PREP Graduate Research Associate - NIST Hurricane Maria Program


September 12, 2023

This position is part of the National Institute of Standards (NIST) Professional Research Experience (PREP) program. NIST recognizes that its research staff may wish to collaborate with researchers at academic institutions on specific projects of mutual interest, thus requires that such institutions must be the recipient of a PREP award. The PREP program requires staff from a wide range of backgrounds to work on scientific research in many areas. Employees in this position will perform technical work that underpins the scientific research of the collaboration.

The PREP participant will collaborate with NIST Hurricane Maria Program researchers on a recovery-focused study conducted under the authority of the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP).  The participant will be contributing to the NWIRP Study of Hurricane Maria’s Impacts and Recovery in Puerto Rico that focuses on the recovery of infrastructure systems, and of schools and hospitals. The objective of the Recovery of Infrastructure project is to study power, water, transportation, and wireless communications infrastructure impacts, recovery, and decision-making, to make recommendations for increasing resilience through changes to codes, standards, and practice. The objective of the Recovery of Social Functions project is to identify the underlying characteristics and conditions associated with recovery of critical social functions from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and to examine the recovery trajectories of schools and hospitals. This project also includes investigation of the interdependencies of the broader community (e.g., households, businesses) and the social functions provided by schools and hospitals. More information on these and the other NIST Hurricane Maria projects is available at

The PREP participant primarily will conduct analysis on the data being collected in the infrastructure, social functions, and business and supply chain projects.  The interview and survey data spans diverse topics.  For infrastructure, data collection is via semi-structured interviews with operators of Puerto Rico’s power, water, and transportation systems at headquarter, regional, and local levels.  Questions pertain to the loss and recovery of service to critical buildings, impediments to system recovery, and actions taken to increase system resilience to future hurricanes.  For schools, data is being collected through surveys and interviews of K-12 schools and hospitals in Puerto Rico. The surveys are focused on the physical and nonphysical impacts of the hurricane, the recovery of services, the timing and receipt of disaster assistance resources, and other resources available to the school or hospital that may have impacted recovery (such as staffing, leadership, budget, planning and preparedness activities). The interviews expand on these topics with exploration of the decision making as well as internal and external processes and policies that enhanced or complicated recovery. Finally, for business and supply chain, data is being collected through both surveys of business owners/managers and interviews with supply chain operators. These data will provide in-depth data on the impacts and recovery process for businesses and supply chain in Puerto Rico.  

The work will entail:

  • Supporting development of codebook to guide the qualitative analysis.
  • Qualitative data coding and analysis of transcripts to open-ended survey and interview questions.
  • Statistical analysis of quantitative data from surveys or interviews.

Key responsibilities will include but are not limited to:

  • Analyzing qualitative and quantitative data.
  • Applying a codebook to the interview data of various projects.
  • Writing reports detailing the methodology and results.
  • Engaging with other NIST Hurricane Maria investigators and research team as necessary.
  • Ensuring that results and documentation have been archived or otherwise transmitted to the larger organization.


  • MA or MS student in a social science discipline (anthropology, sociology, geography), public health, or a related field with social science methods coursework.
  • 1 year of relevant experience in conducting research.
  • Experience with qualitative coding software (e.g., Atlas. ti, NVivo) and quantitative analysis software (e.g., R, SAS, SPSS, Stata).
  • Required expertise includes social science methodologies – both quantitative and qualitative.
  • Ability to work with data of diverse subjects.
  • Strong oral and written communication skills.
  • Experience with interdisciplinary research preferred.

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