Abstract: Natural disasters are becoming increasingly expensive as climate change and development are exposing communities to greater risks. Disaster preparation and recovery are critical for climate change resilience, and social media is being used more and more to communicate before, during, and after disasters. While there is a growing body of research aimed at understanding how people use social media surrounding disaster events, most existing work has focused on a single disaster case study. In the present study, we analyze five of the costliest disasters in the last decade in the United States (Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, two sets of tornado outbreaks, and flooding in Louisiana) through the lens of Twitter. In particular, we explore the frequency of both generic and specific food-security related terms, and quantify the relationship between network size and Twitter activity during disasters. We find differences in tweet volume for keywords depending on disaster type, with people using Twitter more frequently in preparation for Hurricanes, and for real-time or recovery information for tornado and flooding events. Further, we find that people share a host of general disaster and specific preparation and recovery terms during these events. Finally, we find that among all account types, individuals with average sized networks are most likely to share information during these disasters, and in most cases, do so more frequently than normal. This suggests that around disasters, an ideal form of social contagion is being engaged in which average people rather than outsized influentials are key to communication. These results provide important context for the type of disaster information and target audiences that may be most useful for disaster communication during varying extreme events.
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Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).