Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Biology



Major Advisor

Vicken Hillis, Ph.D.


Brittany Brand, Ph.D.


Marie-Anne de Graaff, Ph.D.


Jesse Barber, Ph.D.


The understanding of factors that influence technology adoption in emergency planners is foundational for ensuring resilient communities to hazards in the future. We explore these factors through an interdisciplinary, social-ecological science lens. In this thesis, we use cultural evolutionary theory to understand the facilitators and barriers of Light Detection and Ranging (lidar) adoption in flood risk management, as a case study of technology adoption for long-term risk mitigation. We then disseminate our findings through three educational outlets: a webinar, a white paper (Appendix A), and a Story Map. This thesis contributes to our intellectual understanding of technology adoption, as well as provides information to minimize barriers to lidar uptake in Idaho.

In the first chapter of the thesis, we used a mixed-methods empirical study to measure the facilitators of lidar adoption as a risk mitigation tactic in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Previous studies disproportionately focused on individual predictors of risk mitigation behavior such as risk perception, without identifying the contextual and collective drivers of risk mitigation behavior. We address this gap by examining both the individual (e.g., direct experience, risk-taking attitude, risk perception) and collective predictors (e.g., peer influence, network expertise) of lidar adoption regionally. We found that peer influence, or the proportion of lidar users in a respondent’s social network, network strength, network expertise, and risk perception significantly increase the likelihood of an individual to adopt lidar. The findings of this chapter contribute tounderstanding the role of collective predictors in long-term risk mitigation behavior and provide a foundational basis for future disaster research.

In the second chapter of the thesis, we developed three educational outreach products with varying audience and intention in mind. These products addressed barriers identified in our semi-structured interviews and survey instrument from our mixed-methods empirical study discussed in Chapter One. The first product was a webinar that was attended by 65 flood risk managers and included a panel of cross-sector participants. The second product was a white paper, intended for the Idaho Geospatial Council-Executive Committee and Elevation Technical Working Group. With input from these groups, the product will eventually be used to ask for a lidar liaison position and lidar acquisition budget for Idaho. The Story Map accompanies the white paper and provides detailed account of various lidar applications throughout Idaho. The Story Map showcases content from 10 different lidar stakeholders. Both the white paper and Story Map exist in digital formats that are easily shareable and are considered living documents that can be updated as needed.

The overarching goal of this thesis was to understand the facilitators and barriers of lidar adoption and increase uptake of lidar adoption in Idaho. Chapter One focuses on intellectual scholarship and is formatted as a manuscript for publication in the Climate Risk Management journal. Chapter Two focuses on applied scholarship with the greater lidar community. Appendix A is the white paper, Appendix B is a copy of the semi-structured interview instrument, and Appendix C is a copy of the survey instrument. Reference sections follow each chapter individually. This project was funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Grant No. EMS-2019-CA-00030