Leadership Team


Betty Sao-Hou Lai (Principal Investigator) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College as of July 1, 2018. Before joining Boston College, she received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology, with a specialization in children and families, from the University of Miami. She completed her clinical internship in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She began her academic career as an Assistant Professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University. Dr. Lai is a Next Generation of Hazard and Disasters Researchers Fellow, and she is also a National Scholar for the Academy on Violence and Abuse.

Dr. Lai’s research focuses on how children and families respond to disasters and other traumatic stressors. Her recent work has focused on children’s mental health symptoms, physical health symptoms, and school functioning following large scale disasters (e.g., Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, and Charley; bushfires in Australia). Her work also examines how advanced statistical modeling strategies may be applied to better understand how to minimize the effects of disasters on children’s functioning.


Ann-Margaret EsnardAnn-Margaret Esnard (Co-Principal Investigator) is a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Public Management and Policy at Georgia State University. She was hired in 2013 as part of the cluster on “Shaping the Future of Cities,” during the third phase of the University’s Second Century Initiative. She served as the Chair of GSU’s Council for the Progress of Cities from 2014-2016.

Her expertise encompasses urban planning, disaster planning, vulnerability assessment, and GIS/spatial analysis. She has been involved in a number of research initiatives, including NSF-funded projects on topics of population displacement from catastrophic disasters, school recovery after disasters, long-term recovery, and community resilience. She is the coauthor of the 2014 book Displaced by Disasters: Recovery and Resilience in a Globalizing World, and co-editor of the 2017 book Coming Home after Disaster: Multiple Dimensions of Housing Recovery.


Student Contributors 

Postdoctoral Fellows

Chris Wyczalkowskichrisw-for-web
Email: cwyczalkowski1@gsu.edu
Doctoral Degree: PhD in Public Policy | Georgia State University and Georgia Institute of Technology
Previous Degrees: BS, Meteorology | Pennsylvania State University; MS, Housing and Consumer Economics | University of Georgia
Research Interests: Urban neighborhood change; Public transportation policy; Urban poverty; Urban space and public health; Sustainable development; Urban policy analysis and program evaluation; Behavioral economics

PhD Students

Melissa Osborne
Email: mcowart6@gsu.edu
From: Atlanta, GA
Previous Degrees: BA in Sociology | Berry College; MPH (Epidemiology concentration) | Georgia State University
Current Status: Third Year Doctoral Student in Public Health (Epidemiology concentration) | Georgia State University
Research Interests: Violence prevention, child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, firearm violence, child health and wellbeing


Natasha Prudent Malminheadshot_natasha
Email: nprudent1@student.gsu.edu
From: Atlanta, GA
Previous Degrees:  BA in Chemistry | Denison University; MPH in Global Environmental Health | Emory University
Current Status:Second Year Doctoral Student in Public Policy | Georgia State University/Georgia Institute of Technology – Joint Degree
Research Interests: I am interested in environmental justice and issues around public health system recovery after large-scale disasters. Methodological interests include spatial statistics and the public health application of social network sensors.


NaeHyung Lee
Email: nlee44@student.gsu.edu
From: Seoul, South Korea
Previous Degrees: BA in English Language and Linguistics & BBA in Business Administration | Korea University; MS in Public Policy and Management | Carnegie Mellon University
Current Status: Doctoral Student in Public Health | Georgia State University
Research Interests: Mental & physical health, hunger & malnutrition, health care education and policy intervention strategies for refugee and immigrant populations.


Masters Students

Hazel Shah
Email: hshah14@student.gsu.edu
From: Stockbridge, GA
Previous Degree: BS in Biochemistry | Georgia Institute of Technology
Current Status: Second Year MPH student, Biostatistics Concentration | Georgia State University


Michelle Ping-Lee D’Amico
Email: mlee119@student.gsu.edu
From: Los Angeles, CA
Previous Degree:  BA in Public Health | University of California, Berkeley
Current Status: First Year MPH student, Biostatistics Concentration | Georgia State University


Philip Hudson
Email: phudson1@student.gsu.edu
From: Atlanta, GA
Previous Degree: BA in Psychology | Georgia State University
Current Status: Second year MPH student, Biostatistics Concentration | Georgia State University


Cherish Caldwell
Email: ccaldwell20@student.gsu.edu
From: Chattanooga, TN
Previous Degree: BS in Nursing | University of Tennessee
Current Status: Second year MPH student, Biostatistics Concentration | Georgia State


Undergraduate Students

Richard Ortiz
Email: rortiz5@student.gsu.edu
From: Athens, GA
Current Status: Senior Political Science Student, Pre-Law Concentration | Georgia State University


Ryan Savage 
Email: rsavage4@student.gsu.edu
From: Atlanta, GA
Current Status: Senior Public Policy Student, Public Management and Governance | Georgia State University


Rachel Davis
Email: rdavis86@student.gsu.edu
From: Tyrone, GA
Current Status: Freshman Mathematics Student, Statistics Concentration | Georgia State University




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