Susan Cutter, Ph.D.

Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography and Director of Hazards Research Lab

University of South Carolina






Dr. Susan Cutter is a Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography at the University of South Carolina where she directs the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute.  She received her B.A. from California State University, Hayward and her M.A. and Ph.D. (1976) from the University of Chicago. 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 twelve books, more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters.

Dr. Cutter has also led post-event field studies of the role of geographic information technologies in rescue and relief operations in (September 11th World Trade Center attack) and studies of evacuation behavior from Three Mile Island (1979), Hurricane Floyd (1999), and the Graniteville, SC train derailment and chlorine spill (2005).  Most recently (2006) she has led a Hurricane Katrina post-event field team to examine the geographic extent of storm surge inundation along the Mississippi and Alabama coastline and its relationship to the social vulnerability of communities.  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.  She has authored a Trends and Outlook report for the US Army Corps of Engineers on Natural and Human-Induced Disasters and other Factors Affecting Future Emergency Response and Hazard Management.

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, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).    She also serves on the international Integrated Research on Disaster Risk Science Committee supported by ISSC, ICSU, and UN-ISDR.  Dr. Cutter serves as co-executive editor of Environment and is an associate editor of Weather, Climate, and Society.  She is also 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.”

She is an elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (1999), and past President of the Association of American Geographers (2000).  She is the past President of the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) (2008).  In 2006, Dr. Cutter was the recipient of the Decade of Behavior Research Award given by a multidisciplinary consortium of more than 50 national and international scientific organizations in the social and behavioral sciences. Dr. Cutter holds the MunichRe Foundation Chair (2009-2012) on Social Vulnerability through the United Nations University-Institute for Environment and Human Security, in Bonn, Germany.