Meet the Researcher - Patricia McKee

Breakout Room: 26

PatriciaMcKeeHeadShotResearcher Name: Patricia McKee
Title of Research: Addressing Remote Communities' Disaster Response Information Needs: Examples from Hatteras and Ocracoke, North Carolina
Division Representing: Social Sciences
Institution: North Carolina State University
Institution Location: North Carolina
Home State: North Carolina
District Number: 2
Advisor/Mentor: Whitney Knollenberg, Virginia Patterson, Erin Seekamp
Funding Source: National Science Foundation Award: Humans, Disasters, & Built Environments

Research Experience:  
I am an active member of NC State University's Student Conduct Board, which affords students the opportunity to have their cases (e.g., plagiarism, alcohol violations) heard by a committee of their peers. My work with the Student Conduct Board includes hearing cases, educating students on university policies, and interviewing prospective members. I am also active with my university's chapter of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority as the Executive Assistant, an administrative Cabinet position. As the Executive Assistant, I have facilitated the transition of all sorority functions to an online format during the coronavirus pandemic. In my college, I am the treasurer and an advisory board member for the Engaging Leaders Program, which aims to instruct students on professional development practices and diversity and inclusion in the workplace. As the treasurer, I develop annual budgets that reflect all program expenditures. My responsibilities as an advisory board member include assisting in the reconstruction of this Program after the arrival of a new Dean. I also organize weekly meetings and retreats for participants that focus on specific skills, such as email etiquette and money management. In addition to these roles, I also served as the project manager for an outreach program that connected various campus organizations with residents at a nursing home. Recently, I also served as an ambassador for the Greensboro Symphony Guild via its debutante program, which seeks to support local music education programs.

Presentation Experience: 
During the research process I have presented my current findings to the PI's and co-researchers on my team. My prior experience presenting in academic forums includes participation in a local research showcase at my high school for the International Baccalaureate magnet program. My research studied potassium levels in intercity reservoirs and fluctuations in that nutrient correlated to the growth of an invasive aquatic plant species. I presented my findings to the faculty at my school and submitted that information to the International Baccalaureate headquarters for their review. In college, I have participated in several small-scale projects that aimed to improve campus sustainability. One project sought to improve campus waste management systems by modeling them after county prototypes. My research for this project involved collaborating with numerous community partners and culminated in my delivery of research findings to University Housing representatives. In addition to the staff from University Housing, I also presented this research to several student clubs and organizations. As this will be my first opportunity to present my research on how the media influences coastal communities, I am excited to give a voice in this conference to an underrepresented yet crucial component of my state's economy.

Significance of Research:       
Remote coastal communities in the Southeastern United States face many challenges related to hurricanes which are currently, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. The communities' remoteness and heightened vulnerability to climate change make it crucial for them to have access to reliable information that communicates disaster preparation and recovery policies. This study aims to identify the level to which local media (e.g. print and online news services) communicates disaster preparation and recovery policies in Ocracoke and Hatteras, NC. It also identifies the extent to which stakeholders used local media as a recovery information resource in the wake of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic.The data for this study were collected from two sources: 1) a series of Boolean searches within local sources (e.g. The Ocracoke Observer) and national sources (e.g. The New York Times), generated 200 articles for thematic analysis which revealed the types of information communicated and 2) 48 structured interviews with community stakeholders in both Ocracoke and Hatteras (e.g. business owners, residents, community leaders) that assessed which information sources they used in post-disaster recovery decision-making. Synthesis of the article and interview data revealed that local media covers themes related to county resources, state and federal aid, and disaster preparation, and is perceived to be a primary information source for non-resident property owners and those outside of the community. Findings have implications for future dissemination of disaster preparedness and recovery policies and strategies.

Uniqueness of Research: 
This work advances the social science discipline by examining the role of local media sources in informing disaster recovery decisions in remote communities. It demonstrates the value of applying mixed methods in assessing how communities recover from both natural disasters (e.g. Hurricane Dorian) and global health pandemics (e.g. COVID 19).