Media Tip Sheet: Devastating Wildfires in Hawaii

August 10, 2023

Mass evacuation efforts for residents and visitors continued today in Hawaii after a fast-burning wildfire raced across the island of Maui, killing 36 people. According to The New York Times, the fires have largely been contained but are still generating smoke and ash. 

Faculty experts at the George Washington University are available to offer insight, analysis and commentary on a number of related topics concerning the devastating wildfires in Hawaii, including the impact of climate change and the public health concerns associated with wildfires. If you would like to schedule an interview with an expert, please contact GW Media Relations at [email protected].

Lisa Benton-Short is a professor of geography whose research expertise centers around global equity and social justice. Her areas of expertise include environmental issues in cities and urban sustainability. She can discuss the role of climate change and how it is intensifying the nature of extreme weather and natural disasters as well as the frequency of these events. Benton-Short can also speak to Hawaii's unique landscape and the challenges of combating wildfires on an island as well as what recovery might look like and the measures that can be taken to help make cities and environments like this more resilient to climate change events.

Jonathan Deason is the Director of GW’s Environmental and Energy Management Institute and a professor in the GW School of Engineering and Applied Science. His expertise includes all aspects of air quality management, including greenhouse gas management and implications for global climate change mitigation and adaptation. He can also address extreme drought conditions as well as the connection between climate change and wildfires that are happening in so many parts of the world.

Neelu Tummala is a clinical assistant professor of surgery and is Co-Director of the GW Climate & Health Institute with a special interest in the effects of climate change on population health. She can address the public health impacts of climate change and how wildfire smoke affects individuals.

Ramin Asgary is a professor of Global Health and Director of Humanitarian Health at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health. His expertise focuses on ​​refugee health and humanitarian assistance. He can discuss the humanitarian crisis the wildfire has caused in Hawaii.  

James P. Phillips is an associate professor of Emergency Medicine and Chief of Disaster and Operational Medicine at GW School of Medicine & Health Sciences. He can discuss treating mass casualties in disaster areas.