Dr. Maria Dillard is a Research Social Scientist for the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Community Resilience Group. Maria is also the Associate Team Lead for the NIST Hurricane Maria Program and Associate Lead Technical Investigator of the National Construction Safety Team (NCST) investigating the impacts of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico. Maria leads a project within the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program’s Study of Hurricane Maria Impacts and Recovery in Puerto Rico that is focused on the recovery of the services provided by schools and hospitals and the role of these social institutions in the recovery of communities following disasters.
Maria’s research is focused on community response to hazards and chronic stressors and the development of methods for measurement and modeling community resilience, recovery, well-being, and vulnerability. This research is aimed at providing science to strengthen the ability of communities to plan for and respond to natural and technological hazard events. Her work includes development and application of a measurement model for community well-being following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, integrated assessments of community vulnerability to climate change for climate adaptation planning, and quantification of human use and dependence on natural resources. In her current role, Maria is working to expand NIST’s research on community resilience with a particular emphasis on the social dimensions of disasters and recovery.
Previously, Maria served as the Acting Director of the Disaster and Failure Studies Program at NIST. She has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh with a focus on the measurement of social-ecological resilience for coastal and island communities and a MA in Sociology from East Carolina University. Prior to coming to NIST, Maria was a Social Scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal and Ocean Science and a researcher for the Veterans Affairs Healthcare Administration. She has professional experience in community engagement through positions focused on communications, public education, and community outreach for environmental, healthcare, and social issues.