its participants to develop innovative and cross- disciplinary strategies to overcome research challenges in this area, and (3) maintaining and growing this network and to extend its outreach into communities by employing established methods that promote network development. The workshops are funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation through the RCN-SEES Program.

Workshop #1: Natural Hazards Associated with Tectonic Issues,  Santiago, Chile, Nov. 2012

This first of three international workshops was held in Santiago, Chile and focused on tectonic related environmental hazards (earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes etc.). The 3-day workshop involved ~20 women scientists from the U.S. and countries from across Latin America and the Caribbean with expertise in volcanology, seismology, risk assessment, tsunamis and related natural disasters. The meeting agenda provided the participants the opportunity to share their research and professional interests associated with tectonic hazards, to develop collaborative research and educational projects which COACh is helping to facilitate and sustain, to form the nucleus of a network of women scientists in this area that seek to use their scientific expertise to save lives and to help develop policies that will lead to improved preparation and mitigation of these disasters in participants’ countries, and to develop strategies for growing the network of women with research and educational interests in these topics. It also provided participants the opportunity to compare how their countries and cultures handle such disasters, how women geoscientists fare in career advancement in this largely male dominated field and what is needed in various countries to advance women into leadership roles in the geosciences in those countries.

Workshop #2: Natural Hazards Associated with Water and Hydrology Issues
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 4-7, 2013

COACh conducted its second Network Building Workshop on Natural Disasters with women geoscientists in Buenos Aires this week. It brought together a group of women geoscientists from the U.S. and from many countries in Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean to discuss common research and education interests in the area of natural disasters associated with water including drought, mudslides, heavy rainfall and tropical storms, surface and ground water resources, the effect of climate change and the coupling of volcanic events with hydrological disasters. The pictures show the fantastic group of women that participated in this event. Many projects were launched at this workshop and many plans developed for the future. To those who attended the first COACh workshop on tectonic disasters n Santiago in November 2012 (see earlier album), meet the new class of geoscientists to be added to our network. And to those who did not attend but are interested in joining our network, join us on this Facebook page, introduce yourself and share your interests. We'd love to make you part of the network. The workshop was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Meeting Agenda
Workshop Presentations

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