Views and Visions: Posts from our People

Jul
20

Daniel Smith at Science at the Shine Dome event in Canberra.

Daniel Smith at Science at the Shine Dome event in Canberra.
Daniel Smith at Science at the Shine Dome event in Canberra.

Multi-disciplinary approaches to natural hazards science unpacked

Science at the Shine Dome is the flagship event of the Australian Academy of Science. Each year, the three-day event celebrates some of the ground breaking science that is happening across the country. I was privileged to be supported by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC to attend the event along with Dr Rachael Quill. After an itinerary full of opportunities to hear from and speak to Australia’s top scientists, I wanted to share one of my key takeaways.

The symposium was entitled ‘Predict, respond, recover: science and natural disasters’, a topic particularly relevant to me both as a Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC researcher, and an Advance Queensland fellow studying the effects of severe wind events on homes and investigating how best to assist homeowners in preventing damages. As a structural engineer, it's often tempting to tackle the issue with the mindset that we should build concrete bunkers for homes, then there will be no damage. From a practical standpoint this would never work because homes are made for people that have many competing needs and priorities (beyond cyclone mitigation investments) that play an important role in deciding how best to protect their home and family. Therefore, when tackling tough research issues like natural disasters it’s important to think multi-disciplined, considering the engineering and social sciences in tandem to develop effective solutions.

I was pleased to see researchers at the Shine Dome showing leadership in multi-disciplinary problem solving. One of the best talks in my opinion, was given by Sue Barrel from the Bureau of Meteorology. She discussed the wide range of science and research products the BOM produces but emphasised that understanding the social science and communication aspects of the work is critical to providing service to the Australian community. I hope that we continue to see this ideal present in state of the art research and I look forward to contributing with my own work where possible. Thanks again to the CRC and Australian Academy of Science for making the experience possible.

Read about Dr Rachael Quill's experiences here.

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