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Medical Anthropologist Studies Modern Disasters, including Fukushima Meltdown

Older gentleman in a grey suit jacket stands in a bookstore giving a lecture.
Gregory Button of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville giving a public lecture. (Image credit: Gregory Button, University of Tennessee, Knoxville)

This ScienceLives article was provided to LiveScience in partnership with the National Science Foundation.

A year after the nuclear meltdown that occurred on March 11, 2011, in Fukushima, Japan, Gregory Button, a professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is studying the scientific uncertainty surrounding that event.

For more than three decades he has researched various aspects of major disasters including environmental health, scientific uncertainty, disaster mitigation response and preparedness, disaster policy, long-term recovery, clean-up efforts, human rights and other critical issues.

Among the many disasters he has studied include the toxic waste leak in Love Canal, NY; the Exxon-Valdez oil spill in 1989; the 2008 coal fly ash spill near Kingston, Tennessee; and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

He was one of the first researchers on the scene to investigate the met and unmet medical needs of Hurricane Katrina evacuees with funding provided by the National Science Foundation Quick Response program.

Button is a senior fellow and a co-director of the Center for the Study of Social Justice. His most recent book is, Disaster Culture: Knowledge and Uncertainty in the Wake of Human and Environmental Disasters (2010, Left Coast Press).

Here he answers the LiveScience 10 questions.

Name: Gregory V. Button Institution: University of Tennessee, Knoxville Field of Study: Medical Anthropologist

Editor's Note: This research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the federal agency charged with funding basic research and education across all fields of science and engineering. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. See the ScienceLives archive.