About The Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI)

HDI is comprised of a college-wide interdisciplinary team of scholars and educators committed to helping underserved and vulnerable populations challenged by disasters and humanitarian crises.



Jamie Aten, PhD, Founder and Co-Director

Dr. Aten received his PhD in Counseling Psychology from Indiana State University. He is the Rech Endowed Chair & Associate Professor of Psychology, Wheaton College. Previously he was an Assistant Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, and Assistant Director-Health and Mental Health, Katrina Research Center, University of Southern Mississippi. He is the co-editor of 3 books and 4 forthcoming books. Dr. Aten’s research focuses on the psychology of religion and disasters, with an emphasis on equipping faith-based groups to prepare and respond to disasters. His research has been supported by numerous grants from federal, state, and foundation sources. For his faith-based and disaster work, he has received the Mutual of America Merit Finalist Award and American Psychological Association’s Division 36 (Psychology of Religion) Margaret Gorman Early Career Award. View Dr. Aten's profile.

David Boan, PhD, Co-Director

Dr. Boan received his PhD in clinical psychology from Biola University Rosemead School of Psychology. He has extensive experience in healthcare quality and safety, public health, and capacity building as the vice president for research and development for the Delmarva Foundation for Medical Care (Maryland) and Executive Director for Innovation, Joint Commission Resources and Joint Commission International. Dr. Boan’s research focuses on culture and its relationship to performance, knowledge transfer, and sustaining change in healthcare. His recent projects include strategic planning for a health network in the earthquake area of Sichuan Province China, building improvement capacity in international hospitals and creating standards for healthcare quality and safety for developing countries. Dr. Boan leads HDI initiatives related to capacity building, measurement, and development of standards and guidelines. View Dr. Boan's profile.


Joy Lobatos, Office Coordinator

Faculty Fellows

Faculty fellows are an integral part of the HDI, who are recognized leaders within their respective departments and disciplines. Faculty fellows serve as principals for HDI related projects and help shape and carryout initiatives of the HDI. View Faculty Fellows' profiles.

Faculty Affiliates

Faculty affiliates are a diverse group of faculty partners who participate in HDI education and research initiatives and help in carrying out HDI’s mission.

Senior Fellows

HDI offers short term fellowships that support researchers, policy makers, and leaders in the fields of disaster response and humanitarian services to come to the Wheaton Campus. Senior fellows participate in selected projects, present in classes, and conduct presentations and discussions related to their work and experience.


Both undergraduate and graduate students play an integral role in HDI projects where they receive not only first hand experience, but also mentoring to help equip them to support the global work of the church to help those in need.

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