IAEM@UD Current Officers, 2020-2021

IAEM@UD holds elections at the end of each academic year and new officers take their positions in the end of the spring semester.

Christopher Tharp – President


Christopher is a doctoral candidate in the department of political science and international relations.  In his dissertation, he asks: “What might sovereignty mean in a place without formal state sovereignty or national self-determination?” He attempts to locate sovereignty in its diversity of articulations by examining the specific postcolonial context of Puerto Rico, theorizing sovereignty as a political-economic process rather than a mere status.  Hurricane Maria exposed poverty, environmental injustice, and differential vulnerability; but since El Verano Boricua mass unrest in 2019, a debate has opened for the need for a left-wing, anti-austerity transformation of the island based on a new politics—the people mobilized against the establishment.  Christopher has presented his research on emergency politics and disaster neoliberalism at domestic and international conferences.  He is affiliated with the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware because of his interdisciplinary focus on disaster governance.  Christopher has studied emergency management through the Delaware Emergency Management Agency.


Logan Gerber-Chavez – Vice President


Logan is a Ph.D. student in the Disaster Science and Management program. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Texas A&M University with a minor in Meteorology and a certificate in Comparative National Governments. There she worked on projects in climatology, environmental policy, and green-roofing technology. Afterward, she took two years off to do volunteer work in the four corners region of the United States, spending time on the Navajo and Ute reservations. She then went on to earn a Masters of Science in Geography from the University of Oklahoma with a thesis entitled, “Effective Disasters: Disasters as a driver of international climate policy change.” Her interests include climatology, climate-related disasters (especially hurricanes), and environmental justice.

Michael Michaud – President


Michael is a Ph.D. student in the Disaster Science and Management program at the University of Delaware. He is also a Graduate Research Assistant with he Disaster Research Center. He has a diverse background with his B.S. degree in Atmospheric Science and M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy. From a young age he had a deep passion for weather. Over time, he began to better appreciate the impact weather has on society. He also spent seven years working within different aspect of higher education, specifically student affairs. Today, his research interests include severe weather warning systems, education initiates around severe weather and disasters, crises in higher education, and finding the best desserts ever made.

Yajaira Ayala – Secretary


​Yajaira is a Ph.D. student in the Disaster Science and Management program. She earned her Master’s degree in Disaster Studies from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley where she also worked as a Research Assistant. During this time she worked at the Department of Health and Biomedical Sciences researching mechanisms to address health and social disparities in vulnerable populations of the US-Mexico border. Yajaira’s educational and research backgrounds have provided her with a rich understanding of the social conditions that exacerbate vulnerability in times of disasters. As she continues her education, her interests still lie in social inequality, vulnerability, and resilience.


Nikki Testa – Undergraduate Representative


Nikki is a senior student in Sociology with a concentration in Emergency and Environmental Management and an Environmental Humanities minor. Nikki is a military veteran and has worked nineteen years as a Firefighter / Emergency Medical Technician at various fire companies throughout New Castle County, DE and Southern Chester County, PA. Nikki currently works for the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) as the Citizen Corps Program Coordinator. Within this position, Nikki teaches Delaware residents how to become more resilient during all-hazard events through such programs as Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training, Community Preparedness Workshops, Stop The Bleed, as well as assists with A.L.I.C.E. training. Nikki is an avid wildland firefighter and has deployed all over the US combating a diverse array of conflagrations since 2001. As an undergraduate student at UD, Nikki has had the opportunity to perform fieldwork as well as work as a research assistant.