The New Orleans City Council recognized the University of New Orleans' Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology (UNO-CHART) earlier this month.
The center, which formed 14 years ago, is marking its 101st student research assistant this year. Student research assistants receive hands-on training in such areas as community resilience assessments, disaster mitigation planning and storm mitigation efforts.
Monica Farris, center director, gave a short presentation during the council meeting on March 3, explaining what UNO-CHART does as an applied social science hazards research center. Founder Shirley Laska then highlighted the center's work.
"I would like to congratulate Dr. Shirley Laska and Dr. Monica Farris along with the entire UNO-CHART organization for training so many well-prepared and qualified students,” Councilwoman Susan Guidry said at the meeting. “UNO-CHART prepares students to effectively manage hazard mitigation and risk reduction programs, both of which are essential to a resilient New Orleans.”
Laska pointed out that the program is almost entirely self-funded and many of the center's former researchers are now working with such organizations as the Orleans Parish 911, the Jefferson Parish Office of Flood Plain Management and Hazard Mitigation, and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.
"The students’ competency and commitment to implementing the mitigation and resiliency projects, and to their own professional growth drives the center’s success,” she said.
Of the 101 student research assistants who have passed through the center, Laska said only eight have been unable to graduate. Of those eight, she said 3 were affected by Hurricane Katrina.
“Given the challenges these days that students have in graduating, the CHART philosophy of treating the students as professionals results in their seeing themselves as professionals, including graduating,” she said.
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