Doctoral student and faculty opportunities with Virginia Tech’s Disaster Resilience and Risk Management Program (DRRM)

From: Disaster Resilience and Risk Management graduate education program / Coastal@VT

In Fall 2018, Virginia Tech initiated an interdisciplinary doctoral education program in Disaster Resilience and Risk Management (DRRM) with financial support from the National Science Foundation and under the auspices of Coastal@VT. We are pleased to invite student-faculty pairs from anywhere on campus to apply to the program.

Specifically, the DRRM Core Faculty wish to expand the student and faculty cohort to broaden the interdisciplinarity, and thus the transdisciplinary potential, of the program. DRRM Faculty benefit from interaction with other faculty across campus with the shared goal of enhancing the wellbeing of communities in Virginia and beyond. In addition to offering funding opportunities for doctoral students, the DRRM Program aims to foster interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary disaster resilience research through faculty team-building (leading to new research collaborations), joint graduate student education, and stakeholder engagement. Students will have the opportunity to become part of an interdisciplinary community of scholars who provide a network of support both during their time at VT and beyond; they will also benefit from the professional development opportunities the program provides to support skills in communication and collaboration within and across disciplines. As a DRRM Faculty, you are welcome to participate in any part of the DRRM program, including biennial Stakeholder Engagement Workshops. 

The DRRM website details the full program and the doctoral DRRM Scholar program is introduced below.

Overview of  DRRM Scholar Program

The doctoral program in DRRM promotes collaboration among experts across a wide range of different disciplines through a transdisciplinary experience designed to train business analysts, educators, engineers, scientists, and urban planners to help better prepare for, respond to, and recover from the devastating natural disasters that now regularly ravage communities and ecosystems across the globe. The program brings together faculty and students across campus to develop modes of thinking and problem solving that take us beyond outdated approaches based exclusively/solely on the perspective of a single discipline. DRRM doctoral scholars and faculty advisors will engage in hands-on work with researchers, community members, and government agencies to develop proactive solutions grounded in the needs of local communities. 

The DRRM Scholar Program offers:

  • DRRM Fellowships for doctoral studies (open to new doctoral students and to current doctoral students in their first year): (a) National Science Foundation (NSF) DRRM Fellowship: US citizenship required, and (b) Virginia Tech Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program (IGEP) Fellowship: Open to all students. DRRM Scholars awarded DRRM Fellowships are offered two years of funding, comprised of one year supported on the Fellowship and one year supported using DRRM Faculty Departmental, College, or other resources. DRRM Scholars may re-apply to be considered for an additional two years of support. All applicants must be nominated by a faculty advisor.
  • DRRM Graduate Certificate: All DRRM Scholars earn this certificate as part of the required program coursework. The graduate certificate is also available to other graduate students and professionals who would like to strengthen their disaster resilience and risk management credentials.
  • Student Internships: All DRRM Scholars are eligible to apply for and complete an internship as a required part of their program.
  • Student travel grants: All DRRM Scholars are eligible to apply for funding to support DRRM-related travel (e.g. to conferences or research sites).
  • Ongoing professional development workshops on communication, collaboration, and related skills.


DRRM Scholar commitments

Students admitted into the DRRM Graduate Education Program commit to participating in all facets of the program from the semester of admittance until graduation, including the following:

  • Completing the DRRM Curriculum (includes participation through graduation)
  • Completing the DRRM Graduate Certificate 
  • Having a DRRM Faculty member as their academic advisor
  • Including at least two DRRM Faculty members, one of which is from a different department, as dissertation or thesis committee members
  • Engaging in at least one DRRM Stakeholder Workshop
  • Engaging in DRRM Mentoring activities
  • Engaging in at least one DRRM Community of Practice Workshop


DRRM Faculty commitments

DRRM Faculty are welcome to participate in any DRRM Program element. At a minimum, the DRRM Faculty who advise a DRRM Scholar commits to serving as the DRRM Scholar’s academic advisor, participating in DRRM Student Mentoring activities, and enriching the DRRM Program through participation in at least one of the following DRRM Program elements:


  • Leading a discussion in the team-taught course GRAD 5134: Interdisciplinary Study: Principles of Disaster Risk Management
  • Leading a discussion in one of the DRRM Transdisciplinary Thinking Seminars
  • Participating in one DRRM Community of Practice Workshop


DRRM Scholars who receive DRRM Fellowships are guaranteed support for two years, where the DRRM Faculty advisor commits to fully supporting the Scholar during their first year on traditional Graduate Assistantships provided by their home Department and/or College, or on other scholarships or fellowships. The DRRM Fellowship supports the Scholar during their second year.

If you are interested in becoming a DRRM Faculty and nominating a student for a DRRM Fellowship, or if you have any other questions, please contact Aaron Akers at