Jackson State University videos urge preparedness and awareness of weather disasters, emergencies

(JACKSON, Miss.) — In a series of videos, Jackson State University continues to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies. The initiatives C.R.E.A.T.E. (Community Resilience Engaging Advanced Training and Education) and Project FAST (Females Advancing Science and Technology) both aid Mississippians by providing information about urgent notifications, shelters, evacuations, public safety, and more.

Recently, the Department of Homeland Security awarded JSU a $469,000 interdisciplinary grant to prepare underrepresented undergraduate minority students to successfully enter graduate programs or careers in emergency management and/or disaster preparedness. It targets male and female students seeking degrees in one of the following areas: computer science, emergency management technology, meteorology, psychology and journalism and media studies.

As a result of the grant, C.R.E.A.T.E. completed five weather preparedness videos with help from JSU’s Journalism and Media Studies, which conducted interviews of those in the community who have been impacted by weather disasters. The visuals are used to better assist in developing more effective and efficient notifications.

The national preparedness campaign focuses on the following aspects/reminders for individuals, families and communities:

  • Make a plan: Talk to friends and family about how they will communicate before, during and after a disaster. Make sure to update the plan based on CDC recommendations related to COVID-19.
  • Build a kit: Gather supplies that will last several days after a disaster for everyone living in a home. To evacuate quickly, don’t forget to consider the unique needs of each person or pet. Update kits and supplies based on recommendations by the CDC.
  • Low-cost, no-cost preparedness: Natural disasters don’t wait for a convenient time. Preparing for them shouldn’t wait either. Start today by signing up for alerts. Safe-guard important documents and take low cost and no-cost preparedness actions to lessen the impact for you and your family.
  • Preparing youth: Talk to and reassure children about emergency-preparedness, telling them what to do in case they are separated and how they can get involved.

C.R.E.A.T.E. is aligned with the National Weather Service of Jackson and works in tandem with JSU’s Project FAST, which targets women and aims to bolster their studies in STEM and psychology. It is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Dr. Jessica Murphy

Dr. Jessica Murphy, principal investigator and professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental and Industrial Systems and Technology, said C.R.E.A.T.E. projects have resulted in four virtual town hall meetings focusing on Mississippi weather preparedness. Panelists have included supporters from the National Weather Service, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Mississippi Insurance Commission. JSU also forged alliances with Infra Gard (a partner with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security), Jackson Public Schools teachers, and local law enforcement.

“The aim is to better assist Mississippi in developing more effective and efficient emergency notifications and cultivate the next generation of emergency preparedness professionals,” Murphy said.

Professor Don Spann

C.R.E.A.T.E. worked alongside Professor Don Spann in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies. His video interviews spotlight recent weather tragedies.

In addition, the C.R.E.A.T.E. program offers scholarships to students with a 3.20 GPA or better. The application link can be found here and includes more details and requirements.

Dr. Dawn Bishop McLin

As it relates to Project FAST, Dr. Dawn Bishop McLin, principal investigator and a professor in the Department of Psychology, said the aim is to enhance the undergraduate and graduate education for women. As a professor in the College of Liberal Arts, she said one of the goals is to reach into the community by hosting classes and outreach events in vulnerable areas.

Subsequently, JSU partnered with the National Weather Service for a virtual town hall to promote safety and preparedness. Moreover, several young females in the program are being counseled by professional women in their respective STEM fields that align with Project FAST.

“Mentorship provides young women access to STEM professionals outside of their personal networks and provides them with opportunities to education and careers that they may not have previously known about or considered. A few of these mentors are graduates of JSU,” McLin said.

McLin even reflected on her time as an undergraduate student at JSU.

“I was mentored in the field of psychology. Today, the NSF grant has allowed me to give back to my alma mater and especially to students. It’s an example of full-circle mentorship. The greatest outcomes of this project will be a more educated society and better prepared communities. There will be a new generation of young minority women inspired to pursue careers in STEM fields with a particular interest in emergency preparedness.”


C.R.E.A.T.E operates in partnership with the National Weather Service of Jackson and is sponsored by the Center for Coastal Resilience. The multidisciplinary collaboration is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Award #21STSLA00010-01-01. 

Targeted Infusion Project: Females Advancing Science and Technology (FAST) is funded by the National Science Foundation (Award Abstract # 2011284)