UTRGV Disaster Studies Program coordinator receives Fulbright U.S. Scholar

By Maria Elena Hernandez, UTRGV Staff

In May 2008, Cyclone Nargis hit the Southeast Asian country Burma, killing more than 100,000 people.

“There were many issues with disaster mitigation, preparedness, risk communication, response and so many things,” said Dr. Dean Kyne, the UTRGV Disaster Studies Program coordinator and associate professor of sociology.

This year, Kyne received the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award, andas part of the program, the UTRGV associate professor will be using his expertise to help build disaster resiliency in Burma.

“It was one of the many countries in Southeast Asia impacted by many disasters in the past, and there is room to improve disaster preparedness and mitigation,”he said.

The Fulbright Program is a prestigious, international educational exchange program allowing people to study, teach, conduct research and exchange ideas. Fulbright alumni include 60 Nobel Prize laureates, 86 Pulitzer Prize recipients, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.

As an award recipient, Kyne will travel to Burma next summer to help develop curriculum and deliver lectures focused on preparing for and recovering from disasters to enhance disaster resiliency.

“It’s a great honor for me.I couldn’t express my feeling of excitement with accurate words,”Kyne said, adding that he is glad to represent the United States, UTRGV and the UTRGV Disaster Studies Program.

Kynewill stay in Burma for at least four months. He is no stranger to the area.

“I was born in that country, so I can truly understand the culture and the language. I could be a good ambassador to help in that particular area,” he said.

When his time in Burma is complete, Kyne– like other Fulbright alumni – will share his experience and work to encourage international study and exchange.

As part of his current contributions to the disaster studies field, Kyne is editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Disaster Response and Emergency Management, and guest editor for ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information’s Special Issue “Disaster Management and Geospatial Information.”He also has published several articles about disaster and emergency management, including some focused on hurricane preparedness in the Rio Grande Valley.