The 2016 Summer research program was designed to support research that integrates one of the Global Forum’s thematic areas – Financial Resilience, Socio-Political Dimensions of Resilience, “Resilience Machines”, or Resilient Infrastructure with one or more of the Virginia Tech Destination Areas. Research outcomes were presented at a formal symposium hosted by the Global Forum in the October of 2016. The presentations can be accessed below:

  • (01) Towards better estimates of population heat exposure using MODIS data in combination with synthetic populations

     

    Towards better estimates of population heat exposure using MODIS data in combination with synthetic populations

     

    Principal Investigator (PI) - Samarth Swarup, Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory, Biocomplexity Institute

    Co-PI - Julia Gohlke , Department of Population Health

     

    Sciences, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine

     

    Climate change is increasing the number of days of extreme heat. Extreme heat events have become more frequent and intense and heat waves everywhere in the U.S. are projected to become more intense. Exposure to extreme heat is associated with earlier death, increased hospitalizations, and adverse birth outcomes including preterm birth. However, estimating population heat exposure is difficult, since it requires providing people with sensors, which can be expensive to scale and hard to manage.

     

    This summer project will train an undergraduate student to work with synthetic population data and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data to create estimates of population heat exposure and compare with earlier results using the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS) data.

     

    This work will integrate the Forum’s theme on Socio-political Dimensions of Resilience with multiple destination areas: Resilient Earth Systems, Intelligent Infrastructure and Human-centered Communities, and Data and Decision Sciences.

  • (02) Smart, Sustainable, Small Cities (a partnership between Virginia Tech and Hollins University)

     

    Smart, Sustainable, Small Cities (a partnership between Virginia Tech and Hollins University)

     

    Principal Investigator – Margaret Cowell, Urban Affairs and Planning, School of Public and International Affairs

    Co-PI Jon Bohland, Global Politics & Societies (Hollins University)

     

    Summer funding from GFURR will support research and development efforts for an emerging initiative called, “Smart, Sustainable, Small Cities.” The collaboration leverages the expertise of partners at Virginia Tech and Hollins University who are engaging in scholarship, outreach, and teaching focused on how small cities become more resilient and sustainable over the next two decades. Initial efforts will be focused on Roanoke, Virginia, given Virginia Tech’s close proximity and Hollins’s presence in the city. Expansion to other smaller cities is planned. During the summer of 2016 we will develop a new interdisciplinary course and lay the groundwork for this collaboration in the longer term. The course will consist of a co-lead, cross campus, undergraduate studio that focuses on the unique needs and opportunities of smaller cities. The experience is designed to provide a sheltered work experience for advanced students, actionable solutions for the community partners with whom the students work, and opportunities to better understand small city lives by integrating story telling, personal narratives and visual media. Future efforts will build upon findings from the annual studio to grow the collaboration into a Living Laboratory and a national focal point for research, outreach and education on small cities.

  • (03) Developing A Decision Support System for Coastal Resiliency Using a GeoDesign Framework

     

    Developing A Decision Support System for Coastal Resiliency Using a GeoDesign Framework

     

    Principal Investigator - Mintai Kim – Virginia Tech Landscape Architecture, School of Architecture and Design

     

    Sea level changes have already affected many coastal places ranging from villages in Louisiana, to metro areas like Miami and Virginia Beach. As these places are experiencing more frequent flooding and storm surges, they cannot be sustained as now. Understanding that the standard sustainability discussions will not help solve the problems related to global climate changes, organizations from the UN to states and cities are discussing resilience and moving beyond sustainability.

     

    To move discussions and actions beyond sustainability to resilience, policy makers, planners, designers and the public need to better understand what environmental challenges they are facing. This research proposes to construct a Decision Support System (DSS). The DSS will be utilizing a GeoDesign framework which facilitates collaboration among parties of various expertise, experiences and interests. Using the web-based DSS, users collaboratively will be able to visualize the current state of environments, impacts of varying sea level rises, and impacts of human responses presented with various scenarios. This DSS will empower the parties to move forward to make resilient policies, plans and design decisions. If successful, the DSS can probably be adapted for other communities needing resilience.

     

    This research relates to the areas of Resilient Earth Systems and Intelligent Infrastructure and Human-Centered Communities.

  • (04) Financial Resilience of the US Mortgage Markets: The Network Approach

     

    Financial Resilience of the US Mortgage Markets: The Network Approach

     

    Principal Investigator - Kwok PingTsang, Department of Economics – College of Science

    Co-PI’s - Eric Bahel, Department of Economics, College of Science, and Sudipta Sarangi, Department of Economics, College of Science

     

    Themes: Urbanization, Financial Resilience Destination areas: Data, and Decision Sciences, Integrated Security

     

    The Great Recession that started in 2008 has motivated a large amount of research on the relationship between financial markets and the overall economy. In particular, some researchers have examined the network structure of the complex and interconnected economy. In this project, we model the primary US mortgage market as a network of financial institutions and households in different regions. First, we describe how this network has evolved from 2005 to 2014. In particular, we look at how the origin, volume, quality and other characteristics of mortgage loans are distributed throughout the nation. We then match the loan data with regional income, employment data and foreclosure data to test if network structures are related to the performance of regional housing markets. Finally, we formulate a network model with optimizing households and financial institutions to account for our findings and conduct counterfactual analysis. Our work has crucial implications for financial resilience in the US mortgage market, and it is the first step towards preventing another costly housing crisis."

  • (05) Quantifying Natural Disasters' Impact on Neighborhood Transition

    Quantifying Natural Disasters' Impact on Neighborhood Transition

     

    Principal Investigators - Chris Zobel, RB Pamplin Professor of Business Information Technology & Yang Zhang, Urban Affairs

    and Planning, School of Public and International Affairs

     

    As the risk and cost of disasters within our global society continues to rise, socioeconomic factors are playing an increasingly significant role in shaping how losses, humanitarian assistance, and recovery capabilities are distributed among victims in impacted areas. Neighborhoods, as an intermediate social and spatial unit, are at the heart of the social cohesion and economic stability of a community. Most research to date on neighborhood transition has focused either on the policies that have structurally isolated minorities within poor and underinvested communities, or on the uneven impact of the globalized economy. Little has been done to establish a connection between disasters and localized changes that are taking place across U.S. cities. To address this gap, this project focuses on studying the impacts of natural disasters on neighborhood transition in New York City through three complementary lenses: that of changing housing and demographics characteristics in neighborhoods, and that of municipal service provision to those neighborhoods. Its goal is to better understand neighborhood resilience and to support adaptive planning for building disaster resilient, sustained, and just communities.

  • (06) Tiny Home Communities: Potential Incubators for a Sustainable and Resilient Society

     

    Tiny Home Communities: Potential Incubators for a Sustainable and Resilient Society

     

    Principal Investigator - Annie R. Pearce – Department of Building Construction, Myers-Lawson School of Construction

     

    Tiny homes are small residences of 400 square feet or less that are growing in popularity due to a desire to support more sustainable lifestyles, live debt-free or minimalist, or live in a home of one’s own creation. While some see promise in the tiny home approach as a way to develop new types of affordable housing solutions, others question what makes them different from other types of housing that have had undesirable social and health consequences such as FEMA trailers or mobile homes.

     

    This exploratory field study will investigate the social, economic, and physical characteristics of tiny home communities in comparison to communities of analogous housing types as a baseline. The aim to evaluate whether tiny homes have potential sustainability and resilience advantages that could lead to new approaches for affordable housing and disaster response. Existing tiny home communities in three regions of the United States will be profiled, along with comparison communities of analogous structure in the same areas. The expected outcome of this study is a series of case studies focusing on the social, economic, and physical infrastructure of tiny home and comparison communities, along with success metrics for each case to capture community sustainability and resilience.

 

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