UH West Oʻahu team to investigate disaster risks and socio-economic costs of albizia

Albizia tree is blocking the road after falling.

Albizia tree is blocking the road after falling.

UH West Oʻahu Associate Professor Jason Levy is the principal investigator on a Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC) grant to carry out an economic analysis of the socio-economic costs posed by F. moluccana (i.e. Albizia).

Albizia is considered a roadside, urban forest, and residential pest of major significance – affecting transportation, critical infrastructure, agriculture, natural resources, residences, businesses, and human health. The potential failure of albizia’s massive limbs creates life safety hazards in residential areas by blocking thoroughfares, knocking down powerlines and dropping onto cars, homes, fences and backyard areas where children play.

Two other UH West Oʻahu faculty, Dr. Peiyong “Patricia” Yu and Dr. Ross Prizzia, serve as senior investigators on the $50,000 grant. Dr. Yu is an instructor of economics at UH West Oʻahu while Dr. Prizzia is a professor of public administration and Director of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management programs at UHWO.

Other senior investigators on the grant include Kimberly Burnett (UHERO/UH Mānoa) and PingSun Leung (NREM/UH Mānoa). Burnett and Leung will provide valuable insights into the environmental impacts of albizia and highlight the disaster risks and socio-economic costs imposed by albizia on many sectors of Hawaiʻi’s economy.

The UHWO team is also collaborating with Dr. Joey Valenti and his colleagues at UH Mānoa to investigate the use of invasive tree species for green energy and construction. Dr. Levy and Dr. Yu recently investigated the use of engineered albizia building components with Dr. Valenti in Kakaako to promote sustainable design and green urbanism, reduce homelesess and create disaster resilent shelter. This resulted in the co-authored book chapter to be published by Springer – International Publisher Science, Technology, Medicine: “Promoting Green Urbanism and Disaster Resilience in the Anthropocene: From Invasive to Community in Kakaako.”

Jason Levy

UHWO Associate Professor Jason Levy

Peiyong "Patricia" Yu

Instructor of Economics Peiyong “Patricia” Yu

Professor of Public Administration and Director of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management Programs Ross Prizzia

Professor of Public Administration and Director of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management Programs Ross Prizzia


Dr. Jason Levy

Dr. Jason Levy is an associate professor of disaster preparedness and emergency management program at UH West Oʻahu. To support his multidiscipinary disaster management research he has received more than $3 million dollars in public administration, social science, humanities and engineering research grants from major funding agencies including the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the  Canadian  Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) . The recipient of several prestigious research and teaching awards, he has published over 50 peer reviewed journal publications and helped to establish and lead a number of disaster and emergency management programs around the world. His latest book “Towards Disaster Risk Reduction: A Policy-Focused Approach to Natural Hazards and Disasters” discusses interdisciplinary strategies for reducing disaster risk and managing the unexpected and cascading impacts of hazards and disasters that cross policy domains, geographic, political and sectoral boundaries.

Dr. Peiyong “Patricia” Yu

Dr. Peiyong “Patricia” Yu has a PhD in economics from Northern Illinois University. Her research focuses on regional economics, environmental economics, and urban economics.

Dr. Ross Prizzia

Dr. Prizzia is professor of public administration and director of disaster preparedness and emergency management programs at the University of Hawaiʻi – West Oʻahu. He is the author of numerous journal articles, book chapters and four books, and also served as senior editor for the journal Risk, Hazards, & Crisis in Public Policy and serves as peer reviewer for the Journal of Environmental Economics, International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, and the American Review of Public Administration.

Images courtesy of Jason Levy, Terri Ota and Mellissa Lochman