April 17, 2014  

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Butler Receives $1.3M Grant to Study Health Changes Following Disasters

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Dr. David Butler

Dr. David Butler, associate professor in the International Development Doctoral Program at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, will begin a study on health changes following disasters using a $1.3 million grant.

The $1.3 million grant, awarded to Southern Miss Gulf Coast, is part of a larger $13.5 million grant awarded to three institutions conducting research over five years beginning July 1 of this year. Titled “Gulf States Collaborative Center for Health Policy Research,” the Southern Miss project will explore how disasters, which include the Mississippi River flooding in 2011, the Tuscaloosa, Ala., tornado in 2011, and the BP oil disaster in 2010, impact family health for both lower and upper socio-economic groups.

Awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the grant is shared with the Bayou Clinic in Bayou La Batre, Ala., and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, each of which has unique research projects of their own within the study.

“I look forward to examining how families have recovered from these recent disasters in Mississippi and Alabama,” said Butler, who is principal investigator for the grant. “We are interested in finding if these disasters influenced the health of the residents, and if so, how and what policies the federal government can adopt to help minimize negative health consequences following disasters.”

Researchers will utilize the assistance of residents in order to gather the data needed to complete the research study. While research methods will vary over the five-year study, they will include surveys, focus groups and interviews for social network analysis. In the end, the researchers hope their study influences federal policy regarding health-related outcomes, which in turn ensures assistance is targeted more precisely for different segments of society in the wake of a disaster.

Additional researchers involved in the Southern Miss grant include Dr. Edward Sayre, associate professor of economics in the Department of Political Science, International Development and International Affairs at Southern Miss; and Dr. Roma Hanks at the University of South Alabama.

“Dr. Butler and Dr. Sayre bring a wealth of experience and research expertise to this project, especially as it focuses on community resilience after natural disasters,” said Southern Miss College of Arts and Letters Dean Steven Moser. “Our college is proud to have these faculty members associated with such a worthwhile and productive research study.”

For more information about the International Development Doctoral Program at Southern Miss Gulf Coast, visit www.usm.edu/gulfcoast/international-development-doctoral-program.