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At the Scientific Frontier

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    The mission of the Risk and Decision Science Team is to improve the quality of decision making by researching and developing risk and decision science methods and applying risk and decision techniques to real world problems in the fields of public safety, security, and the environment. We provide approaches for structuring and conducting risk assessment, stakeholder engagement, resource prioritization, planning and other emerging issues analysis relevant to the USACE, Army, and Nation. We develop adaptive methods and models for describing relevant risks along with decision analysis techniques to compare and guide the selection of risk management alternatives.

    We can perform advanced risk assessments, including comparative risk assessments and uncertainty analyses, with a recent shift towards integrated decision analysis and adaptive management. Over the last two years, ERDC has become a leader in the field within the US Government as evidenced by an increased number of requests for ERDC support from other agencies, such as EPA, DOI, DHS, DTRA, DOS and DHHS. Specific achievements include multiple site-specific risk assessments, management of dredged materials, life cycle analysis, stakeholder engagement, adaptive management, risk communication, project portfolio prioritization.


    • Risk analysis – assessment and management of risks using quantitative and qualitative approaches.
      • Weight-of-Evidence Evaluation in Environmental Management: Review of Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches, by Linkov et al. Science of the Total Environment. 407: 5201-5207 (2009).
      • Comparative Risk Assessment and Environmental Decision Making, by Linkov and Ramadan. Kluwer, Amsterdam, 436p (2004).
      • Assessment and Management of Environmental Risks, by Linkov and Palma-Oliveira. Kluwer, Amsterdam, 460p (2001).
    • Uncertainty analysis in complex systems – holistic methods for uncertainty analysis of complex models, including Monte-Carlo, Bayesian Networks, and System Analysis.
      • Do Tropical Cyclones Shape Shorebird Patterns? Biogeoclimatology of Snowy Plovers in Florida, by Convertino et al. PLoS One (2010).
      • Site-Specific Applications of Probabilistic Health Risk Assessment: Review of the Literature since 2000, by Lester et al. Risk Analysis 27:635-658 (2007).
      • Predicting physical properties of emerging compounds with Limited Physical and Chemical Data: QSAR Model Uncertainty and Applicability to Military Munitions, by Bennett et al. Chemosphere 77:1412-1418 (2009).
    • Decision analysis – structured methods of analysis that bridge science and decision making while incorporating information about uncertainty and conflicting objectives.
      • Emergent Conditions and Multiple Criteria Analysis for Infrastructure Prioritization: Methodology and Application in Developing Countries, by Karvetski et al. Journal of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis 16:125-137 (2009).
      • A Stochastic Multicriteria-based Methodology for Prioritising Alternatives in Sediment Management, by Alvarez-Guerra et al. Science of the Total Environment 20: 4354-4367 (2010).
      • Typological Review of Environmental Performance Metrics (with Illustrative Examples for Oil Spill Response), by Seager et al. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management. 3:310-321 (2007) .
    • Cognitive science - new methods and algorithms for mapping perceptions of risk for comprehensive risk management.
      • Cognitive Barriers In Flood Risk Perception And Management: A Mental Modeling Framework, by Wood et al. Risk Analysis (2010, submitted).
      • Cognitive Mapping Tools: Review and Risk Management Needs, by Wood et al. Risk Analysis (2010, submitted).
    • Decision fusion - integrating technical information and expert judgment in emerging areas.
      • Risk-based Classification System of Nanomaterials, by Tervonen et al. J. of Nanoparticle Research 11:757-766 (2009).
      • Real Time and Deliberative Decision Making, by Linkov et al. Springer, Amsterdam (2008).
    • Adaptive management and Value of Information - quantitative framework for integrating new information, monitoring plans, and evolving social/political values to advance current practice.
      • From Comparative Risk Assessment to Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis and Adaptive Management: Recent Developments and Applications, by Linkov et al. Environment International 32: 1072-1093 (2006).
      • From Optimization to Adaptation: Shifting Paradigms in Environmental Management and Their Application to Remedial Decisions, by Linkov et al. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 2:92-98 (2006).
    • Life Cycle analysis - methodologies for assessing environmental impact of emerging materials and technologies at different life cycles.
      • Coupling Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis and Life Cycle Assessment For Nanomaterials, by Seager and Linkov. J. of Industrial Ecology 12:282-285 (2008).
      • Managing Critical Infrastructure Risks: Decision Tools and Applications for Port Security, by Linkov et al. Springer, Amsterdam (2007).
    • Prioritization - focusing investment in new research and information acquisition based on evaluation of its impact on ultimate management decisions.
      • Selecting Nonmanufacturing Technology using Integrated Risk, Life Cycle Assessment and Decision-Analytical Framework, by Canis et al. Environmental Science and Technology (2010, in press).
      • Managing a Portfolio of Risks, by Keisler and Linkov. In: Wiley Encyclopedia of Operations Research and Management Science. Volume on Risk Analysis, (2010, in press).

    The environmental risk assessment and decision analysis tools developed at ERDC provide the means to characterize and describe the risk posed by contaminants to human health and the environment and make informed decisions involving multiple criteria. The guidance, databases, and models developed will reduce our dependence on uncertainty factors and increase our ability to make objective determinations and better decisions about the environmental risks posed by contaminants.


    Updated June 2011
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