Hurricane Maria

Fearless Science






Hurricane Maria

Despite the catastrophic effects from Hurricane Maria in 2017—the worst storm Puerto Rico had experienced in nearly a century—the official death toll on the island stood at 64. In the hurricane’s aftermath, the Puerto Rican government commissioned the George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health (GWSPH) to conduct an independent assessment of mortality there and uncover an accurate count. In essence, to find out what really happened.  

Read the Report

Key Researchers 



Project Team & Advisors

GW Team

  • Dr. Elizabeth Andrade, Dr.PH., M.P.H.; Behavioral Scientist
  • Nicole Barrett, M.P.H.; Senior Research Associate
  • Dr. Uriyoan Colon-Ramos, Sc.D., M.P.A.; Nutritionist
  • Dr. Mark Edberg, Ph.D., M.A.; Anthropologist
  • Alejandra Garcia-Meza, M.P.H.; Consultant
  • Dr. Ann Goldman, Ph.D., M.P.H, M.A.; Epidemiologist, Economist
  • Dr. Lynn Goldman, M.D., M.S., M.P.H.; Dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health, Environmental Health Specialist
  • Dr. Amira Roess, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Epidemiologist
  • Dr. John Sandberg, Ph.D., M.A.; Demographer
  • Dr. Carlos Santos-Burgoa, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.; Epidemiologist

UPR Team

  • Noel Estrada Merly, M.S.; Graduate Research Assistant
  • Dr. Cruz Maria Nazario, Ph.D.; Epidemiologist
  • Dr. Cynthia Pérez, Ph.D.; Epidemiologist
  • Dr. Erick Suarez Pérez, Ph.D., M.A.; Biostatistician

Additional GW Team Members

  • Ljubica Latinovic, M.D., M.H.A.; Communications Expert
  • Ivonne Rivera, M.P.H.; Expert in Qualitative Analysis
  • Dr. Scott Zeger, Ph.D., M.S. (Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health); Biostatistician


Advisory Group

External Panel of Experts

  • Samuel Clark, Ph.D., M.A.; Demographer
  • Debarati Guha Sapir, Ph.D.; Epidemiologist
  • Bernardo Hernández Prado, DSc., M.S.; Epidemiologist, Mortality Estimation Expert
  • Matthew Seeger, Ph.D.; Communications Expert
  • Dr. Scott Zeger, Ph.D., M.S. (Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health); Biostatistician

GW Internal Technical Experts

  • Daniel Hoffman, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Epidemiologist
  • Pietro Marghella, D.H.Sc., M.Sc., M.A., CEM, FACCP; Complex humanitarian emergencies expert
  • Sam Simmens, Ph.D., M.A; Biostatistician
  • Ronald Waldman, M.D., M.P.H.; Complex humanitarian emergencies expert


Source (PDF)







Public Health vs. Politics

While there was some anticipated controversy over the revised death toll published in GW’s study, no one could have predicted one of its primary drivers—the President of the United States. Not long after the study went public, President Trump took issue with GW’s findings, falsely alleging that they were politically motivated to make him look as bad as possible. In response, Dean Goldman published an op-ed in The Washington Post, underscoring the facts that the study was based in state-of-the-art science and politics played no role.  

Dean Goldman's Op-Ed