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College of Arts & Sciences
Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute

Faculty & Staff Directory

Susan L. Cutter

Carolina Distinguished Professor and Director
Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute
University of South Carolina

Phone Number 803.777.1590
Office: Callcott Room 312
Curriculum vitae: Download PDF


Dr. Susan L. Cutter is a Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography at the University of South Carolina where she directs the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute. Her primary research interests are in the area of disaster vulnerability/resilience science—what makes people and the places where they live vulnerable to extreme events and how vulnerability and resilience are measured, monitored, and assessed. She has authored or edited thirteen books, more than 150 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Her latest book, Hurricane Katrina and the Forgotten Coast of Mississippi (Cambridge University Press 2014), examines the post-disaster recovery along the coast and the role that historic, economic, and social factors play in producing the differential recovery that is so apparent today. She has led post event field teams in examining Three Mile Island (1979), Hurricane Floyd (1999), September 11th World Trade Center attack (2001), Graniteville, SC train derailment and chlorine spill (2005), Hurricane Katrina (2005), and Hurricane Sandy (2012). She has provided expert testimony to Congress on hazards and vulnerability and was a member of the US Army Corps of Engineers IPET team evaluating the social impacts of the New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Protection System in response to Hurricane Katrina. Dr. Cutter has provided expert testimony to Congress on hazards and vulnerability and was a member of the US Army Corps of Engineers IPET team evaluating the social impacts of flood protection systems in New Orleans in response to Hurricane Katrina. She also served as a juror in the HUD-sponsored Rebuild by Design competition which awarded innovative projects to increase resilience in the Hurricane Sandy affected region. Dr. Cutter serves on many national advisory boards and committees including those of National Research Council (NRC), the AAAS, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Natural Hazards Center (Boulder, CO), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). She also serves as Vice-Chair of the international Integrated Research on Disaster Risk Science Committee supported by ISSC, ICSU, and UN-ISDR. Dr. Cutter is co-executive editor of Environment and Editor-in-Chief of Oxford University Research Encyclopedias: Natural Hazards Science. She was a coordinating lead author of Chapter 5 of the IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation as well as a convening lead author a chapter of the US Third National Climate Assessment on urban systems, infrastructure, and vulnerability. She also chaired the committee that produced the recent National Research Council report, Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative. She is an elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (1999). She is also past President of the Association of American Geographers (2000) and past President of the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) (2008). In 2011 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of American Geographers. Dr. Cutter held the MunichRe Foundation Chair (2009-2012) on Social Vulnerability through the United Nations University-Institute for Environment and Human Security, in Bonn, Germany. In 2013, she received the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Faculty Achievement award and in 2015 she was awarded an honorary degree from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. She received her B.A. from California State University, East Bay and her M.A. and Ph.D. (1976) from the University of Chicago.