northeastern university seal

Liesel Ritchie

Distinguished Senior Fellow

Dr. Liesel Ritchie is a professor in the Department of Sociology and an affiliate of the Center for Coastal Studies at Virginia Tech. During her career, she has studied a range of disaster events, including the Exxon Valdez and BP Deepwater Horizon oil spills, the Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash release, Hurricane Katrina, and earthquakes in Haiti and New Zealand. Since 2000, her focus has been on the social impacts of disasters and community resilience, with an emphasis on technological hazards and disasters, social capital, and renewable resource communities, and she has published widely on these topics.

Ritchie has more than 30 years of experience in research and evaluation. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, she served as associate director of the Center for the Study of Disasters and Extreme Events at Oklahoma State University (2018–2020) and as associate director of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder (2007–2018). Ritchie was a senior research associate at the Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University, and she served for six years as coordinator of the Social Science Research Center’s Evaluation & Decision Support Laboratory at Mississippi State University.

She has been a principal investigator or co-principal investigator on more than 90 projects and authored or coauthored more than 85 technical reports working with agencies such as NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Ritchie is a disaster resilience fellow with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a distinguished senior fellow with Northeastern University’s Global Resilience Institute, and a visiting scholar at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom. She served as a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Committee for Measuring Community Resilience. She currently serves on two National Academies advisory boards — one for the Gulf Research Program and another for LabX.