Erica D. Kuligowski
Dr. Erica D. Kuligowski is the leader of and a sociologist in the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fire Group of the Fire Research Division (FRD) of the Engineering Laboratory (EL) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Dr. Kuligowski holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, as well as a B.S. and M.S. in Fire Protection Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Kuligowski's Ph.D. dissertation focused on occupant decision-making and behavior performed during the pre-evacuation period of the 2001 World Trade Center disaster. Her research interests are human behavior in emergencies, including preparedness, response and recovery behaviors, community resilience, behavioral modeling, and the modeling of social systems. Dr. Kuligowski joined NIST in June 2002 and has expertise in evacuation and response behavior, people movement and behavioral data collection and analysis from fires and other emergencies, emergency communications, and evacuation modeling.
Dr. Kuligowski was part of three NIST Investigation teams. She received U.S. DOC Gold Medals for her contributions to the federal investigation of the 2001World Trade Center disaster, where she studied the evacuation of building occupants, and the federal investigation of the May 22, 2011, tornado in Joplin, Missouri, where she studied emergency communication systems and public response. Dr. Kuligowski also received the U.S. DOC Bronze medal for her contributions to the federal investigation of the 2003 Rhode Island Night Club Fire, where she performed evacuation modeling to recreate evacuation scenarios of the fire event. From April 2014 to January 2016, Dr. Kuligowski joined the Community Resilience Group of the Materials and Structural Systems Division (MSSD) of the Engineering Laboratory (EL), which developed a methodology to plan for resilience by prioritizing buildings and infrastructure systems based on their importance in supporting the social and economic functions in the community (entitled: Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems).
At present, Dr. Kuligowski leads the WUI Fire Group, which develops, advances, and deploys measurement science to reduce the risk of fire spread in WUI communities. Work is currently being carried out to further develop risk exposure metrics, predict spread of fires in WUI communities, assess fire performance of structures and communities, mitigate the effects of WUI fires on structures and communities, conduct disaster and failure studies to reduce the risk of fire hazards in WUI communities, and better understand the social and economic impact of WUI fires on U.S. communities. She is also leading a project developing guidance for U.S. communities on the creation and provision of public alerts – via public siren systems and social media (including mobile alerts).