University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations
March 19, 2012
Contact: Alice Jackson, USA Public Relations, (251) 460-6639

USA Faculty Development Council Forum
 to be Held March 27-30

Dr. Steven Picou  
Dr. Steven Picou

Faculty and graduate students will showcase their research, scholarly and creative projects at the 19th Annual USA Faculty Development Council Forum, which will feature a speaker as well as book and poster displays March 27-30 in the Mitchell College of Business.

Dr. Steven Picou, professor of sociology, will speak on “Social Science Research and the BP Disaster: What We Have Learned Over the Last Two Years.”
The program will begin at 1 p.m. on March 30 in Room 264 of the Mitchell College of Business. Picou will begin his one-hour presentation at 1:15 p.m.

This presentation will briefly review the events surrounding the largest marine release of oil in the history of North America – the BP Oil Spill. The research response to the spill and the clean-up was unprecedented in the history of disaster research. Over the last two years, a series of qualitative and quantitative social science studies have been published in the peer-reviewed literature. Many of these studies have provided important comparative data to the impacts of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska. This presentation will provide a synthesis of the BP studies relative to the 20 years of research on the long-term social impacts of the Exxon Valdez spill. Commonalities include community disruption, economic loss, suicides, the emergence of secondary disasters, and serious mental health problems. The conclusions argue that restoration activities should not focus solely on the ecology, but must also include community, family and personal restoration interventions well into the future.

Picou is recognized as an international expert in disaster impact on communities based on his years of experience and his long-term involvement in a wide range of  professional studies, including the Exxon Valdez and BP spills as well as Hurricane Katrina.

Picou also served as chair of the department of sociology, anthropology and social work at the University from 1988 to 2008.

His experience includes an appointment as an affiliate scientist at the Prince William Sound Science Center, Cordova, Alaska; adjunct scientist at Cooper River Delta Institute, Cordova, Alaska; research fellow at the Social Science Research Institute of the University of Central Florida, Orlando, Fla.; adjunct scientist at the Social Science Research Center of Mississippi State University, Starkville, Miss.

Over the last 38 years, Picou has published more than 70 articles, 22 book chapters, four books and numerous research monographs in the areas of environmental sociology, disasters, social theory, social stratification, sociology of education, and applied sociology.

Since 1971, Picou has received $2.4 million in extramural funding from such agencies as the National Science Foundation, U.S. Office of Education, Environmental Protection Agency, Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Alabama Center for Estuarine Studies, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Gates Foundation and the Social Science Research Council.

In 2008, Picou received the William Foote Whyte Distinguished Career Award from the American Sociological Association section on Sociological Practice.

He is currently directing a study of community recovery from Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Prior to joining the University faculty, he held academic and research appointments at Ohio State University from 1971 to 1975 and at Texas A&M University from 1975 to 1987.

Picou received a bachelor of science degree in sociology from Southeastern Louisiana University. He earned both his master’s degree and a doctorate in sociology from Louisiana State University.

Prior to Picou’s lecture, Dr. Keith Harrison, associate vice president for academic affairs, dean of the graduate school and chair of the faculty development council, will present certificates of recognition to research students and their major professors. The program will also include recognition of the USA Thesis of the Year.

Following Picou’s lecture, refreshment and dialog with research forum participants will be held at the forum displays in both the upstairs and downstairs lobbies of the Mitchell College of Business.

The forum display is a celebration of the extensive and diverse contributions of all the University’s disciplines. It also gives the public and the University community an opportunity to talk with faculty from across the campus about their work and to learn about the wide range of talent at USA.

Last year, USA faculty generated more than $52.8 million in external contract and grant funding. This allows USA to be involved in a wide range of important issues, including improving science and math education in public schools, making advances in health care, protecting the environment and coastline, and many others.

For more information about the forum, contact DeAnna Cobb at (251) 460-6310, or e-mail


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