USF World News

A Grad Finale
May 3, 2011

USF senior Derek Hayward will be graduating in two weeks and there is no doubt, he has made his mark at USF. Winning first place in the Social Sciences category at the Undergraduate Research Symposium on April 15th, 2011 Derek’s research contributes to the understanding and prevention of earthquakes worldwide.

Triple majoring in Political Science, Criminology and History, Derek’s poster presentation at the symposium looked at earthquake mitigation and preparation in Haiti, El Salvador, Chile, Algeria, China and Japan within the last decade. When asked why the interest in earthquake disaster management, Derek says he’s always been drawn to disasters. “I’ve lived in Florida for a while and have always had fun evacuating for hurricanes. I studied it on the side and I like to know how to deal with it. I wanted to study something different.”

He explains how the unpredictability of earthquakes is what led him to studying them. The degree of preparation that earthquakes require is much higher than that of hurricanes making the need for awareness just as significant. “It’s nice to know that we can prevent another Haiti,” says Derek. He adds saying people don’t readily believe that the same disaster in Haiti or Japan could very well take place at any other fault line because of which awareness plays an important role in preventing damage or loss of life.

When asked how he gathered his information, he explains that in some areas studies done by pervious scholars on related subjects provided him with a great deal of literature to review while the USF library proved to be an excellent resource for primary sources, something he wasn’t aware of prior to conducting his study. As for a country like Japan, he says, acquiring data was easy since the country is the leader in earthquake preparation and mitigation.

The detail in his research shows how small tremors occur all over the world, including in the United States on a daily basis. In the light of recent events across the world, his research only amplifies the need to revisit preparation methods.

Grateful to his academic advisor, Dr. Kiki Caruson, Derek says he could never have pursued his research interest without her help. “I was very proud,” he says on receiving the prestigious symposium award. A student in the Honor’s College, Derek’s thesis is based on the same subject, which he is looking to publish in a disaster management journal.

As for higher education, Derek will be going to Indiana University to pursue a master’s in Criminal Justice and Public Safety where he will be fully funded for his services as a Graduate Assistant. Apart from winning awards and making international research contributions, Derek currently works at a day treatment center working with at-risk youth teaching anger management and ensuring that court ordered sanctions are carried out, among other responsibilities.

Photo by Aimee Blodgett