Understanding the Human Story

Carolina Ph.D. candidate researches why people live in disaster-prone regions.

Sarah Torgeson smiling

Carolina Ph.D. candidate researches why people live in disaster-prone regions.

When Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi’s Gulf Coast in 2005, Sarah Torgeson, then 13 years old, evacuated her hometown of Waveland. Upon return after the storm, she described her hometown as a dead zone. She watched as her 71-year-old grandfather navigated the hurricane and began to wonder about aging adults and their systems of support during environmental disasters.

Now, as a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of American Studies at Carolina, she’s researching why people live in disaster-prone regions and how they plan for future disasters based on their experiences.

“I realized I could use history to explore this topic that meant a lot to me and our family and how useful history was for understanding where we are now,” Torgeson said.

Torgeson is a recipient of the Chatterjee Family Summer Research Fellowship, which allows her to conduct digital archival research this summer. Specifically, she’s reviewing archives, such as oral histories and federal hearings following Hurricane Katrina, to explore topics and to prepare her for future community-based research. She said the fellowship has given her much-needed time to focus more in depth on her research.

“Storytelling can be a part of community life,” Torgeson said. “With disasters, we often get stuck on statistics and numbers, and I think the human story is really important.”

Read the complete Carolina Story…Opens in new window


The Graduate School Funding Priorities

Readers Also Viewed...

Portrait photo of Courtney Chaaban
Student Support

Analyzing Adolescent ACLs

Summer Research Fellowship allows doctoral candidate to work with teens on ACL injuries

A portrait of John Wadden

Empowering clinical psychology graduate students

Two new awards will support and recognize graduate students’ research

A side-by-side image showing Carroll as a burgeoning chemist researcher and in the present day

A Life Prioritizing Education

Frank Ivy Carroll claims his greatest achievement was dedication to education and students

Portrait of Bramwell sitting on a bench smiling
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Reshaping Pieces of History

Collaborating with museums as they engage in social justice work by re-examining the past

Graeme smiling

The Gift of Mentorship

An opportunity to mentor the next generation of political scientists

A yellow, gray and blue banner reading

2022 Impact Award Recipients

Leading research and discovery in North Carolina