PI: Dr. Ali Mehrizi-Sani
Co-PI: Dr. Kereshmeh Afsari
Environmental disasters, such as storms, wild fires, hurricanes, and oil spills, displace and disrupt the lives of millions of Americans every year. For example, in 2018, California wildfires caused the evacuation of 50,000 people; in 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed an estimated 300,000 homes leaving more than 1 million people homeless; and more recently in 2017, Hurricane Maria damaged more than 60,000 homes and left 450,000 customers without power (Fig. 1 ). Such disasters have two major impacts: • Disasters have a profound psychological impact. For example, suicides in the three months after Maria ,  increased by 32%; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) rate was 44% among displaced Hurricane Maria survivors . With a large population traumatized simultaneously, these rates usually increase over time as psychosocial stressors mount . • Disasters destroy or damage civil infrastructure, e.g., electricity delivery and housing (our focus here), which further magnifies the precarious living situation. Victims crave security, comfort, and a semblance of control over their lives in addition to basic Maslovian needs.
The intellectual merit of this project lies in design of (a) adaptive shelters; and (b) low-cost high-efficiency solar photovoltaic (PV) energy harvesters. These efforts will contribute to the understanding of how a smart housing unit can facilitate faster recovery of victims of large-scale disasters. The intellectual challenges in the proposed research vision require close synergies among experts in engineering, architecture, construction, sociology, public health, computer science, and computational medicine.