Baylor Media Resources on Hurricane Katrina

Sept. 1, 2005

For information on Baylor's relief efforts, go to "Baylor Responds to Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts."

Baylor University faculty experts are available to the media on various topics surrounding Hurricane Katrina and its devastating aftermath on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

For home or mobile numbers for Baylor faculty, reporters are asked to please call or e-mail the Baylor media relations contact for assistance.

Baylor also has satellite (KU band; analog) and ISDN capabilities for broadcast interviews with university faculty. For additional assistance, contact Lori Fogleman, director of media relations, at (254) 710-6275 or cell (254) 709-5959.

Dealing With Biohazards

Disease Control in the Aftermath of a Natural Disaster

Dr. Rene Massengale, a microbiologist who researches in Baylor's Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research, focuses on pathogens in water quality. In addition, she is an expert on the role of microbes in respiratory disease and the broader analysis of environmental exposures to microbes.

Before joining Baylor in 2001, Massengale worked for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health as a research project director and program director. Massengale can be reached at (254) 710-2911 or

Baylor Media Contact: Judy Long (254) 710-4656

Spread of Toxic Chemicals and Petroleum Products Through Floodwaters

Dr. Bryan Brooks, an environmental toxicologist in the environmental studies department at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, is an expert on contaminants in the fresh water supply, including pesticides, heavy metals and pharmaceuticals.

Two years ago, Brooks garnered international attention for his research on pharmaceuticals, such as Prozac, in downstream waters of large cities and how they affect aquatic life. He can be reached at (254) 710-6553 or

Baylor Media Contact: Judy Long (254) 710-4656

Hope, Resilience, Meaning, and Psychological Well-Being After Tragedy

Dr. Roderick D. Hetzel, staff psychologist and coordinator of training at the Baylor Counseling Center, specializes in positive psychology, an emerging field of study which focuses on promoting optimal human functioning by enhancing positive emotional states and developing character strengths and virtues.

As president-elect of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS) Southwest Region, Hetzel is helping prepare materials for Gulf Coast residents on building hope, resilience, meaning, and psychological well-being in the wake of tragedy.

In August, Hetzel was invited to participate in a plenary symposium on positive psychology at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.

Hetzel, who also holds adjunct faculty appointments in Baylor's department of psychology and neuroscience and department of educational psychology, can be reached at (254) 710-2467 or

Baylor Media Contact: Lori Fogleman (254) 710-6275 or cell (254) 709-5959

Trauma After a Natural Disaster

Dr. Gary Brooks, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience, is a clinical psychologist who specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder. A recognized expert on dealing with trauma, Brooks was invited to address the International Conference on Cognitive Therapy in Oslo, Norway in June 2005.

Before coming to Baylor, Brooks practiced clinical psychology in the Veteran's Administration Health Care System. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and has been president of APA's division of family psychology and the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity. Brooks can be reached at (254) 710-2250 or

Baylor Media Contact: Judy Long (254) 710-4656

Helping Children Cope with Trauma

Dr. Helen Benedict, professor of psychology and neuroscience, is a child clinical psychologist who specializes in children who have been traumatized. Benedict received her doctorate from Yale University and has more than 25 years experience dealing with children in a clinical setting. A member of the Association for Play Therapy, Benedict practices play therapy to promote the psychosocial and mental health of children. Benedict can be reached at (254) 710-2961 or

Baylor Media Contact: Judy Long (254) 710-4656

Suicide Triggered by Traumatic Events

At least one suicide has been attributed to Hurricane Katrina already. Dr. David Rudd, an internationally known suicidologist and chair of the department of psychology and neuroscience, says depressed individuals sometimes cannot summon the inner resources to deal with the stress of a cataclysmic event.

Rudd has served as president of the American Association of Suicidology, an organization targeting suicide prevention worldwide. His book, Treating Suicidal Behavior, has become a valuable resource for health professionals dealing with suicide issues.

Rudd can be reached at (254) 710-2234 or email His bio can be found here.

Baylor Media Contact: Judy Long (254) 710-4656

Challenges in Identifying Remains

Dr. Lori Baker, assistant professor who teaches in Baylor's forensic science program, is an expert on DNA analysis of bone, teeth and hair samples. She says this about the situation in New Orleans, "They are going to have additional problems that have occurred in New Orleans before...the buried remains are going to be mixed with those of the recently deceased. It is going to be a forensic mess."

A forensic anthropologist at Baylor, Lori Baker has attracted national attention not only for her work in DNA research but also for her unique DNA identification program, "Reuniting Families," which seeks to identify bodies of immigrants who died while trying to cross the Mexico border into the United States. Her frequent television, radio and newspaper interviews include those for National Public Radio, National Geographic Ultimate Explorer, The Washington Post, Associated Press, Arizona Republic, Los Angeles Times and San Antonio Express-News, among others.

Baker can be reached at (254) 710-1165 or Her bio can be found here.

Baylor Media Contact: Julie Carlson (254) 710-6681

Dr. Susan Wallace, director of the forensic science program, is a sought-after forensic anthropologist who has worked to identify skeletal remains for many high-profile cases. She has consulted for numerous law enforcement agencies, including the Texas Rangers and FBI, on the recovery and identification of human remains. She received a master's certificate in death investigation at St. Louis Medical School and studied forensic photography at the Dade County Medical Examiner Department and is a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Science and a member of the American College of Forensic Examiners. In 1999, she received a certificate of honor from then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush for her work in forensic anthropology and the aid she has provided in crime investigations. Wallace can be reached at (254) 752-9284 or

Baylor Media Contact: Julie Carlson (254) 710-6681

Suffering and Faith

Dr. Randall O'Brien, chair of the department of religion and interim provost, conducts research in the area of the problem of innocent suffering, evil, and a God of love. He was quoted in an Associated Press story on suffering and faith after the tsunami. (See .) His books include Set Free by Forgiveness: The Way to Peace and Healing, Who Is Jesus?, The Mosaic Messiah, and a book of stories titled, I Feel Better All Over He presently is writing an historical novel on the Civil Rights Movement in the South in the 1960s, and is planning a volume on the Book of Job, dealing with issues of innocent suffering, doubt and faith. O'Brien can be reached at (254) 710-3601 or His bio can be found here.

Baylor Media Contact: Julie Carlson (254) 710-6681

Disaster Response

Dr. William Mitchell, the Jo Murphy Chair of International Education, has focused much of his research on the emergency response to natural disasters, primarily earthquakes. He has responded to seven disasters in Turkey and one in Italy as part of the investigative team for the National Science Foundation's Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. Mitchell can be reached at 710-2657 or by email at His bio can be found here.

Baylor Media Contact: Julie Carlson (254) 710-6681

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