Humanitarian Disaster Institute Research Labs

HDI has three research labs and one communications lab, through which graduate and undergraduate students engage directly in research and writing related to advancing psychological, spiritual, congregational, organizational, and community resilience amid disasters and humanitarian crises.

HDI Research Lab

The research labs of HDI conduct basic, applied, and translational research. They play an important role across all our work and projects by helping identify disaster and community needs, evaluating and monitoring project success, and fostering evidence-based interventions and practices. The communications lab works closely with research labs to help translate and disseminate our research for a wide audience of stakeholders and the general public. Lab members meet collectively once a month, and weekly with their individual labs.


Religion/Spirituality and Psychology in Disasters Lab

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jamie Aten

The mission of the RAPID Lab is to advance psychology of religion/spirituality (RS) and disaster research. We are particularly interested in fostering greater understanding into the relationship between faith and mental health in disaster and humanitarian contexts. The RAPID Lab also seeks to cultivate greater disaster psychological and spiritual resilience and growth through evidence-informed interventions and practices that integrate psychology and theology. Most of the lab’s projects focus on the psychology of religion/spirituality and disasters, spiritually oriented disaster psychology, disaster clergy-mental health professional collaboration, and psychology of RS and positive psychology in church life amid disasters. Lab students working on the Institute’s John Templeton Foundation grant will also have the opportunity to train and deploy to a major disaster to conduct field research.

Applied Resilience Lab

Faculty Advisor: Dr. David Boan

The Applied Resilience Lab is a global working group supporting multiple international projects and collaborative relationships. The mission of the lab is to engage students to work with global partners to translate basic research and academic training into solutions for local communities. Examples include refugee trauma care in Kenya, disaster resilience in the Philippines, chaplain training in the Ukraine, and child trauma care in Haiti. Projects focus on the relationships of the individual to communities and society as a means to promoting justice and reducing suffering among marginalized and underserved international communities.

Disaster Ministry Lab

Faculty Advisors: Dr. Jamie Aten and Dr. David Boan

The Disaster Ministry Lab is an interdisciplinary applied research team whose mission is to promote congregational and faith-based organizational resilience amid disasters and humanitarian crises. This lab conducts research that seeks to enhance the church’s global impact on helping the vulnerable through the development of tools, resources, and trainings. This lab frequently partners with faculty and students from outside the Psychology Department to help accomplish project aims.

Communications Lab

Staff Advisor: Katherine Anderson

The mission of the communications lab is to raise public awareness of HDI and build connections with churches and non-profits by building communications capacity and managing internal and external communications. Many of our projects will focus on communicating HDI’s research findings to broad audiences.

Sample Lab Projects

Our Research Labs are currently working on a number of diverse global mental health, relief, and development projects. Here’s just a few:

  • Studying how disaster survivors make meaning, relate to God, and grow psychologically and spiritually
  • Conducting clinical trial of a spiritually oriented psychotherapy for trauma to help Haitian child trauma survivors
  • Equipping local churches and faith organizations globally (e.g., United States, Japan, Philippines) for disaster ministry
  • Facilitating the creation and support of international communities of practice devoted to building capacity for church disaster ministry in the Philippines
  • Preparing Kakuma Refugee Camp pastors for trauma care and pastoral care

Lab Students

Through participation in a variety of grant and contract projects, students may design individual research projects within the network of relationships with domestic and international partners. Through these projects, students learn to develop literature reviews, develop and analyze data, design interventions, write manuscripts, and more.

For more on the research our students are presenting, view poster presentation (hyperlink) topics from the 2015 Disaster Ministry Conference, or our student-written articles and student-led conference presentations.

Join a Research Lab

To join an HDI Research Lab, please contact Joy Lobatos.

Media Center