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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Geography

Faculty & Staff Directory

Susan L. Cutter

Carolina Distinguished Professor & Director of the Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute
Department of Geography
University of South Carolina

Phone Number: (803) 777-1590
Office: Callcott, Room 312
Susan L. Cutter


Dr. Susan Cutter is a Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography at the University of South Carolina and director of the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute and the IRDR Center of Excellence on Vulnerability and Resilience Metrics.  She has authored or edited thirteen books, 150 plus peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and mentored more than 60 masters and doctoral candidates.  Her research focusses on vulnerability and resilience science with specific reference to methods, models, and metrics.  Her scientific contributions include the hazards of place model of vulnerability, the disaster resilience of place model, as well as tools for assessing spatial and temporal variability in vulnerability (the Social Vulnerability Index or SoVI®) and the Baseline Resilience Indicators for Communities (BRIC) Index.  Her policy-relevant work focuses on the evidentiary basis for emergency management and disaster recovery policy and practice at local, state, national, and international levels.  In the immediate aftermath of the 2015 South Carolina flood disaster the state recovery office used SoVI® to allocate recovery resources and as part of the recovery plan submitted to HUD—an example of translating science into practice. Funding from federal, state, and local agencies including NSF, NOAA, South Carolina’s Emergency Management Division (EMD), and Florida’s Department of Health support her research.  Dr. Cutter presently serves on many national advisory boards and committees including those of National Research Council (NRC), the Natural Hazards Center, and UK DFID Research Advisory Group. She serves on many editorial boards including Journal of Extreme Events, Weather, Climate, and Society, Natural Hazards, and International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction.  She is also co-executive editor of Environment and is Editor-in-Chief for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia’s Natural Hazard Science. Dr. Cutter is an elected fellow of AAAS, past president of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) and past president of the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA). She received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the AAG (2010) and an honorary doctorate from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (2015), and was elected as a foreign member of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters. 


Hazards, risk, and disasters
Vulnerability science
Environmental equality and inequality


GEOG 330: Geography of Disasters
GEOG 530: Environmental Hazards
GEOG 730: Seminar in Environmental Geography
GEOG 735: Seminar in Political Geography
GEOG 830: Advanced Seminar in Environmental Geography

Representative Publications 

Birkmann, J., F. Wenzel, S. Greiving, M. Garschagen, D. Vallée, W. Nowak, T. Welle, S. Fina, A. Goris, B. Rilling, F. Fiedrich, A. Fekete, S. L. Cutter, S. Düzgün, A. Ley, M. Friedrich, E. Kuhlmann, B. Novák, S. Wieprecht, C. Riegel, A. Thieken, J. Rhyner, U. Ulbrich, and J. K. Mitchell, 2016. Extreme events, critical infrastrucures, human vulnerability and strategic planning: emerging research issues, J. Extreme Events 3(2): doi:10.1142/S23455737616500172 (March 16, 2017).

Cutter, S. L., 2016.  The changing context of hazard extremes: Events, impacts, and consequences, J. Extreme Events, 3(2):   doi:10.1142/S2345737616710056 (February 2, 2017).

Ismail-Zadeh, A. T., S. L. Cutter, K. Takeuchi, and D. Paton, 2017.  Forging a paradigm shift in disaster science, Natural Hazards, 86 (2):969-988.

Hofferth, S. L., E. F. Moran, B. Entwisle, J. L. Aber, H. E. Brady, D. Conley, S. L. Cutter, C. C. Eckel, D. Hamilton, and K. Hubacek, 2017.  Introduction: History and motivation, Annals, American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS) 669: 6-17.

Cutter, S. L., 2017.  The forgotten casualties redux: Women, children, and disaster risk, Global Environmental Change 42: 117-121.

Cutter, S. L., 2017.  The perilous nature of food supplies: Natural hazards, social vulnerability, and disaster resilience, Environment 59(1): 4-15.

Cutter, S.L., K. D. Ash, and C. T. Emrich, 2016.  Urban-rural differences in disaster resilience, Annals of the American Association of Geographers 106(6):1236-1252.

Gall, M. and S. L. Cutter, 2016.  Understanding disaster risk through loss data. In Solving the Puzzle: Where to Invest to Understand Risk, Written Contributions. Washington DC: World Bank, p. 70-73.

Hummell, B. M. de L., S. L. Cutter, and C. T. Emrich, 2016.  Social vulnerability to natural hazards in Brazil, Int J. Disaster Risk Sci 7(2):111-122. 

Cutter, S. L., 2016.  Commentary:  Resilience to What? Resilience for Whom?  The Geographical Journal  182(2): 110-113.

Cutter, S. L., 2016.  Demographic change after Hurricane Katrina: A tale of two places, in Helen James and Douglas Paton, The Consequences of Disasters: Demographic, Planning and Policy Implications.  Springfield, IL: CH Thomas Publishers, p. 49-64.

Cutter, S. L., 2016.  “The landscape of disaster resilience indicators in the USA,” Natural Hazards 80(2):741-758.

Bowser, G. C. and S. L. Cutter, 2015. “Stay or go? Examining decision making and behavior in hurricane evacuations,” Environment 57(6):28-41.

Cutter, S. L. and M. Gall, 2015.  “Sendai Targets at Risk,” Nature Climate Change 5 (August):707-709.

Cutter, S. L., A. Ismail-Zadeh, I. Alcántara-Ayala, O. Altan, D. N. Baker, S. Briceño, H. Gupta, A. Holloway, D. Johnston, G. A. McBean, Y. Ogawa, D. Paton, E. Porio, R. K. Silbereisen, K. Takeuchi, G. B. Valsecchi, C. Vogel, and G. Wu, 2015.  “Pool Knowledge to Stem Losses from Disasters,” Nature 522:277-279.

Cutter, S.L. and C. Emrich, 2015.  “A Tale of Two Recoveries: 5 Lessons from Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.  Emergency Management June 25, 2015.

Ismail-Zadeh, A. and S.Cutter (editors and authors), 2015.  Disaster Risks Research and Assessment to Promote Risk Reduction and Management.  Paris: ICSU-ISSC Ad-hoc Group on Disaster Risk Assessment.

Gall, M., K. H. Nguyen, and S.L. Cutter, 2015.  Integrated research on disaster risk: Is it really integrated?  Intl. Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 12:255-267.