Dr. Watson's work lies at the intersection of economic development, disaster recovery, policy evaluation, urban planning, and organizational theory.
Watson has participated in multiple interdisciplinary and longitudinal research projects through the Centers, including work in Galveston County, TX after Hurricane Ike, New York City, New York after Hurricane Sandy, and Lumberton, NC after Hurricanes Matthew and Florence. She uses quasi-experimental design, surveys, and interviews to evaluate the role of disaster assistance programs--including bridge loans, revolving loans funds, forgivable loans, low-interest loans, and grant programs--in the performance and resilience of small businesses. Watson also uses institutional theory to understand the role of public-private partnerships and community organizations in the successful and timely management of disaster assistance. Her recent work has begun moving her findings to the housing context, looking at the role of assistance in recovery, restoration, and redevelopment.