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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Renewable Energy

Innovations in renewables, energy storage, and energy mobility continue to emerge from the private sector and labs throughout UC Berkeley and around the world. Disaster Lab aids in the testing, integration, and adoption of world-changing energy technology based on the needs of the end-user that they are designed to serve.

Disaster Lab is currently assessing a novel battery technology,  mobile options for energy generation on the go, and energy monitoring systems needed to build a more resilient power grid.

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Sustainable Development

Disaster Lab recognizes the growing need for housing, construction, and improvements to our infrastructure across California and the world. We believe that this much-needed construction should be done sustainably and be designed to withstand the natural disasters that it will more than likely face one day.

We work with developers, constructors, startups, and researchers to advise and evaluate innovative methods and tools that are changing the way we think about infrastructure.

100506-N-6070S-819 Gulf of Mexico (May 6, 2010) -- Dark clouds of smoke and fire emerge as oil burns during a controlled fire in the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. Coast Guard working in partnership with BP PLC, local residents, and other federal agencies conducted the "in situ burn" to aid in preventing the spread of oil following the April 20 explosion on Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit Deepwater Horizon. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Stumberg/Released)

Pollution and Remediation

Disaster Lab leads environmental remediation and habitat restoration for industrial, residential, agricultural, and coastal sites.

At its core, our goal is to assist, support, and enable the recovery of areas that have been degraded, damaged, or destroyed due to natural or man-made disasters, ultimately, preventing further pollution and degradation of our environment. Disaster Lab does this work in collaboration with researchers, governments, and innovative technology companies focused on this space.

Portrait of Dr. Thomas Azwell

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.

Lab Manager for Disaster Lab:

Sukh Singh

Sukh leads the demonstration and independent evaluation of tech-related to the detection, mitigation, and remediation of disasters. He also manages Innovation Challenges - opportunities for student teams to tackle technology gaps identified by first responders with mentorship from industry partners for the lab.

Sukh is also on the development team for the FIRE Foundry, a workforce development program built in collaboration with Marin County and Marin Fire Department focused on bringing underrepresented groups into fire service careers. At FIRE Foundry, he has the pleasure of preparing the next generation of firefighters and creating opportunities for them to master state-of-the-art tools and technology that will be integral as they ascend in their careers.

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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

Michael is faculty in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Cal. He leads the Fire Research Lab where his team tackles an array of problems having to do with fire science and combustion.

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Alasdair Cohen Ph.D

Alasdair is faculty in the Environmental & Water Resources Engineering Program at Virginia Tech, and serves as Research Director for the Berkeley/China/Virginia Tech Program for Water & Health.

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Ritwik Gupta

Ritwik serves as Principal AI Scientist at the Defense Innovation Unit where his research is focused on efficient machine learning for humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

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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.


Disaster Lab also works with talented UC Berkeley students to facilitate the creative processes and innovations happening within the lab.

Esther Shin Headshot

Esther Shin

Esther is a Senior studying EECS & Design Innovation at UC Berkeley, and serves as the Digital Assets and Communication Coordinator at Disaster Lab.

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