- Press Release Distribution

Tulsa's jazz-style evolution on flood control shows importance of collaboration: Study

Growth in successful disaster planning mirrors that of musical genre

( LAWRENCE -- Tulsa may not be the first town one thinks of when talking about jazz, and flood management may not be the first vocation one compares to the musical genre. But the success Tulsa displayed in going from one of the nation's most flood-prone cities to a nationally recognized model of long-term risk reduction in just two decades is analogous to the evolution of one of the most American styles of music, a University of Kansas professor points out in a new study.

Tulsa, the second-largest city in Oklahoma, suffered several devastating floods in the 1970s and 1980s, then became a national model for flood mitigation by the 1990s. What hasn't been studied closely is how a group of engineers, planners, government officials, journalists, attorneys and citizens came together as a network of champions that adapted and evolved over a period of decades.

Ward LylesWard Lyles, associate professor of public affairs & administration at KU, co-wrote a study with Penn Pennell, KU urban planning graduate, and Rachel Riley of the University of Oklahoma detailing the group central to Tulsa's success. It was published in the journal Natural Hazards Review. The authors conducted interviews with local champions from multiple professions who began work on a flood mitigation plan in the 1970s, two of whom remained active in the work well into the 2000s, Ron Flanagan and journalist Ann Patton.

After a rapid succession of floods in the early 1970s, residents and some of the local professionals, functioning similarly to a loosely organized improvisational jazz band, seized the "window of opportunity" to press for change. Myriad approaches were pursued, including buying and demolishing homes in the floodplain and building more flood control structures. However, the band's style fell out of favor, so to speak, when a more conservative city government came to power in the late '70s and instituted more developer-friendly policies focused more on growth than floodplain safety. In their own words, some of the local champions were "exiled" from work in Tulsa and had to find jobs in other states. Meanwhile, flood control efforts cooled.

Tulsa U.S. 66 highway signTulsa suffered another devastating event, the "Memorial Day Flood" of 1984, just weeks after the election of new city leadership dedicated to renewing the commitment to flood mitigation. In subsequent years, members of the original band came back together and became more of a swing-style big band with organized sections compared to its more loosely arranged organization it the 1970s. Engineers, planners, attorneys, local residents and elected officials worked in concert to amplify and extend the efforts of the 1970s. Large swaths of flood-prone homes were purchased and the land was converted to open space suited to recreation and, when needed, flood storage. Land use regulations, engineered structure and education programs helped Tulsa become one of the dozen or so leading flood reduction communities in the early 1990s, when the Federal Emergency Management Agency initiated a program that rewarded proactive communities with lower insurances rates for residents.

The evolution was so successful that Tulsa received a major infusion of federal grant support in the late 1990s, cementing the transition of Tulsa's mitigation jazz band from a popular local group to a nationally emulated act, the authors wrote. A novel local nonprofit spun out of this effort and became a jazz institute of sorts, engaging more deeply with the Tulsa community on other hazards like tornadoes, and extending its work more broadly across the state of Oklahoma. The successful evolution illustrates many key points of successful city planning and management; namely, the importance of weaving together a network of many local champions committed to thinking long term, as opposed to the common approach of dealing with disasters solely in the moment and mainly by depending on narrow groups of experts to set policy.

"Our approach nationally has long been to try to engineer your way out of disasters, frantically respond to them when they happen, or not deal with them at all," Lyles said. "We often fail to think carefully about how land use and infrastructure decisions expose the entire community to risk until it is too late. Floods are a perfect example of this problem because flooding happens along rivers and streams, and we know very precisely where they are. The same tends to be true of areas at risk from hurricanes and wildfires, in contrast to tornados, which touch down randomly within a community."

Through the study, the interviewees revealed the critical importance of having a diverse group of local champions with a wide-ranging set of skills, not only in professional expertise like engineering, planning or law, but perhaps most importantly in communication and collaboration. Varied skills and leadership styles among these champions provided adaptability and resilience to the network but also posed challenges, the authors wrote. A key finding of the study is the role Patton played in facilitating and managing relationships, sometimes between people with very different communication styles, political attitudes and even core beliefs. Patton's professional journey - as a journalist working the "Black beat" in Tulsa in the 1970s, as a political operative and government official in the 1970s through the 1990s and a nonprofit entrepreneur in the 2000s -- is all the more remarkable because she completed her college degree just shy of turning 80 years old in the 2010s.

Emergency response groups regularly feature experts who leverage skills in fire, law enforcement and logistics to prepare for and respond to events. The same is true for city planners, engineers and other public service professionals whose responsibilities relate more to long-term risk reduction. But, across each of these professions, historically dominated by older, white males, the so-called "soft skills" of emotional intelligence, social intelligence and cultural humility -- just the kinds of skills Patton exhibited on top of her more traditional expertise -- are often minimized or ignored in favor of technical skills or specialized forms of knowledge.

"The thing we don't talk enough about in managing disasters - including public health emergencies like COVID -- is critical importance of the 'special sauce' of relationship skills essential for fostering, sustaining and harnessing a diverse and dynamic network of people," said Lyles, who has written previously on the value of caring as part of public planning. "You need someone who can help deploy the hard skills with the soft skills."

That aspect is true in a city like Tulsa with a dark history of race relations, just as it is in any location that has people of different backgrounds, cultures and experiences living together, he added. The experiences of Tulsa and others who have successfully, or even unsuccessfully, handled emergency response and planning have a great deal of parallels to the current COVID-19 pandemic response, as political differences, poor collaboration, egos and poor communication hampering responses on national, state and local levels. Understanding differences, or cultural competence, paired with cultural humility, or acknowledging that one does not completely understand the experience of others, could go a long way in improving responses to current disasters and preparation for those that will come in the future.

"It shouldn't be revolutionary that relationships matter," Lyles said. "But it takes skill to weave relationships together. It's not enough to be professionally passionate. We need social and emotional intelligence as well, and especially cultural humility."



The Science of tsunamis

The word "tsunami" brings immediately to mind the havoc that can be wrought by these uniquely powerful waves. The tsunamis we hear about most often are caused by undersea earthquakes, and the waves they generate can travel at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour and reach tens of meters high when they make landfall and break. They can cause massive flooding and rapid widespread devastation in coastal areas, as happened in Southeast Asia in 2004 and in Japan in 2011. But significant tsunamis can be caused by other events as well. The partial collapse of the volcano Anak Krakatau in Indonesia in 2018 caused a tsunami that killed more than 400 people. Large landslides, which send immense amounts of debris into the sea, also ...

Profiling gene expression in plant embryos one nucleus at a time

Following fertilization, early plant embryos arise through a rapid initial diversification of their component cell types. As a result, this series of coordinated cell divisions rapidly sculpts the embryo's body plan. The developmental phenomenon in question is orchestrated by a transcriptional activation of the plant genome. However, the underlying cellular differentiation programs have long remained obscured as the plant embryos were hard to isolate. In fact, previous attempts at creating datasets of the plant embryonic differentiation programs were incapable ...

Common perovskite superfluoresces at high temperatures

A commonly studied perovskite can superfluoresce at temperatures that are practical to achieve and at timescales long enough to make it potentially useful in quantum computing applications. The finding from North Carolina State University researchers also indicates that superfluorescence may be a common characteristic for this entire class of materials. Superfluorescence is an example of quantum phase transition - when individual atoms within a material all move through the same phases in tandem, becoming a synchronized unit. For example, when atoms in an optical material such as a perovskite are excited they can individually radiate light, create energy, and fluoresce. Each atom will start moving through these phases randomly, but given the right conditions, they can synchronize in ...

Universal mechanism of regulation in plant cells discovered

All plant cells obtain their energy mainly from two organelles they contain - chloroplasts (responsible for photosynthesis) and mitochondria (responsible for the biochemical cycle of respiration that converts sugars into energy). However, a large number of a plant cell's genes in its mitochondria and chloroplasts can develop defects, jeopardising their function. Nevertheless, plant cells evolved an amazing tool called the RNA editosome (a large protein complex) to repair these kinds of errors. It can modify defective messenger RNA that result from defective DNA by transforming (deamination) of certain mRNA nucleotides. Automatic error correction in plant cells Automatic error correction in plants was discovered about 30 years ago by a team headed by plant physiologist Axel Brennicke ...

Health disadvantages of LGB communities increase among younger generations

Health disadvantages of LGB communities increase among younger generations
While the LGBTQ+ community has seen significant advancements in legal rights, political representation and social acceptance over recent years, mental and physical health disparities still exist for queer Americans - and are even worse among younger generations, says a new study from Michigan State University. In the first-ever population-based national study comparing mental and physical health of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) Americans to their straight counterparts, MSU sociologist Hui Liu and research partner Rin Reczek, professor of sociology from Ohio State University, found that when compared to their straight counterparts, LGB Millennials have worse health disadvantages than their older peers, though disparities persist throughout older generations as ...

SARS-CoV-2 infections may trigger antibody responses against multiple virus proteins

All coronaviruses produce four primary structural proteins and multiple nonstructural proteins. However, the majority of antibody-based SARS-CoV-2 research has focused on the spike and nucleocapsid proteins. A study published in PLOS Biology by Anna Heffron, Irene Ong and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, suggests that immune responses may develop against other proteins produced by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The efficacy of spike protein-based vaccines is variable and not everyone infected with SARS-CoV-2 produces detectable antibodies against the spike or ...

New method developed to detect and adjust population structure in genetic summary data

In a new study published today in the American Journal of Human Genetics, researchers announced the development of a new method to increase the utility and equity of large genetic databases. The research was conducted by Audrey Hendricks, an associate professor of statistics at the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver). Summix, the new method developed by Hendricks and her team of CU Denver undergraduate and graduate students, estimates the genetic ancestry in databases and adjusts the information to match the ancestry of a person or sample of people. This method leads large genetic databases to become more useful for people of various ancestries such as African American or Latinx, as they are underrepresented in genetic ...

Exposure to pollutants, increased free-radical damage speeds up aging

Exposure to pollutants, increased free-radical damage speeds up aging
Every day, our bodies face a bombardment of UV rays, ozone, cigarette smoke, industrial chemicals and other hazards. This exposure can lead to free-radical production in our bodies, which damages our DNA and tissues. A new study from West Virginia University researcher Eric E. Kelley--in collaboration with the University of Minnesota--suggests that unrepaired DNA damage can increase the speed of aging. The study appears in the journal Nature. Kelley and his team created genetically-modified mice with a crucial DNA-repair protein missing from their hematopoietic stem cells, immature immune cells that develop into white blood cells. Without this ...

Listening to mix of sounds and silence preserves temporal sound processing in mice

Listening to mix of sounds and silence preserves temporal sound processing in mice
Broadband sounds embedded with short pauses can maintain temporal sound processing in a mouse model of hearing loss, according to new research published in eNeuro. Hearing loss treatments supplement auditory system function but don't repair it. However a new intervention -- playing broadband sounds during the onset of hearing loss -- may be able to prevent the damage from ever occurring. Augmented auditory environments have been able to preserve auditory processing of a wide range of sound frequencies in mice models. In a new study, Dziorny et al. modified the traditional paradigm and preserved the processing of time-related, or temporal, sound features which are vital for understanding speech. The research team exposed mice with congenital hearing loss to ...

Antibody disease enhancement of COVID-19 does not appear to occur in animal models

DURHAM, N.C. - In the fight against viruses, antibodies have the potential to either block infection or enable infection and make the disease worse, leading to concern about their use as a therapy for COVID-19. In a study published in the journal END ...


Scientists model 'true prevalence' of COVID-19 throughout pandemic

New breakthrough to help immune systems in the fight against cancer

Through the thin-film glass, researchers spot a new liquid phase

Administering opioids to pregnant mice alters behavior and gene expression in offspring

Brain's 'memory center' needed to recognize image sequences but not single sights

Safety of second dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines after first-dose allergic reactions

Changes in disparities in access to care, health after Medicare eligibility

Use of high-risk medications among lonely older adults

65+ and lonely? Don't talk to your doctor about another prescription

Exosome formulation developed to deliver antibodies for choroidal neovascularization therapy

Second COVID-19 mRNA vaccine dose found safe following allergic reactions to first dose

Plant root-associated bacteria preferentially colonize their native host-plant roots

Rare inherited variants in previously unsuspected genes may confer significant risk for autism

International experts call for a unified public health response to NAFLD and NASH epidemic

International collaboration of scientists rewrite the rulebook of flowering plant genetics

Improving air quality reduces dementia risk, multiple studies suggest

Misplaced trust: When trust in science fosters pseudoscience

Two types of blood pressure meds prevent heart events equally, but side effects differ

New statement provides path to include ethnicity, ancestry, race in genomic research

Among effective antihypertensive drugs, less popular choice is slightly safer

Juicy past of favorite Okinawan fruit revealed

Anticipate a resurgence of respiratory viruses in young children

Anxiety, depression, burnout rising as college students prepare to return to campus

Goal-setting and positive parent-child relationships reduce risk of youth vaping

New research identifies cancer types with little survival improvements in adolescents and young adul

Oncotarget: Replication-stress sensitivity in breast cancer cells

Oncotarget: TERT and its binding protein: overexpression of GABPA/B in gliomas

Development of a novel technology to check body temperature with smartphone camera

The mechanics of puncture finally explained

Extreme heat, dry summers main cause of tree death in Colorado's subalpine forests

[] Tulsa's jazz-style evolution on flood control shows importance of collaboration: Study
Growth in successful disaster planning mirrors that of musical genre