Irasema Alcántara-Ayala is former Director and current Professor and Researcher at the Institute of Geography of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Her research seeks to understand the root causes and drivers of disaster risk through forensic investigations of disasters, and to promote integrated research on disaster risk. She is particularly interested in bridging the gap between science and policy-making and practice in the developing world.
She has previously served as member of the Committee of Scientific Planning and Review (CSPR) of the International Science Council (ISC); as Vice-President of the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk programme of the International Science Council (ISC-IRDR), of the International Geographical Union (IGU), of the International Consortium on Landslides (ICL), and of the International Association of Geomorphologists (IAG). She has also been an associate of the Board of Directors of the Global Alliance of Disaster Research Institutes.
Currently she is a member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences; the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World; the Scientific Leadership Council of the International Mountain Research Initiative; and the Scientific and Technical Advisory Group of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean.