New Seed Grant Gets Work Started on Infrastructure Protection, Emergency Response; Fellowships Offered

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Schar School of Policy and Government assistant professor Fengxiu Zhang
Fengxiu Zhang

The Center for Resilient and Sustainable Communities (C-RASC) at George Mason University has awarded a seed grant that will help fund a research proposal entitled Emergency Response Network for Critical Infrastructure Protection Under Extreme Events: Data-Driven Network Approach.

This proposal, authored by Schar School of Policy and Government assistant professor Fengxiu Zhang, who teaches public administration, and Wenying Ji, an assistant professor at Mason’s Volgenau School of Engineering, will examine how public organizations communicate and coordinate under extreme events to minimize disruption and damage to critical infrastructure.

“In this research, we aim to use a big data approach to model and analyze emergency response networks for critical infrastructure protection under extreme events,” said Zhang. “This marks the start of our research collaboration across social and engineering sciences.

“As a requirement of the seed grant, we will use the proposed research to build the foundation for submitting a bigger grant for external funding, now eyeing a few National Science Foundation grants on disasters and resilience.”

Zhang is grateful the proposal was met with enthusiasm by C-RASC.

“The past year under COVID-19 was extraordinarily difficult for newcomers to gain a foothold in a new place, to say nothing of launching new collaborations,” said Zhang, who joined the Schar School in 2020. “I am grateful for the connections forged before COVID-19 that make my deeper engagement with C-RASC possible.”

Become a Member of C-RASC
C-RASC is currently seeking graduate students to serve as fellows for the 2021-22 academic year. Fellows must support C-RASC’s research on community resilience and/or sustainability and have the potential to lead to future research funding. Fellows will also be mentored by an interdisciplinary team of three faculty minimum, at least one of whom will be a member formally affiliated with C-RASC. If interested, and to learn more about C-RASC membership, visit