Louise Comfort

Louise K. Comfort is professor emerita and 2009–17 director of the Center for Disaster Management at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently a visiting researcher with CITRIS and the Banatao Institute at UC Berkeley.

Elected a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration in 2006, she received the 2020 Fred Riggs Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Section on International Comparative Administration of the American Society for Public Administration. Her recent books include The Dynamics of Risk: Changing Technologies and Collective Action in Seismic Events (Princeton University Press, 2019), which received the 2020 Don K. Price Best Book Award from the Section on Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy of the American Political Science Association; Global Risk Management: The Role of Collective Cognition in Response to COVID-19 (Routledge Publications, September 2022), co-edited with Mary Lee Rhodes; and Hazardous Seas: A Sociotechnical Framework for Early Tsunami Detection and Warning (Island Press, 2023), co-edited with Harkunti Rahayu.

She is currently a co-principal investigator on a National Science Foundation research project focusing on wildfire, “Designing Smart, Sustainable Risk Reduction in Hazard-Prone Communities: Modeling Risk Across Scales of Time and Space,” led by UC Berkeley’s Kenichi Soga. She also led a NSF-funded Social Science Extreme Events Research reconnaissance team to study the communication and coordination processes following the Feb. 6, 2023, Kahramanmaras earthquakes in Turkiye. She studies the dynamics of decision-making in response to urgent events such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, wildfire and COVID-19.

Research interests: complex adaptive systems, sociotechnical systems, decision-making under uncertainty, network analysis, crisis management, hazards research.

Research Thrusts