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IBS Associations

Director, Natural Hazards Center

Environment and Society Program

Population Program

CU Population Center

Research Interests

Hazards, Disasters, Children and Youth, School Safety, Marginalized Populations, Qualitative Methods, Interdisciplinary Methods, Convergence Research

Brief Biography

Lori Peek is director of the Natural Hazards Center and professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is recipient of the Fred Buttel Distinguished Contribution Award for Environmental Sociology. She wrote the award-winning book Behind the Backlash: Muslim Americans after 9/11, co-edited Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora and the Handbook of Environmental Sociology, and co-authored Children of Katrina and The Continuing Storm. Peek also helped develop and write school safety guidance for the nation, which resulted in the publication of FEMA P-1000, Safer, Stronger, Smarter: A Guide to Improving School Natural Hazard Safety. In 2021, she was nominated by President Joseph Biden and approved by the U.S. Senate to serve on the Board of the National Institute of Building Sciences.

Peek’s research is funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, Andrew A. Mellon Foundation, and Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies. She has conducted field investigations in the aftermath of several major disasters and recently testified before members of the U.S. Congress on the topic of Ensuring Equity in Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery. Peek is the principal investigator for the NSF-funded CONVERGE facility, which is dedicated to improving research coordination and advancing the ethical conduct and scientific rigor of disaster research. She also leads the NSF-supported Social Science Extreme Events Research (SSEER) and Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Extreme Events Research (ISEEER) networks. Peek is co-principal investigator for an NSF-effort focused on advancing interdisciplinary methods and approaches for hazards and disaster research. She is also co-leading a U.S. Geological Survey funded project on earthquake early warning systems in schools, and she is principal investigator for a recently funded project on reducing social vulnerability to disasters.

Her work has appeared in a variety of scholarly outlets including Nature, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Child Development, Sociological Inquiry, Qualitative Research, and Disasters, among others. In 2021, she and Mithra Moezzi received the Best Paper Award from Risk Analysis. In 2016, Peek received honorable mention for the Leo Goodman Award for Outstanding Contributions to Sociological Methodology from the American Sociological Association Section on Methodology. And in 2009, the American Sociological Association Section on Children and Youth honored her with the Early Career Award for Outstanding Scholarship.

In addition to the recognition for her scholarship, Peek has received nearly a dozen awards for her teaching and mentoring. Notably, she received the 2016 Board of Governor’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, which is the highest teaching honor bestowed at her former institution, Colorado State University. Peek regularly works with graduate and undergraduate research and teaching assistants, and has mentored numerous postdoctoral scholars and doctoral, master’s, and undergraduate advisees throughout her career. She was recognized with the Outstanding Postdoctoral Mentor Award at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2019. Peek regularly teaches a 400-student large lecture Introduction to Sociology class.

Peek is the past President of the Research Committee on Disasters for the International Sociological Association and is past Chair of the American Sociological Association Section on Environmental Sociology. She served as co-PI for the NSF INCLUDES Minority SURGE Capacity in Disasters project, and is a Board Member for the William Averette Anderson Fund; both initiatives are dedicated to increasing the number of people of color in hazards and disaster research and practice. She served as an appointed member of the National Academies Resilience Roundtable, a member of the oversight committee for the Mitigation Saves 2.0 study, and a federally-appointed member of the Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction (ACEHR) for the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP).

Peek earned her B.A. in Sociology from Ottawa University in her home state of Kansas, M.Ed from Colorado State University, and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Colorado Boulder. She was a research assistant at the Natural Hazards Center from 1999-2005, and a faculty member in Sociology at Colorado State University from 2005-2016. She returned to the University of Colorado Boulder in 2017.