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About Me


North Carolina is, if my count is correct, the fifth state in which I have held a driver's license. I am a native of Seattle, and lived there until I was nine, whereupon my family moved to Anchorage, Alaska. I graduated from Robert Service High School in Anchorage, then attended the University of Oregon, earning my B.A. (cum laude) in political science. By dint of some good luck and excellent mentoring by the late Jim Klonoski at the University of Oregon, I was able to attend Rutgers University's Eagleton Institute of Politics, where I earned my M.A. in political science, focusing on public policy. I then worked for state government in New Jersey, including a one-year stint in the office of Governor Thomas Kean--a fascinating experience for anyone interested in policy making. The other four years included two tours of duty at the New Jersey Department of Transportation, where I worked for some of the finest public managers I've ever known.

After five years of state employment, I decided that I needed to decide if I wanted to remain a public manager, or become an academic. Since I really enjoyed colleges and love being on campus, wherever that campus is, I applied to and was accepted to the University of Washington, where I spent five years under the mentorship of Dr. Peter May. My dissertation became my book, After Disaster. My examination fields were public policy, American politics, and public law.

My research interests have centered on the politics of natural hazards and industrial accidents. I approach my work from two angles--as a subject matter expert in this field, and as a contributor to public policy theory. In particular, my main interests are What causes some events to get on the agenda, while others do not? and Do we learn anything from sudden "focusing events" to prevent disastrous events from recurring or from being as damaging as their precursors? More details on my work are on the research page.

I joined the faculty in what was then called the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University at Albany, SUNY (most just call it SUNY-Albany) in 1995. The school is now called the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy. While there I served, from 2001-2005 as director of the Center for Policy Research. I spent 2006 on leave from the university at the National Science Foundation in suburban Washington, DC. I was the program director for the Infrastructure Management and Hazard Response Program.

In 2007 I joined the School of Public and International Affairs at NC State. My family and I are very excited to be here; the energy and enthusiasm of the people in this region are infectious, and, of course, the Research Triangle region is one of the nation's great centers of research and learning.


A longer biography, including stories of growing up in Alaska, will be linked to here soon.