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Dr. Erica D. Kuligowski

Dr.Erica D. Kuligowski is a sociologist in the Community Resilience Group of the Materials and Structural Systems Division (MSSD) of the Engineering Laboratory(EL) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Dr.Kuligowski holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, as well as a B.S. and M.S. in Fire Protection Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Kuligowski's Ph.D. dissertation focused on occupant decision-making and behavior performed during the pre-evacuation period of the 2001 World Trade Center disaster. Her research interests are human behavior in emergencies, including preparedness, response and recovery behaviors, behavioral modeling, and the modeling of social systems. Dr. Kuligowski joined NIST in June 2002 and has expertise in evacuation and response behavior, people movement and behavioral data collection and analysis from fires and other emergencies, emergency communications, and evacuation modeling.  

Dr.Kuligowski was part of three NIST Investigation teams. She received U.S. DOC Gold Medals for her contributions to the federal investigation of the 2001World Trade Center Disaster, where she studied the evacuation of building occupants, and the federal investigation of the May 22, 2011, Tornado in Joplin, Missouri, where she studied emergency communication systems and public response. Dr. Kuligowski also received the U.S. DOC Bronze medal for her contributions to the federal investigation of the 2003 Rhode Island Night Club Fire, where she performed evacuation modeling to recreate evacuation scenarios of the fire event.  

At present, Dr. Kuligowski is part of a team developing the Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems, which provides communities with a methodology to plan for resilience by prioritizing buildings and infrastructure systems based on their importance in supporting the social and economic functions in the community. She is also involved in projects developing a methodology to assess resilience at the community scale.



Fire Protection Engineer
Materials and Structural Systems Division
Community Resilience Program


University of Colorado, Boulder, Ph.D., Sociology, 2011

University of Maryland, College Park, M.S., Fire Protection Engineering, 2003

University of Maryland, College Park, B.S., Fire Protection Engineering, 2001


Phone: 301-975-2309
Email: erica.kuligowski@nist.gov