Comfort is a known expert in decision-making in crisis, disaster preparedness, and the use of technology to inform managers operating under urgent conditions. Graduating with a PhD from Yale University, she engaged in field studies following 23 earthquakes in 15 countries and has authored multiple books.
She is a Professor and former Director, Center for Disaster Management, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh. She is an affiliated researcher with the Policy Lab, Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, University of California, Berkeley and Concurrent Professor, School of Government, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China, 2019. She currently serves as Chief Editor, Social Sciences, for the Natural Hazards Review, Board Member, International Comparative Policy Analysis Forum, and on the editorial boards of the American Review of Public Administration and State and Local Government Review. Her most recent books include The Dynamics of Decision Making: Changing Technologies and Collective Action in Seismic Events, Princeton University Press, 2019 and Global Risk Management: The Role of Collective Cognition in Response to COVID-19, co-edited with Mary Lee Rhodes, Routledge Publications, 2022. Her research has focused on decision making in response to natural hazards and other urgent events: earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, and most recently, COVID-19.
Fellow, National Academy of Public Administration; Fred Riggs Award for Lifetime Achievement, Section on International Comparative Public Administration, American Society for Public Administration; 2020 Don K. Price Award for Best Book, Section on Science, Technology, and Environmental Politics, American Political Science Association