Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography & ODU Resilience Collaborative

Fall 2017 Seminar Series


Michael Blum
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee

Monday, November 6, 2017
3:30 PM
Conference Center, Innovation Resarch Building II
4211 Monarch Way, Norfolk, VA 23508


Catastrophic disasters can have enduring consequences on environments and societies. Remarkably little is known, however, about the long-term outcomes of disaster response, including whether efforts intended to reduce public health threats instead defer or inflate risks by influencing socioecological reassembly. In this seminar, I will discuss how work on rodent-borne infectious disease in New Orleans is advancing understanding of post-disaster health disparities. I will first present how Hurricane Katrina-related flooding has reshaped the sociocultural and landscape diversity of the city. I will then describe how public policies intended to spur return and rebuilding have instead reinforced legacy asymmetries in the distribution and composition of vegetation across the city. I will also illustrate how the prevalence and management of abandoned property align with legacy assymetries and how 'greening' following abandonment favors commensal rodents and increases rodent-borne pathogen exposure risk. Finally, I will discuss how understanding of socioecological relationships is helping decision-makers develop plans for environmental restoration that better ensure the well-being of vulnerable populations in New Orleans.


Michael Blum is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee. Prior to joining the UTK faculty, Mike was the Eugenie Schwartz Professorship of River & Coastal Studies and Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Tulane University. Mike's expertise is in the socioecology of disasters and infectious disease, as well as the ecology of river and coastal ecosystems. While serving as the Arnold Early Career Professor in Earth and Ecological Science at Tulane, Mike worked closely with academic, government and industry partners to advance coastal remediation and recovery following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Mike also has been leading National Science Foundation-funded projects to develop New Orleans as an urban long-term research area to study outcomes of catastrophic disasters, as well as socioeconomic and human health drivers of biological diversity. As the Director of the Tulane-Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research and then the founding Director of the Tulane ByWater Institute, Mike led a portfolio of cross-cutting initiatives on energy, environment and resilience. His work has been featured by media outlets including The New York Times, National Geographic, The Atlantic, CNN, Fox News, NPR, BBC, and Comedy Central.

Reception before seminar at 3:00 PM

Old Dominion University Homepage CCPO
Innovation Research Park Building I
4111 Monarch Way, 3rd Floor
Old Dominion University
Norfolk, VA 23508
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