Natural Hazards Summit Part I Speakers
Part one of the TAMEST Natural Hazards Summit will take place virtually on October 19, 2021, via Zoom. Learn more about the summit speakers below. More photos and bios are coming soon.
Robert Bullard

Robert D. Bullard, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor, Urban Planning and Environmental Policy

Texas Southern University

Dr. Robert D. Bullard is distinguished professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University in Houston. He received his Ph.D. degree from Iowa State University. Professor Bullard is often called the “father of environmental justice.” He is the founding director of the Robert D. Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at TSU, co-founder of the HBCU Climate Change Consortium and the National Black Environmental Justice Network. Dr. Bullard is the author of 18 books. His Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality introduced many readers to the field of environmental justice. His latest book is The Wrong Complexion for Protection: How the Government Response to Disaster Endangers African American Communities (2012). In 2008, Newsweek named him one of “13 Environmental Leaders of the Century.” In 2019, Apolitical named him one of the world’s 100 Most Influential People in Climate Policy, and Climate One presented him with the Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication. In 2020, WebMD gave him its Health Heroes Trailblazer Award and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) honored him with its Champions of the Earth Lifetime Leadership Award. And in 2021, he was appointed by President Biden to serve on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC).
Louise Comfort

Louise K. Comfort, Ph.D.


University of Pittsburgh

Louise K. Comfort is Professor Emerita and former Director, Center for Disaster Management, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh. She is a faculty affiliate with the Policy Lab, Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, University of California, Berkeley and Concurrent Professor, School of Government, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China, 2019. She is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and received the 2020 Fred Riggs Award for Lifetime Achievement, Section on International Comparative Administration, American Society for Public Administration. Her most recent book is The Dynamics of Risk: Changing Technologies and Collective Action in Seismic Events, Princeton University Press, 2019, which received the 2020 Don K. Price Award for Best Book from the Section on Science, Technology, and Environmental Politics, American Political Science Association. She currently serves as Chief Editor, Social Sciences, for the Natural Hazards Review, Board Member, International Comparative Policy Analysis Forum, and on the editorial boards of the American Review of Public Administration and Administration & Society. Her research has focused on decision making in urgent events: earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, and most recently, COVID-19.
Michael Coyne

Michael Coyne

Regional Director

National Weather Service, Southern Region

Michael Coyne is the Regional Director for the National Weather Service Southern Region, leading operations at 45 offices extending from New Mexico to Florida, and includes the territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Mike was the Deputy Regional Director for Southern Region from 2016 to 2021, and the Deputy Director for Performance and Resources (now the Chief Program Officer) in Southern Region from 2011 to 2016.

In those roles, he led operations and workforce management activities across a very active region, leading and supporting the NWS mission through over 75 billion-dollar weather and climate events.

He previously served as the Meteorologist-in-Charge of the Weather Forecast Office in Huntsville, Alabama. Under his leadership, the office earned four Department of Commerce Bronze Medals and back-to-back National Weather Association Operational Achievement Awards.

Mike earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Meteorology from Texas A&M University. He and his wife Lori live in Mansfield, TX with their two daughters.

Katharine Hayhoe

Katharine Hayhoe, Ph.D.

Chief Scientist, The Nature Conservancy

Horn Distinguished Professor and Endowed Professor of Public Policy and Public Law

Department of Political Science

Texas Tech University

Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist whose research focuses on understanding what climate change means for people and the places where we live. She is the Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy and a Horn Distinguished Professor and Endowed Professor of Public Policy and Public Law in the Dept. of Political Science at Texas Tech University. Her book, “Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World,” will be released in Sept 2021 and she also hosts the PBS digital series Global Weirding, currently in its fifth season. Katharine has been named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People, the United Nations Champion of the Environment, and the World Evangelical Alliance’s Climate Ambassador.
Ed Hirs

Ed Hirs

UH Energy Fellow

University of Houston

Ed Hirs is a widely quoted, internationally recognized energy economist. His work has informed national security and administrations under both parties. He is a Co-Founder of Zero Carbon Cycle LLC, a sustainable fuels company, and advisory director to an independent oil and gas company. He was a partner and CFO for an independent that had a successful exit from a shale play in 2010. He forecast the Saudi led price war against the U.S. shale plays in 2012, and he forecast the failure of the Texas grid in 2013. Ed is a UH Energy Fellow at the University of Houston where he teaches energy economics, an advisory director to the Energy Industries Council, and a director of the French American Chamber of Commerce—Texas. He founded and co-chairs an annual energy conference at Yale University.

Ed attended Yale University where he received his BA with honors and Distinction in Economics, MA in Economics, and MBA, and he holds the CFA designation.

Tanya Hoover

Chief Tonya Hoover

Acting Fire Administrator

United States Fire Administration

Tonya Hoover was named as the Acting U.S. Fire Administrator on January 20, 2021. Chief Hoover is also the Deputy Fire Administrator and the senior career federal fire official responsible for the day-to-day operations of the United States Fire Administration including the programs and training activities at the National Emergency Training Center. She also served as the superintendent of the National Fire Academy from May 2017 to January 2020 focused on promoting the professional development of the fire and emergency response community and its allied professionals; supplementing and supporting State and local fire service training programs, and developing and delivering various course unavailable at the State and local level. Prior to her tenure at USFA, Chief Hoover served as the California State Fire Marshal where she was responsible for statewide fire prevention, fire service training, pipeline safety, code and regulations development, analysis, and implementation. Chief Hoover received her MBA in Business and Human Resources from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelor of Science in Technical Education, specializing in Fire Protection and Safety, from Oklahoma State University. She holds an associate degree in Fire Protection Engineering Technology and possesses a California lifetime teaching credential for fire science. She served on the board of directors for the National Fire Protection Association and the International Fire Service Training Association and continues to engage with the International Code Council. Chief Hoover is an advocate for the women and men of the Nation’s fire and emergency medical services.
Loren Hopkins

Loren Hopkins, Ph.D.

Chief Environmental Science Officer

City of Houston

Dr. Loren Hopkins is the City of Houston Chief Environmental Science Officer, Chief of the Bureau of Community and Children’s Environmental Health at the Houston Health Department, and a Professor in the Practice in the Department of Statistics at Rice University. In this dual capacity, she conducts applied research and uses the results to inform policies at the City of Houston to improve the health of the community. Dr. Hopkins’ research on air pollution and cardiac arrest in Houston resulted in targeted CPR and education campaigns, her research on air pollution and asthma resulted in the Houston Asthma Air Aware Day warning system first piloted in HISD, and her research identifying increased rates of ambulance-treated asthma attacks resulted in the development of a program targeted toward HISD school children with uncontrolled asthma. She is currently the principal investigator of over 15 million dollars in grants for the City of Houston, including CDC and HUD-funded childhood lead poisoning prevention and surveillance programs, the city’s Environmental Health Mobile Unit/HISD school asthma support program, the CDC-funded asthma surveillance program, and the EPA-funded Community Air Toxic Monitoring Program, among others. She is currently serving as the Houston Health Department lead of the Data Services, Data Science and Statistics team and the SARS-Cov-2 wastewater surveillance team.
Peter Hotez

Peter J. Hotez, M.D., Ph.D. (NAM)

Dean, National School of Tropical Medicine

Baylor College of Medicine

Peter J. Hotez, M.D., Ph.D., is Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine where he is also the Co-director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) and Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair of Tropical Pediatrics. He is also University Professor at Baylor University, Fellow in Disease and Poverty at the James A Baker III Institute for Public Policy, Senior Fellow at the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at Texas A&M University, Faculty Fellow with the Hagler Institute for Advanced Studies at Texas A&M University, and Health Policy Scholar in the Baylor Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy.

Dr. Hotez is an internationally recognized physician-scientist in neglected tropical diseases and vaccine development. As head of the Texas Children’s CVD, he leads a team and product development partnership for developing new vaccines for hookworm infection, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and SARS/MERS/SARS-2 coronavirus, diseases affecting hundreds of millions of children and adults worldwide, while championing access to vaccines globally and in the United States. In 2006 at the Clinton Global Initiative, he co-founded the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases to provide access to essential medicines for hundreds of millions of people.

He obtained his undergraduate degree in molecular biophysics from Yale University in 1980 (phi beta kappa), followed by a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from Rockefeller University in 1986, and an M.D. from Weil Cornell Medical College in 1987. Dr. Hotez has authored more than 500 original papers and is the author of four single-author books, including Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases (ASM Press); Blue Marble Health: An Innovative Plan to Fight Diseases of the Poor amid Wealth (Johns Hopkins University Press); Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism (Johns Hopkins University Press); and a forthcoming 2020 book on vaccine diplomacy in an age of war, political collapse, climate change and anti-science (Johns Hopkins University Press).

Dr. Hotez served previously as President of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and he is founding Editor-in-Chief of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine (Public Health Section) and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (Public Policy Section). In 2011, he was awarded the Abraham Horwitz Award for Excellence in Leadership in Inter-American Health by the Pan American Health Organization of the WHO. In 2014–16, he served in the Obama Administration as US Envoy, focusing on vaccine diplomacy initiatives between the US Government and countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In 2018, he was appointed by the US State Department to serve on the Board of Governors for the US Israel Binational Science Foundation and is frequently called upon frequently to testify before US Congress. He has served on infectious disease task forces for two consecutive Texas Governors. For these efforts in 2017 he was named by FORTUNE Magazine as one of the 34 most influential people in health care, while in 2018 he received the Sustained Leadership Award from Research!America. In 2019 he received the Ronald McDonald House Charities Award for Medical Excellence.

Most recently as both a vaccine scientist and autism parent, he has led national efforts to defend vaccines and to serve as an ardent champion of vaccines going up against a growing national “antivax” threat. In 2019, he received the Award for Leadership in Advocacy for Vaccines from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Dr. Hotez appears frequently on television (including BBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC), radio, and in newspaper interviews (including the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal).

Howard Kunreuther

Howard Kunreuther, Ph.D.

Co-Director, Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, Wharton School

University of Pennsylvania

Howard Kunreuther is the James G. Dinan Professor Emeritus of Decision Sciences and Public Policy, and Co-Director of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Howard has a long-standing interest in ways that society can better manage low-probability, high-consequence events related to technological and natural hazards. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a distinguished fellow of the Society for Risk Analysis, and recipient of the Shin Research Excellence Award from the Geneva Association and International Insurance Society in recognition of his outstanding work on the role of public-private partnerships in mitigating and managing risks. Recent books include The Ostrich Paradox: Why We Underprepare for Disasters (with R. Meyer, Wharton School Press), The Future of Risk Management (with R Meyer and E. Michel-Kerjan, University of Pennsylvania Press), and Mastering Catastrophic Risk: How Companies Are Coping with Disruption (with M. Useem, Oxford University Press).
John Nielsen-Gammon

John William Nielsen-Gammon, Ph.D.

Regents Professor, Texas State Climatologist, Director of the Southern Regional Climate Center

Texas A&M University

John Nielsen-Gammon is Regents Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University. He received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1990 and joined the faculty at Texas A&M in 1991, where he is also a member of the Environmental Programs faculty and the Water Management and Hydrologic Sciences Program faculty. Since 2000, he has served as the Texas State Climatologist, and he is now also the Director of the Southern Regional Climate Center and the Texas Center for Climate Studies. Prof. Nielsen-Gammon’s research interests include synoptic and mesoscale dynamics; monitoring, prediction, and risk assessment of droughts and floods; and air pollution meteorology. He is President-Elect of the American Association of State Climatologists and is co-Chair of the Predictions, Predictability, and Applications Interface Panel for the US CLIVAR program. He was a co-author of the Southern Great Plains Chapter of the Fourth National Climate Assessment and is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.
Julie Shiyou-Woodard

Julie Shiyou-Woodard

President and CEO

Smart Home America

As the President and Chief Executive Officer for Smart Home America, Julie Shiyou-Woodard oversees operations, provides organizational direction, and develops partnerships for a national, not for profit whose mission is to build resilient and sustainable communities. Ms. Shiyou-Woodard has developed and managed environmental and hazard mitigation funding and projects in collaboration with federal, state, and local agencies throughout her career.
Olga Wilhelmi

Olga Wilhelmi, Ph.D.

Research Scientist

National Center for Atmospheric Research

Olga Wilhelmi, Ph.D., is a geographer with twenty years of experience working at the interface of atmospheric and social sciences and GIS. She is the head of the Geographic Information Science (GIS) Program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and is a research scientist in NCAR’s Research Application Laboratory. Her research interests span a wide range of topics in human-environment interactions with the emphasis on environmental health and community resilience to weather hazards and climate change. Olga has published over 65 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and reports addressing societal aspects of weather extremes and climate change, urban heat and human health, drought and water management, and preparedness and response to flash floods and hurricane storm surge. Olga is a recipient of Esri’s Special Achievement in GIS award, as well as the UCAR’s Outstanding Accomplishment Awards for the Scientific Publication, Diversity, and Education and Outreach. She served as Editor of Weather, Climate and Society and as a member of the American Meteorological Society Board on Societal Impacts. Olga’s current work focuses on extreme heat and air quality impacts on human health and the role of geovisualizations in extreme weather risk communication.


TAMEST The Academy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas