Rachel Dowty Beech, Ph.D.

Rachel Dowty Beech Image
Assistant Professor
Coordinator Online
Emergency Management Program

Department of Fire Science
Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice & Forensic Sciences


Ph.D. Science and Technology Studies (STS), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

M.S. Wetland Restoration Biology, Southeastern Louisiana University

B.S. Biology, Southeastern Louisiana University

About Rachel

Dr. Rachel Dowty Beech received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in biology studying environmental and wetland restoration, and conducted research on oil spill bioremediation in freshwater marshes. Always integrating different disciplinary approaches to solving problems, she taught a diverse array of college courses at Southeastern Louisiana University, the State University of New York (SUNY) at Plattsburgh, and Clinton Community College. Her interdisciplinary interests led her to earn her Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies (STS) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Her doctoral work applied sociological, political, and anthropological methods to study scientists and technologists functioning in normal versus crisis situations. She completed a post-doc funded by the National Science Foundation studying the interaction of organizational cultures responding to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

She is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters addressing political, economic, and sociocultural aspects of disasters and crises. She co-edited the book, Dynamics of Disaster: Lessons on Risk, Response and Recovery (Earthscan, 2011) with Barbara Allen (Virginia Tech) and co-authored Cultural Anthro (Wadsworth, 2014), an introductory cultural anthropology textbook , and Cultural Anthropology: A Problem Based Approach (Wadsworth, 2016), both with Richard Robbins (SUNY Plattsburgh). She was the Director of the Disaster Science and Management (DSM) degree program at Louisiana State University for six years, where she advised all DSM concentration and minor students, served on the graduate committees of all students earning a graduate minor in DSM, oversaw DSM program curriculum, assessment, and evaluation, served as faculty sponsor of the DSM student organization, and taught DSM courses. She is now a Visiting Assistant Professor in the University of New Haven’s Department of Fire Science’s online Emergency Management program.

Research Interests

I am interested in how environmental, social, and cultural factors shape disasters and the field of emergency management. Planning, mitigation, response and recovery from disasters require a complex array of decision-making that is incumbent upon individuals, small groups, organizations, and governments. Specific areas of interest include cross-cultural emergency management and education, organizational culture, communication and coordination, how expectations and justifications shape decision-making in disasters, and environmental disasters involving petrochemicals.

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Selected Publications

Robbins, Richard H. and Rachel A. Dowty. 2016. Cultural Anthropology: A Problem-Based Approach. Sixth edition. San Francisco, CA: Cengage Learning.

Robbins, Richard H. and Rachel A. Dowty. 2013. Cultural Anthro. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. January 2013.

Dowty, Rachel A. 2013. Critical pedagogy. In The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. George Ritzer (Ed.) Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Dowty, Rachel A. and Barbara Allen (eds.) 2011. Dynamics of Disaster: Lessons on Risk, Response, and Recovery. London: Earthscan. April 2011.

Dowty, Rachel. 2011. A cultural perspective on humanitarian logistics. Chapter 11 in Humanitarian Logistics: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing for and Responding to Disasters. Peter Tatham and Martin Christopher (eds.) London: Kogan Page Publishers. Pp 201-214.

Dowty, Rachel. 2011. Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief. K.B. Penuel, M.S. Statler, J.G. Golson. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. Author of the following entries:

Institutional coordination

Role of the private sector in response

Southeast and Gulf Coast of the United States

Dowty, Rachel A. and William A. Wallace. 2010. Implications of organizational culture for supply chain disruption and restoration. International Journal of Production Economics. 126(1): 57-65.

Dowty, R.A., G.P. Shaffer, M.W. Hester, G.W. Childers, F.M. Campo, and M.C. Greene. 2001. Phytoremediation of small-scale oil spills in fresh marsh environments: a mesocosm simulation. Marine Environmental Research 52 (3): 195-211.

Childers, G.W., G.P. Shaffer, and R.A. Dowty. 1996. Establishing a protocol for bioremediation of small-scale oil spills in Louisiana. Louisiana Applied Oil Spill Research and Development Program. OSRADP Technical Report Series 96-007, 55p.

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