When a visiting international expert on network theory for communication and transportation systems visited Morgantown Thursday, she teamed up with West Virginia University’s representatives to a national research consortium to share insights on how communities can prepare for potential large-scale disasters and then restore and recover basic functions after they occur.

WVU is a member of the Resilient Communities Research Consortium along with Florida A&M University, the University of Pittsburgh, the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey Citizens Corps Council, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory and Resolution, Inc.

Aura Reggiani of the University of Bologna is an internationally-recognized expert on the application of network theory to model and predict improvements to transportation and communication systems. Network theory, which also can be applied to power grids, community resilience, social systems and hundreds of other complexities that touch everyday life, is the study of “connectedness” or how many individual pieces work together to produce a particular kind of action that could not be predicted by looking at its individual pieces.

Reggiani was in Morgantown to present a lecture sponsored by the WVU Regional Research Institute.

Rusty Russell, the RCRC development coordinator at WVU said Reggiani’s network theory work has broad implication for predicting and planning for improvements that make communities more resilient in the face of major disaster events.

“For example, modeling human behavior during a disaster mass evacuation depends upon not only how the emergency management community is conducting response and recovery operations, but also how those operations compose a system and how the human population acts in relation to that system,” Russell explained.

RCRC is working to develop relationships with researchers from other countries whose work complements and helps extend the research program of the RCRC partners and provides a cross-cultural approach to helping communities become more resilient to disaster events. The University’s 2020 Strategic Plan for the Future encourages both community engagement and international partnerships. Reggiani’s interaction with WVU resiliency researchers supported those goals.

Peter Schaeffer, WVU professor of economic policy and a faculty research associate at the WVU Regional Research Institute, said Reggiani’s work in network theory is related to the resilient communities research in a range of areas that can help communities prepare and survive the worst including:

  • Community Visualization, and Design Research
  • Modeling, Simulation, and Visualization
  • Hazards Mitigation, Infrastructure Resiliency and Loss Mitigation
  • Population Behavior /Disaster Response
  • Environmental Sciences & Services
  • Technology Transfer to Communities

“Anything we can do to reduce probability of systems failure, reduce consequences of failure, and reduce time to restoration of services theoretically improves resilience,” Schaefer said. “Dr. Reggiani’s input is very helpful to the consortium’s work.

Founded in 1965, the Regional Research Institute creates learning opportunities and provides research support for faculty members and students, while serving as an internationally prominent center for the advancement of regional science. The Institute provides seed grants to WVU faculty who have interests in regional research and analysis studies of economy, land use, environment, energy, industry and socio-economic welfare, and human environmental interactions.

For more information about the Regional Research Institute, contact the Director, Randall Jackson at randall.jackson@mail.wvu.edu. For more information about RCRC, contact Dr. Russell at rusty.russell@mail.wvu.edu. For more about Dr. Reggiani’s work, go to: http://www.rri.wvu.edu/seminars.htm.


CONTACT: Gerrill Griffith, WVU Research Corp.
304-293-3743; Gerrill.Griffith@mail.wvu.edu

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