The Global Resilience Institute (GRI) at Northeastern University is an initiative involving all nine of its colleges, making Northeastern the first university to establish resilience as a university-wide focus.
GRI is underwritten by a major internal investment that positions it to undertake resilience-related initiatives that will contribute to the safety, security, sustainability, health and well-being of individuals, communities, systems, and societies. Northeastern is uniquely positioned to undertake this effort because of its pursuit of research that focuses on discovering solutions to the global challenges in health, sustainability and security. Additionally, it is home to professors and research centers that have been making widely recognized contributions to resilience scholarship and public policy.
The FY19 submissions period has closed and the seed funding awards will be announced in mid-March.
2017 Funded Teams
Urban geosocial network resilience
Isolation is a main factor of stress that threatens urban resilience. Research on urban isolation has been focusing on the residence places without enough examination of the movements of urban dwellers. Treating urban neighborhoods as nodes and urban dwellers as links, we propose to understand urban mobility from a network perspective. The project aims to quantify, understand, and explore the resilience of geosocial networks by utilizing a unique, publicly available Twitter data across the 50 largest population centers in the United States. The objectives of the project include: 1) integrating large-scale urban informatics to examine urban mobility and the emerged geosocial networks; 2) systematically simulating different types of perturbation to urban geosocial networks; and 3) quantifying the impact of the perturbations on urban neighborhoods. The granularity and scale of this project will enable unprecedented quantitative examination of urban geosocial networks. Also, it will provide a new network analysis approach to examine urban resilience.
Science for longevity: Developing resilience to aging by curing arthritis
A progressive age related deterioration of the body compromises tissues and organs thereby causing irreversible damage and loss of functionality. Diseases of immobility are the most common cause of trauma to the physical and emotional well-being of older adults. Strategies to recuperate from joint injury or gradual musculoskeletal degeneration, can improve mobility, reduce depression, and promote greater independence in our elderly population. We propose to increase resilience in the aging population by developing novel ways of treating osteoarthritis (OA), the most common musculoskeletal disease and the leading cause of immobility. We will approach this challenge with a combination of scientific research and lifestyle management strategies. The project will examine fundamental questions such as why joint cells age, how diet and exercise influence joint aging, and what are the most effective and efficient therapies for delaying and treating osteoarthritis.
Women and resilience in moments of social crisis: A feminist perspective
This project explores networks of women strengthening community resilience as they respond to a diversity of different kinds of social crises. Through an interdisciplinary cross-scalar collaboration, the research team will focus on understanding the how women’s networks respond to disruptions. This pilot project will focus on the following 5 case studies: Mothers Out Front – An advocacy organization founded in 2013 to promote clean energy and advocate for local, state, and federal policies to address climate change. Moms Demand Action - A group founded in 2012, in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, to reduce gun violence and advocate for stricter gun control laws. Mothers Against Drunk Driving – An organization, founded in 1980 by a mother whose teenaged daughter was killed by a drunk driver, that has been extraordinarily successful in its mission to implement federal and state policies to eliminate drunk driving. Mothers of the Movement – A group of women whose African-American children have been killed by police or extrajudicial gun violence. Several members, including the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Sandra Bland have made appearances at key political and cultural events to speak out about violence against Black Americans. Women’s Movement – A grass-roots response to the election of and inauguration of Donald Trump, dedicated to advancing intersectional women’s political issues.
Terrorism and international business: Building financial resilience
To date, there has been scant theoretical or empirical research on how terrorism affects business. Our project will answer four main questions about what we have coined as financial resilience: (1) How do businesses respond in the face of terrorism? (2) What are the determinants of their responses? (3) Which businesses are most resilient to terrorism? (4) And how can other businesses enhance their own resilience to terrorism? Our preliminary research indicates that family firms outperform other business types across numerous metrics due to superior social capital. Additionally, businesses appear to bolster their financial resilience by becoming more geographically dispersed and socially responsible. These incipient findings hold potentially profound implications for businesses around the world. With a mixed-methods research design, our project will rigorously test these and other novel propositions about financial resilience and thereby develop a new, actionable, substantively meaningful research agenda of genuine consequence to both academic and policy communities.
Northeastern Collaborative on Resilient Energy (N-CORE)
The goal of the Northeastern Collaborative on Resilient Energy (N-CORE) is to facilitate new collaborative energy-related research across campus and catalyze the impact of university innovations. Despite a strong track-record of extensive research capacity in energy system resilience at Northeastern, mechanisms to connect, communicate, and coordinate energy related research and education among different departments and schools, and outside institutions, have been minimal. Establishing N-CORE will provide a campus-wide structure to facilitate collaborations and strengthen productive and impactful relationships among energy resilience researchers. This initial initiative involves co-PIs from five colleges, but the structure is inclusive and open with a goal of expanding the network of energy researchers so we expect the group to grow over time. Given the diversity of energy research expertise at Northeastern, seed funding is requested to support a series of events, meetings, and activities to catalyze a sustainable community of researchers to share ideas that will lead to the development of large, new collaborations and novel transdisciplinary research proposals. N-CORE will also actively explore the potential for establishing an externally funded Northeastern Energy Institute. N-CORE will also work to support interdisciplinary educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students that focus on energy.
A ‘network of networks’ approach to multiscale dependence in critical infrastructure lifelines under resilience stressors
While the increasing complexity and intelligence of critical infrastructures enable us to make better decisions and reduce the associated risks with such decisions, these infrastructures themselves are at risk due to variety of factors including weather extreme, climate change, cyber-attacks, extreme changes in the operating environment. Therefore, developing thorough understanding of the dependence structure among extreme events is critical for evaluating the impact of stressors on infrastructure and natural systems (stressed systems), and human lives and economies (impacted systems). This project will develop a novel and efficient framework that will enable analytical prediction of complex behaviors, in response to system and policy changes. Our framework, including resilience focused methods and computational tools, will provide an improved understanding of the interdependencies created by the interactions between the physical, the cyber, and social, behavioral and economic elements of interdependent critical infrastructure systems.
Bridging the gap: A proposal for a framework to integrate individual and community resilience to violence
Homicide remains the 2nd leading cause of death among those aged 15-24 and assault and youth violence costs our society more than $16 billion in medical and work loss costs annually. Where past scholarship on violence has remained divided by discipline (psychology and sociology, for example) and by level of analysis (split between individual and community levels), our team seeks to bridge these gaps and create a new, unified approach. Using mixed-methods approaches to identify the factors which create resilience to violence at the individual and community levels we will work with local partners to implement programs that enhance these factors among youth in high-burden communities in the northeast.
Safe places and politics of fear: An interdisciplinary investigation of “Sanctuary Cities”
This project considers ways that cities might become more resilient as they respond to various forms of oppression, human rights violations, and other unjust exercises of power worldwide. As an entry point to this issue, we focus on Boston and the concept of sanctuary cities. Our interdisciplinary research team will explore four aspects of the sanctuary cities concept and its implementation in Boston: (1) their philosophical grounding; (2) their intersecting legal frameworks, including infrastructure, immigrant status and law enforcement; (3) their impacts on health and well-being of city residents; and (4) their spatial dimensions. We will expand our knowledge base through engagement with local and national experts, convening a series of group consultations. Our team will initiate several pilot projects to further explore the impact and significance of the sanctuary city concept, leveraging ongoing research involving immigrants’ experiences of bias in Boston. Our exploration will involve travel to at least two other U.S. sanctuary cities to initiate a comparative analysis.
Modeling tools for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA)
National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) primary focus is to track and locate the movement of specific goods with a special interest in the detection of anomalies in the goods’ movements, which may indicate nefarious activity. NGA analysts need tools that aid them in real-time anomaly detection, including models that describe the complex system of global supply chains from the perspectives of technology, operations, policy, and governance. With these models, current behavior can then be compared in real-time with what is considered “normal” in order to detect anomalies. We propose to: (i) identify open source and commercially available data sources for modeling movement of goods over the global supply chain infrastructure; (ii) build models and pattern recognition algorithms to describe regular global supply chain operations (potentially for a subregion); and (iii) design a framework for unexpected movement detection in real time. The developed models and algorithms will be essential to the resilience of the system in that if there is an anomaly, localized targeted actions can be taken without disrupting the entire global system. Our ultimate goal is to build a proof of concept tool for NGA that will lead to longer term external funding for the continuation and extension of the research agenda.
Automated assessment of damaged environments due to extreme events using unmanned aerial vehicles
The economic growth and vitality of the United States relies fundamentally on having a sound, robust, and resilient infrastructure. However, after extreme events such as hurricanes, storm surge, or earthquakes, vulnerable structures often have significant damage or may be collapsed. The goal of this project is to transform the efficiency, fidelity, and safety of current critical infrastructure inspection methods by using machine intelligence through the development of autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles to document damage after extreme events. Building on prior work of the investigators related to automated inspection strategies of intact structures, the proposed research will provide new capabilities for automated damage assessment that can become key to documenting a damaged environment to facilitate a quick return to full functionality. We propose that small aerial robots, coupled with three-dimensional imaging and the state-of-the-art in planning, modeling, and analysis, will provide safe and efficient, high-precision assessment of damaged structures.
Measuring resilience for coastal adaptation
Leveraging a unique partnership with UNDP, this interdisciplinary project, drawing on the Co-PI’s backgrounds in international development, adaptation policy, and coastal resilience, will develop a framework of indicators to measure resilience in the context of coastal adaptation projects in developing countries. Building on evidence generated from the past ten years of UNDP experience with coastal adaptation projects as well as existing literature on measuring resilience, we will identify indicators that will address the efficacy, cost- effectiveness, and feasibility of various coastal adaptation investments and their contribution to coastal resilience. This framework will then be tested a coastal adaptation project implemented by UNDP. This study will advance the theoretical and empirical literature on resilience and will have direct policy impact through the engagement with UNDP and its government counterparts.