GW Engineering Professor Named Fulbright Scholar

Joost Santos aims to enhance disaster risk management in the Philippines, a country that has been hit hard by COVID-19 and typhoons in recent years.

Joost Santos
Joost Santos, associate professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, studies the intersection of systems engineering, disaster risk analysis and economics.
April 23, 2021

By Kristen Mitchell

Joost Santos, associate professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, has been named a Fulbright Scholar. He will travel to the Philippines next year to develop infrastructure and economic resilience models for enhancing disaster risk management.

“Just to be part of this group of people, that's a big honor,” he said. 

The Fulbright Program offers international educational and cultural exchange programs for students, scholars, artists, teachers and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach or pursue important research and professional projects. The program is led by the United States government in partnership with more than 160 countries worldwide.

Dr. Santos is a faculty member in the Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering. His research interests lie at the intersection of systems engineering, disaster risk analysis and economics. Dr. Santos has spent the last several years developing an economic input-output model to capture a macroeconomic view of the interconnections between economic sectors, which represent the nodes in the network. He uses this model to study the ripple effects caused by natural disasters like hurricanes or manmade disasters like cyber attacks on banking systems. 

“My model is able to pinpoint critical nodes in the network,” he said. “I could use the model to tell which nodes are more critical than others, so that in risk management, disaster management and policy making, we could prioritize our limited resources to safeguarding those more critical nodes.”

Natural and manmade disasters both have significant impacts across economic sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, service and education. The Philippines has been hit with a series of devastating typhoons in recent years, and has faced one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Asia—a challenge that directly impacts every aspect of the economy. 

Dr. Santos’ research seeks to identify and prioritize sectors based on how critical they are to the disaster at hand. While emergency medical capabilities don’t contribute significantly to gross domestic product, hospitals should be prioritized as a critical sector in the face of many disasters to promote an optimal allocation of resources.

Dr. Santos plans to develop a special topics course and pursue collaborative research initiatives with his partner institution De La Salle University, based in Manila, Philippines.

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