Newly minted PhD hopes to return home to further disaster management
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Hotavia Gingerlei Porter, who is the first American Samoan to receive a PhD in Urban Planning from the University of Hawaii at Manoa was joined by her family at her graduation on May 13.
Her dissertation is entitled “Enhancing Disaster Resilience of Pacific Islands through Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)’’.
Ginger’s work reviewed the impacts of disaster communication technologies on the resilience of small island communities, comparing tsunami events in American Samoa (2009) and Tonga (2022).
Relative to her dissertation, Ginger won the 2022 Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii (RCUH) Outstanding Team Award for humanitarian assistance and disaster response in the aftermath of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga, where she led a team to assist agencies in Tonga communicate through satellite communication technologies when both the domestic and international submarine fiber optics cable was severed from the eruption.
As part of her research, Ginger has presented in various scientific and seminars in Hawaii and across the Asia-Pacific regions, more recently are the Scientific Forum on Disaster Risk Reduction in Bali, Indonesia (2022), Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance Seminar in Honolulu, HI (2022-2023) and the Center for Pacific Island Studies Resilient Pacific series.
“I hope to return to American Samoa and find a home to further research and application in disaster management and planning” says the newly minted PhD.
She is currently the Director of the Pacific International Training Desk Program at the University of Hawaii. She is also a Program Coordinator for the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center and Disaster and Department of Urban and Regional Planning. Ginger serves as Steersperson of the Communications Hui for the Pacific Risk Management Ohana (PRiMO). She also serves as Vice Chair of the Education and Training Panel of the Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC) on behalf of the United States. Other focal areas of interest and experience are strategic planning, community health planning, disaster communications, distance learning and telehealth.
Ginger is from the village of Auasi, American Samoa. Her parents are Marston Mataava Porter and Wilma Banse Porter. She is an alumna of Fagaitua High School and the American Samoa Community College. Ginger received her undergraduate degree also from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and her graduate degree from Boise State University in Boise, Idaho.