My research focuses on the intersection between urban planning and climate change and explores how climate action planning can make more sustainable and resilient cities. I utilize qualitative research methods such as stakeholder interviews, workshop facilitation and content analysis of public policy documents. One broad area of my research is better understanding how the urban planning profession and planning processes in cities are addressing climage change, and how effective these approaches are in documents like comprehensive plans and hazard mitigation plans or newer climate action plans. Although I am interested in the evolution of climate action planning across diverse city sizes and geographies, a particular area of my research is exploring how cities can increase their resilience to extreme heat. Extreme heat is an increasing climate risk with less existing governance structure than other risks like sea level rise and urban flooding.

I am always open to discuss research collaboration opportunities. If you are a prospective undergraduate or graduate student who like to join our team, refer to the Opportunities page.

Current Research

Urban Heat and Health Interventions and Evidence Gaps

This project in partnership with NOAA’s Climate Program Office involves a deep-dive into the emerging heat governance of five diverse cities in the U.S., including stakeholder interviews and policy analysis. Virtual dialogues will also be held with the stakeholders in these communities and a pilot plan integration for heat will be conducted. Project begins summer of 2020.

Visioning a Cooler Tucson: Participatory Planning for Extreme Heat Resilience

This interdisciplinary research project seeks to harness digital visualization to increase public education and involvement in policy decisions, as the Tucson area considers ways to adapt to extreme heat brought on by climate change and the urban heat island effect. The project includes the creation of an interactive visual learning tool that helps people understand the implications of climate change, the urban heat island effect, and extreme heat, and make informed decisions about their own preferences for strategies to reduce impacts. The digital tool will include information about extreme heat and the impacts of a variety of planning and design adaptation strategies. After participants have examined material in the learning modules, a poll will collect their feedback about desired interventions and data about the impact of the learning process. [more information – external link]

Climate Profile for the City of Flagstaff

Community Climate Profiles

I am a Co-PI of this project where we are creating community climate profiles including basic climate information, such as 1) summary analysis of historical/instrumental temperature and precipitation data at local scales; 2) non-technical explanations of key climate phenomenon that impact climate and weather in the region; 3) depiction and discussion of current climate trends for location of interest; 4) depiction and discussion of climate projections at different Representative Concentration Pathways; and 5) a summary of expected climate impacts. Partner communities so far include the City of Flagstaff, AZ; Dove Mountain HOA in Oro Valley, AZ; Laguna Pueblo, NM, and the City of Sedona, AZ. [more information – external link]

Completed Research

Evaluating the Use of Urban Heat Island and Heat Increase Modeling in Land Use and Planning Decision-Making

This study focuses on documenting the current use of urban heat maps and models in communities in Arizona and New Mexico and evaluating best practices and opportunities to increase their usability. Partner communities included the City of Avondale, AZ; City of Buckeye, AZ; Doña Ana County, NM; and the City of Santa Fe, NM. [more information]

Assessing Policy Innovation: Climate Action Planning in the U.S. Southwest

The goal of this research is to document how cities in the Southwest are innovating climate action planning through the content analysis of general plans and interviews with planners in six case study cities in Arizona and New Mexico. [more information]