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Lecture Discusses Difficulty of Disaster Logistics
UVM welcomes Dr. HolguÃn-Veras for Burack Series
- By Zachary N. Borst
Most researchers can probably list off a few locations where their field work led them to uncomfortable or austere environments. Dr. José Holguín-Veras, a researcher specializing in disaster humanitarian logistics, almost always finds himself in some of the most severely damaged locations on earth.
Dr. Holguín-Veras was on campus November 14th, 2013, as a distinguished guest of the Burack Lecture Series. Dr. Holguín-Veras discuss his research and the nuances of understanding how humanitarian aid finds its way to victims. The presentation was unfortunately very timely with the disaster in the Phillipines unfolding as he spoke. Dr. Holguín-Veras conducts his research during or immediately following disasters around the world. The goal of the research is to take lessons learned during events and to then translate these lessons into policy to better prepare governments for future disasters.
For his presentation at UVM, Dr. Holguín-Veras focused on his Disaster Humanitarian Logistics research. Much of the talk was focused on the massive scale of a disaster and then need to organize the materials that will flood into the area. Dr. Holguín-Veras explained that people want to help and often this means sending things that they believe will help the people who have been affected by a disaster. Unfortunately, this is often not what is needed following a disaster and the huge amounts of materials can delay or prevent the arrival of needed materials. An example given by Dr. Holguín-Veras was the delivery of winter jackets following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a country in the Caribbean.
Before the talk, Dr. Holguín-Veras met UVM staff and students as well as several personnel from the State of Vermont involved in disaster response. This was a unique opportunity for researchers and those involved in disaster operations to get together and discuss the field of disaster logistics.
The day’s events were thanks to the Burack Distinguished Lecture series. The series is designed to bring outside guest speakers to the university and is funded by a generous endowment provided by Dan and Carol Burack. Dan is a UVM alumni from the class of ’55.