Erika Felix of UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School, in collaboration with Dr. Walid Afifi in Communications, has been awarded a UCSB Survey Research Center grant to fund a study of the effects of the Gap, Tea, and Jesusita Fires on Santa Barbara residents. The Survey Center plans to fast-track the proposal, targeting a fall quarter 2009 mounting of the survey so as to take advantage of the immediacy of the events. In Santa Barbara County, the Jesusita (May 2009), Tea (November 2008), Gap (July 2008), and Zaca (July 2007) Fires have occurred in relatively quick succession, creating a unique, and potentially compounding stressor on the residents of the affected communities. These events have made multiple community stakeholders aware of both strengths and weaknesses in the county’s ability to respond to disasters, and hungry for evidence-based conclusions that improve preparedness.
This research project is shaped by two parallel motives: (a) to improve scientific knowledge about the impact of exposure to multiple natural disasters on well-being and (b) to advance community preparedness to combat negative consequences of such exposure. Both goals occupy central positions in shaping the project’s design and defining strategies for communicating its results. Accomplishing the former requires commitment to the dissemination of knowledge through scientific outlets, and the latter involves the pursuit of public communication efforts through multiple outlets to reach a broad base of community constituents.
Erika Felix is assistant research faculty at the Center for School-Based Youth Development at UC Santa Barbara and a licensed clinical psychologist. She serves as program evaluator for Santa Barbara County First Five Commission and is co-principal investigator on the longitudinal research project on school readiness that represents a partnership between Santa Barbara First Five, UCSB, and the Santa-Maria Bonita School District. Other research interests include childhood trauma, peer victimization, positive youth development, and disaster mental health.
[Erika Felix is available for interviews; contact George Yatchisin at 805 893 5789]
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