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J. Choi, Ph.D. selected for as Fellow in NSF Enabling Program

Story by
Trisha Radulovich
Dr. Juyeong Choi

Dr. Juyeong Choi is one of twenty scholars selected as a Fellow for the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded, Enabling Program. The Enabling Next Generation of Hazards and Disasters Researchers Fellowship is a prestigious NSF award that is a stepping stone for junior faculty to become active scholars in their discipline and the broader hazards and disaster research community. 

Choi is an assistant professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and competed with over 180 scholars for the esteemed award.

“I am honored and humbled by this fellowship,” Choi says. “It will be exciting to meet with a community of fellows and have the opportunity to find support and become even more active in this field of study.”

Choi’s research efforts are dedicated to improving community resilience through infrastructure planning. He also wants to identify critical research questions concerning the sustainable management of disaster materials. As a result of workshop study sponsored by NSF he and his other two colleagues, Drs. Sybil Derrible (from University of  Illinois at Chicago) and Nazli Yesiller (from California Polytechnic University), identified the need for the collection of data from disaster sites. 

During Hurricane Michael, which hit Florida in October 2018, the amount of debris left behind was overwhelming. Over 13 million cubic meters of debris and after a year later, crews are still removing the waste. His research group found that the enormous quantities of debris and waste materials in the wake of a disaster can be one of the most significant challenges for communities.  

“My experience with Hurricane Michael exposed me to an important area of disaster research,” Choi says. “How can you create value from all the end-of-life materials generated from a disaster?”

With the support of NSF, Choi’s research group is looking at establishing an extreme event reconnaissance network to respond to disasters with respect to post-disaster debris management, reuse, and recycling.

“Today public officials and planners know little about the types of materials generated during disasters, what they contain, in what proportions and how they can be recycled and reused,” Choi says.” We are also looking at developing new technology approaches that can assist in debris characterization. Reuse and recycling should be a top priority.”

“The fellowship will enable me to meet with leading interdisciplinary hazards and disasters scholars in different geographic locations to receive feedback,” Choi says. “I hope to apply this knowledge to expand my approach to created planning tools not only for hurricane events but also other hazardous events.”

Read Choi's co-authored article about the impact of his research, "Millions of burnt trees and rusted cars: Post-disaster cleanup is expensive, time-consuming and wasteful," on The Conversation US.