Cynthia Rivas is a geographer for the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Structures Group. Ms. Rivas is a Ph.D. candidate from the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration and the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware, where she earned a geographic information systems (GIS) certificate. She holds a Master of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning from the University of California, Berkeley, where her work focused on developing automated mapping processes to extract vegetation, houses, and other urban structures for wildland urban interface fire modeling. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Conservation and Resource Studies and Society and Environment from the University of California, Berkeley.
Ms. Rivas’s dissertation focuses on the vulnerability of long-term care facilities to flooding using a GIS-based methodology to develop and map long-term care facilities and their flood risk. Her research interests include the roles of volunteered geographic information and geographic information systems in disaster science and emergency management and the use of remotely sensed data to identify high-risk communities.
Currently, Ms. Rivas is part of the NIST Hurricane Maria Program. The goals of this multi-year program are to characterize: (1) the wind environment and technical conditions associated with deaths and injuries; (2) the performance of representative critical buildings and designated safe areas in those buildings, including their dependence on distributed infrastructure such as electric power and water; (3) the performance of emergency communications systems and the public’s response to such communications; and (4) the impacts to and recovery of selected businesses, hospitals, and schools, along with the critical social functions that they provide. Ms. Rivas provides geographical information systems (GIS) expertise for the Hurricane Maria Program, including the National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Investigation of Hurricane Maria’s effects on Puerto Rico.