Supporting the Development & Dissemination of Environmental Innovation

Disaster Lab partners with researchers, local governments, and industry experts to demonstrate, evaluate, and report on technology that relates to disasters. In addition, we facilitate Innovation Challenges based on technology gaps identified by environmental experts to give Cal students the opportunity to innovate and change how the world handles crisis.

Supported By

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Evaluating Technology

Disaster Lab is designed to carry out scientific and transparent demonstrations and evaluations of emerging science and technology innovations with active first responders , researchers, and industry experts. The goal of these evaluation program is to provide first responders an introduction to emerging technologies, the dissemination of results of independent evaluations, to create access and critical feedback from end users to technology startups, and to establish the efficacy and limitations of emerging technologies to advance disaster prevention, detection, and mitigation.

Disaster X-Labs

Disaster Lab facilitates X-Lab innovation challenges where UC Berkeley undergraduate and graduate students ideate solutions to key problems identified by first responders in regards to home hardening, defensible space, early detection, and rapid response in order to spur innovation in the disaster technology space. X-Lab challenges are facilitated by researchers, industry experts, and senior fire personnel.

Winning teams receive financial support, mentorship, and opportunities to work with first responders and industry experts in order to collect feedback and improve upon the prototypes of their technology.

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Disaster Lab is led by:

Dr. Thomas Azwell

Dr. Azwell Thomas is a strong research professional with a Masters in Science Education and a Doctorate in Environmental Science from the University of California, Berkeley.  He is skilled in corporate sustainability, technology innovation and entrepreneurship, environmental remediation and restoration.

Dr. Azwell's work gives Cal students, researchers, and faculty the opportunity to collaborate with industry experts to ideate and innovate new technical solutions to solving some of the world's most pressing environmental problems.

Research Affiliates

Disaster Lab works with the world’s leading researchers, faculty, and labs in order to prepare independent evaluations for various technologies having to do with disaster detection, tracking, mediation, and response.

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Michael Gollner Ph.D

Assistant Professor and Deb Faculty Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley

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Ritwik Gupta

Research is focused on efficient machine learning for humanitarian assistance and disaster response, and the policy surrounding the use of ML in developing areas.  Ritwik serves as Principal AI Scientist as the Defense Innovation Unit and was previously a Research Scientist at Carnegie Mellon University where he researched at the intersection of computer vision and HADR.

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Van Butsic Ph.D

Studies how people make land use decisions; how these decisions are impacted by policy; and how these decisions change the environment

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Alice Agogino Ph.D

Mechanical Engineer, Product Design Concentration Founder, and Head Advisor, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley

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