Overview of SRA's Specialty Groups

Applied Risk Management

Risk management has become a rapidly expanding endeavor for private, government and non-profit organizations alike. The Applied Risk Management Specialty Group seeks to meet the needs of risk managers, including those who may not consider themselves to be risk specialists, by advancing and promoting applied risk management concepts, terminology and frameworks. In so doing, we strive to make risk analysis tools developed in other SRA specialty groups more relevant and accessible to the non-specialist. A big priority for us is to promote the exchange of ideas, needs and knowledge between applied risk managers and risk specialist such as researchers, scholars, teachers, analysts, communicators and other applicable technical fields.

Decision Analysis and Risk

The Decision Analysis and Risk Specialty Group (DARSG) provides leadership and plays an active role in advancing the use of decision analysis and risk assessment tools in policy and practice, and also facilitates knowledge development and idea exchange. The interdisciplinary nature of this specialty group implies close ties and joint activities with many other specialty groups. DARSG sponsors best student paper awards and SRA continuing education workshops, reviews relevant papers submitted for the annual meetings, and coordinates joint activities with other professional societies (INFORMS Decision Analysis Society, Military Application Society, SETAC, SOT).

Dose-Response

The Dose Response Specialty Group focuses on the relationships between underlying causal mechanisms for toxic effects, population dose response relationships (including interindividual variability), and implications for regulatory choices. We are interested in probabilistic methods to assist in analyzing the benefits of measures that are expected to alter population exposures to chemical, physical, and microbial hazards. We also hope to advance the integrated use of mechanistic, animal, and epidemiologic data to estimate risks at lower doses than can be directly assessed in animal toxicology or human studies. We provide opportunities for vigorous interdisciplinary exchange in our sponsored symposia and 3 teleseminars per year led by invited speakers. The teleseminars are held in March, June, and September in place of our regular monthly teleconferences at 12:00-1:00 PM (Eastern time) on the first Tuesday of the month. Instructions for joining the electronic mail notification list are available on the DRSG web site. All are welcome to participate in the teleseminars and our monthly discussions of annual meeting symposia, student awards, and other business.

Ecological Risk Assessment

Ecological risk assessment concentrates on evaluating many types of human activities and other processes for their potential risks to ecological systems and the services that they provide. The classic case has been the introduction of toxic chemicals from use as pesticides or from chemical releases. Ecological risk assessment has become much broader in recent years. Risks due to invasive or non-indigenous species, genetically modified organisms, and climate change are being evaluated. In contrast to the relatively small spatial scales of past assessments, cutting edge assessments are being conducted at very large spatial scales. In addition to the calculation of risk, a major activity is how this information can be used in decision making and long-term planning. In the near term the Specialty Group is planning to hold workshops on a number of topics, including regional risk assessment, invasive species, statistical methods, and the integration of human and ecological risk assessment. All individuals with an interest in ecological risk assessment are encouraged to join, whether you are a creator of a risk assessment or a decision maker that uses this type of information.

Economics and Benefits Analysis

Risk management decisions require difficult choices between devoting resources to achieving risk reductions, or instead allowing individuals, firms, and government agencies to use these resources to provide other desirable goods and services. The SRA Economics and Benefits Analysis Specialty Group (EBASG) focuses on the use of economic analyses to support these decisions. We work to improve the quality and usefulness of these analyses, by facilitating the exchange of ideas and knowledge among practitioners, researchers, scholars, teachers, and others, by encouraging collaborative research, and by providing leadership and playing an active role in advancing issues related to risk analysis and economics. For more information on joining the EBASG and on our activities, please visit our website: http://www.sra.org/ebasg.

Emerging Nanoscale Materials

The overarching goals of the Emerging Nanoscale Materials Specialty Group are to: facilitate the exchange of ideas and knowledge among practitioners, researchers, scholars, teachers, and others interested in risk analysis and emerging nanoscale materials; encourage collaborative research on risk analysis and emerging nanoscale materials; and provide leadership and play an active role in advancing issues related to risk analysis and emerging nanoscale materials.

Engineering and Infrastructure

The Engineering and Infrastructure Specialty Group supports SRA members in addressing risk analysis for a variety of engineering topics including energy, homeland security, environmental protection and pollution prevention, nanotechnologies, transportation, military operations, disaster preparedness and response, technology regulation, water and wastewater, soil, air, analytical methods, and others. The E&I Specialty Group sponsors best student paper awards, encourages engineering submissions for the journal Risk Analysis, pursues joint activities with engineering professional societies, and invites and reviews engineering papers for the annual meeting.

Exposure Assessment

The Exposure Assessment Specialty Group is comprised of Society for Risk Analysis members who are interested in the role of exposure assessment in risk analysis. Open to all members, the Group promotes and fosters independent and collaborative research in all facets of exposure science to advance the state of the art and serves as a resource to the Society in matters concerning the role of exposure in risk analysis.

Foundational Issues in Risk Analysis

The  Foundational Issues in Risk Analysis Specialty Group (FRASG) provides a scientific and technical forum for dialogue on foundational issues in risk analysis and promote initiatives reaching the diverse communities of risk analysts and researchers. It leads the organization of workshops, conferences, and committees to study and reflect on issues that are critical for risk analysis as a field and are relevant for broad categories of applications. These issues cover the study, investigation, development and scrutiny/clarification of basic and general concepts, theories, principles, and methods for the purpose of understanding, assessing, describing, managing, governing, and/or communicating risk.  For more information on joining FRASG and on our activities, please visit our website: http://www.sra.org/frasg.

Microbial Risk Analysis

The Microbial Risk Analysis (previously known as Biological Stressors) Specialty Group focuses on public health risks associated with a variety of biological hazards including:  human pathogens transmitted through routes such as food, water, air, organs (including blood), or body fluids and excretions; zoonotic pathogens; biologically produced disease agents (such as allergens and mycotoxins); plant and animal pathogens; plant and animal pests; invasive species; and invasive genetic material. These hazards generally share many common features, such as the ability to grow, reproduce and die; to disperse both actively and passively; to interact with other biological populations in the ecosystem; and to evolve and adapt. 

Occupational Health and Safety

The Occupational Health and Safety Specialty Group (OHSSG) focuses on risk analysis related to workers and workplaces. Occupational risks are often among the most severe risks encountered by humans. The prevailing levels of risk of disease and injury in the workplace tend to be three or more orders of magnitude higher than corresponding risks in the general environment. Occupational cohorts have been the source of much of the raw data for environmental risk assessment. Important science-policy issues are most prominent in occupational health, including genetic screening and monitoring, and risk spreading through dose/time adjustments, hazard thresholds, wage-risk tradeoffs in employment, and development and use of occupational exposure limits. The OHSSG plans to foster thoughtful discussion and interaction on these issues through increased participation in the SRA, through sponsored workshops, and through symposia relating to workplace hazards, risk assessment and risk management. All individuals with an interest in worker safety and health are encouraged to join.

Risk and Development

The Risk and Development Specialty Group serves as a focal point for SRA members interested in such crucial topics as risk and sustainable development, the risks associated with poverty, the risks of economic growth, risk and distributional equity, risk and international development assistance, and at-risk youth and community development. These topics can engage risk analysts with expertise in health, environment, economics, engineering, decision making, communication, and law and policy, among other disciplines. Major debates aimed at scales from the global to the local interact deeply with issues of risk and development.

Risk Communication

The Risk Communication Specialty Group (RCSG), founded in 1990, focuses on the communication of risk information between technical and lay audiences and is open to all members of the Society for Risk Analysis. Our membership represents a variety of theoretical and practical perspectives on risk communication. Members' interest areas include the perception of risk, public participation, mass media coverage of risk, trust and credibility, social influence, and evaluation related to risk communication activities.

Risk Policy and Law

The Risk, Policy & Law (RP&L) Specialty Group of the Society for Risk Analysis is a group of scientists, social scientists, lawyers, engineers and others interested in the interface between risk analysis, public policy and laws. The RP&L Specialty Group was formerly called the “Risk, Science & Law” Specialty Group; it changed its name in 2006. The group’s goal is to support collaborative research and dialogue to identify and illuminate issues that arise from risk-related legislative acts, regulatory rules, treaties, oversight and review mechanisms, judicial proceedings, and other legal institutions. The group regularly organizes a symposium session at the annual SRA meeting, including recent symposia on executive oversight of risk regulation in the U.S. and Europe. The group also engages in occasional collaborative research projects. For example, members of the specialty group prepared a casebook of risk court cases over a period of several years.

Security and Defense

The Security and Defense Specialty Group (SDSG), newly formed in December 2009, focuses on the development and application of risk analysis to security and defense. These domains present unique and challenging opportunities for the risk analysis community, and benefit from dedicated focus within the Society. It is our belief that the security and defense community has a need for increased interaction and engagement with the academic and broader risk analysis communities to ensure that the best minds and approaches are brought to bear on some of our toughest problems. As such, SDSG has three objectives: first, to provide a forum for the sharing and exchange of ideas related to the unique risk and decision analysis challenges in security and defense; second, to encourage the use of sound analytic practice in security and defense analyses; and third, to encourage and facilitate the advancement of the state-of-the-art with respect to security and defense risk analysis.