NJIT professor receives NSF CAREER award for emergency response research

David Mendonca, Ph.D., an assistant professor of information systems at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) who has worked to improve the way society responds to disasters, has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award - the foundation's most prestigious award for new faculty members.

The award recognizes and supports the early career development activities of those teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century. The award is a five-year grant of $400,000.

"Disasters routinely create non-routine situations," Mendonca said. "History repeatedly teaches us that flexibility and an ability to improvise are key to emergency preparedness and response. We must therefore plan, but also plan to improvise."

At the core of Mendonca's work, under this grant, will be improving the public's understanding of how to improvise successfully in emergencies. The work builds upon his prior research on the response to the 2001 World Trade Center attack and on managing the nation's critical infrastructures. NSF supported both projects. In addition to researching responses to previous disasters, Mendonca will work with state and local emergency response personnel to uncover how they think in deciding when and how to depart from emergency plans.

Concurrently, Mendonca will develop information technology-based solutions to support training in improvisation. These technologies and other training tools will be designed to help response personnel learn to overcome barriers to successful decision-making when they are faced with non-routine situations.

Mendonca's work will include education and outreach. A course in improvisation for New Jersey emergency response personnel will be offered through NJIT's Homeland Security Virtual Academy for New Jersey. He will also make presentations to high school students in the Newark area to introduce them to the field of emergency response. "Newark is

Contact: Sheryl Weinstein
New Jersey Institute of Technology

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