(Photo: Courtesy of Liesel Ritchie)
Liesel Ritchie is in Boulder today, but her thoughts are very much with the people of Cordova, Ala., which is considered ground zero for the Exxon Valdez oil spill. That disaster occurred 25 years ago today.

Ritchie, who is assistant director of research at CU-Boulder's Natural Hazards Center, is an expert on the social impacts of disaster. For 24 years, she and a group of researchers studied the effects of the spill on Cordova and its residents.

More recently, she's been leading a study of how another historic spill -- the Deepwater Horizon disaster -- is affecting people on the Gulf Coast.