University of South Florida


Graphic for hurricane and storm-related USF experts with palm trees blowing in the wind of a dark sky

USF faculty experts gear up for interviews with the start of the 2022 hurricane season

With the prediction of another above-average Atlantic hurricane season, the University of South Florida is making a variety of experts available to discuss hurricane and storm-related topics. Listed below are some of our experts, along with their focus areas. As members of the media develop stories throughout the months ahead, those who are interested in an interview are asked to contact Kevin Watler at or 407-267-8402.

Hurricanes, Wind, Storm Surge and Coastal Subsidence

Donny Smoak (College of Arts and Sciences) is a biochemist who studies the response of coastal wetlands to climate change and extreme weather events such as hurricanes. 

Mark Luther (College of Marine Science) is an associate professor who uses real-time ocean observations with numerical models of ocean currents to address various challenges ranging from maritime safety and security to water quality and ocean responses to climate change. He is director of the Center for Maritime and Port Studies and has provided operation and maintenance support for the NOAA/NOS Tampa Bay Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System since 1995. Luther can comment on port security, storm surge, and the broader relationship between hurricanes, climate change and the ocean.

Gary Mitchum (College of Marine Science), associate dean, is a global sea-level rise expert who has served on the Tampa Bay Climate Science Advisory Panel that helps to establish local sea-level rise projections. He can comment on the broader connections between climate change and hurricanes, as well as the impacts of sea-level rise, storm surge and hurricanes in Tampa Bay.

Timothy Dixon (School of Geosciences) is a professor who uses satellite geodesy (GPS, InSAR) to study coastal subsidence as well as earthquake and volcano deformation, aquifer depletion and melting of ice sheets and glaciers. He can talk about the effects of hurricanes as they relate to coastal flooding and long-term changes in the coastline.
Chris Meindl (College of Arts & Sciences) is an associate professor of geography who specializes in human-environment interactions in Florida. His research touches on people’s perceptions of environmental issues, especially natural hazards and water resources.

Chris Meindl (College of Arts & Sciences) is an associate professor of geography who specializes in human-environment interactions in Florida. His research touches on people’s perceptions of environmental issues, especially natural hazards and water resources.

Hurricanes and Mental health

Judith Becker Bryant (Department of Psychology) is a professor who can comment on how to prepare children for traumatic events, such as hurricanes, and the impact that such events have on children. She is a national expert on developmental psychology, with a specific emphasis on language and social development in young children. 

Kristin Kosyluk (College of Behavioral and Community Sciences) is an assistant professor in the Department of Mental Health Law & Policy. She can comment on the stress and anxiety that storms and hurricanes can cause and the impact of natural disasters on people living with mental illnesses. 

Hurricanes and the Elderly

Lindsay Peterson (School of Aging Studies) is an assistant professor and conducts research on the impact of hurricanes and other disasters on older adults in nursing homes, assisted living communities, and in the community overall, including disaster preparation and response for those with dementia. She has written a number of articles about disaster preparedness in long-term care, including preparedness for hurricanes and pandemics.

Kathy Black (College of Behavioral and Community Sciences) is a professor who studies gerontology, elder care and end-of-life issues.

Community Preparedness and Recovery

Robin Ersing (School of Public Affairs) is an associate professor who studies community-based disaster preparedness to promote resilience in post-storm recovery. Ersing has been involved in international research in Ghana and Indonesia to study the experience of women exposed to natural hazards.

Elizabeth Dunn (College of Public Health) is an instructor who specializes in community resiliencies and disaster mitigation, preparedness and response for vulnerable populations. Her work experience includes community education and outreach, mass care (i.e., sheltering, feeding, health), logistics and planning for disasters at the local level. She can discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting emergency management and preparedness as it pertains to hurricane evacuation shelters, procurement of PPE and impacts on the agricultural sector.

Economics/Tourism and Hospitality

Michael Snipes (Muma College of Business) is an instructor of economics who studies the economic impact of tourism. Other areas of study include family dynamics and the link between macro-economic fluctuations and suicide.

Cihan Cobanoglu (Muma College of Business) is a professor, McKibbon Endowed Chair and director of the M3 Center for Hospitality Technology and Innovation. He focuses on hospitality trends and technologies, including those impacting tourism.

Social Media and Storms

Kelli Burns (Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications) is an associate professor and expert on social media. She can discuss the growing role of Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media in natural disasters.  She has studied extensively how social media is integrated into our lives and changes patterns of communication. 

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