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March 29, 2011

Understanding a Triple Disaster: UMBC Experts Discuss the Crisis in Japan

Chelsea Haddaway
Communications Manager

Dinah Winnick
Communications Manager

Since March 11, Japan’s triple disaster—a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown—has held the attention of the world. UMBC experts and students are available to speak on issues related to the disaster, including the nuclear threat, emergency response and worldwide efforts to help the victims.

Constantine Vaporis, professor of history, is the founding director of UMBC’s new Asian Studies program and a scholar of Japanese history. In the past year he has taught two three-day courses on contemporary Japan and the modern history of Japan to government and military personnel. He is the author of "Breaking Barriers: Travel and the State in Early Modern Japan" and "Tour of Duty: Samurai, Military Service in Edo and the Culture of Early Modern Japan." His op-ed, “Japan Needs Our Help” appeared in the Baltimore Sun on March 22. He can be reached at or 410-455-2092 (o).

Nuclear Safety

Kate Brown, associate professor of history, is an expert on the history of nuclear disasters. She is working on a book, to be published in 2012, called "Plutopolis: Two Model Cities, Two Plutonium Disasters, and the Great Soviet and American Nuclear Cover-up." She also recently published an article in International and Working Class History about people in Russia living downstream from the Soviet plutonium plant called “The Forsaken: The Unfinished Business of Making Plutonium in Russia.” She can be reached at

Devin T. Hagerty, professor and chair of political science, is an international relations expert who focuses on national security and nuclear issues. With primary expertise on nuclear proliferation, Hagerty can also comment on public perceptions of nuclear threats and international cooperation/conflict on nuclear issues, particularly in South Asia. Contact him at or 410-455-2185 (o).

Emergency Response

Richard A. Bissell, associate professor and graduate program director in emergency health services, is an expert on emergency preparedness and response and EMS system development, with specialties in rural and international EMS. Bissell’s work in emergency health epidemiology and disaster services planning/evaluation has taken him to over 40 countries. He has served on the advisory boards of the American Red Cross and World Health Organization. In the wake of Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency, he appeared on CNN’s “Your Bottom Line” to discuss how families can plan for disasters. Contact him at or 410-455-3776 (o).

Jeffrey T. Mitchell, clinical professor in emergency health services, focuses on critical incident stress and teaches on disaster management, emergency response to crisis, management of search and rescue operations, psychological first aid and stress and burn-out among EHS professionals. He is president emeritus of the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation and a member of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security Stress Working Group. Mitchell has provided EHS training and consults to the FBI, DHS, FEMA, U.S. military, U.S. Secret Service and other groups in North and South America, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. Contact him at or 410-455-3777 (o).

Mark Bulmer, research associate professor at UMBC’s Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, is a geophysicist with extensive experience assessing the physical changes to landscapes brought on by earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters. He is the author of more than 60 journal articles, reports and conference proceedings papers. Bulmer sees the need to understand the physical changes resulting from the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, since improved knowledge of the changes in the environment will provide disaster responders with critical information that can assist in the on-going, time sensitive efforts. Contact him at .

Relief Effort

Mary Igoe ’12, mechanical engineering, is the president of UMBC’s Japanese Culture Club. The club is organizing two UMBC events to benefit disaster relief efforts: a sale of red oragami rose keychains, which will run March 29-April 1, and an arcade day featuring popular video games on April 1. She can be reached at

Momoka Watanabe ’10, psychology, was in Tokyo when the earthquake struck Japan. “It was the largest earthquake tremor I have ever felt in Tokyo, and I thought I would die for a moment,” she said. Watanabe is currently working in Tokyo and living with her family. “My family and I are safe, but it is painful to see and hear about the people in the affected areas,” she said. “I see many people who are willing to cooperate with others to help the victims and ease this devastating situation.” She can be contacted at

Cell phone numbers available upon request.

Posted by chelseah at March 29, 2011 11:19 AM