University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations
June 6 , 2008
Contact: Alice Jackson, Office of Public Relations, (251) 460-6639, (228) 209-6920
USA Sociologist Honored for Work with Disaster Victims, Communities
Stephen Picou
Dr. J. Steven Picou

A nationally-recognized sociologist at the University of South Alabama will be honored by the American Sociological Association for his numerous studies of how environmental disasters impact communities.

Dr. J. Steven Picou, professor and former chair of the department of sociology, anthropology and social work, will receive the 2008 William Foote Whyte Distinguished Career Award from the association’s Sociological Practice Section on Aug. 3 during a reception in Boston. In naming Picou, the ASA cited his enormous contributions for consistently using sociological knowledge to improve the lives of others while contributing greatly to the discipline of sociology and to various people and their communities.

Picou is known for his research and design of intervention strategies for community recovery from long-term psychosocial impacts of the “Exxon Valdez” disaster in Prince William Sound, Alaska, in 1989.


“The William F. Whyte Award is one of the most distinguished honors a sociologist can receive. It is given by our national professional organization, the American Sociological Association, and only one recipient is named annually,” said Dr. G. David Johnson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at USA. “Sociologists from throughout the world are eligible, but only one is selected. The Whyte award is given in recognition of career accomplishments in the application of sociological theory and methods toward the amelioration of social problems. Congratulations to Dr. Picou for receiving such a wonderful, and well deserved, honor.”

In 2007, the prestigious Rockefeller Foundation selected Picou as recipient of a $125,750 grant to assess and develop recovery methods for Mississippi and Louisiana residents stricken by Hurricane Katrina. He is also a contributor and co-editor of the book, “The Sociology of Katrina: Perspectives on a Modern Catastrophe,” which looks at how the greatest natural disaster in U.S. history requires a paradigm shift in disaster research and a reorientation and redirection of important research themes throughout the broader discipline of sociology.

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