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People living in cities in all regions of the world are experiencing increases in extreme events like floods and heat waves. Urban decision makers need help to develop ways to meet this challenge that are based in scientific understanding. This International Research Experience for Students (IRES) grant is linked to the Urban Resilience to Extremes (UREx) Sustainability Research Network (SRN). The grant will support three graduate students and one undergraduate student each year for ten weeks work in Valdivia, Chile (2017); Hermosillo, Mexico (2018); and in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (2019). A total of nine UREx IRES graduate students will be trained over three years, broadening their skills in collaboration, transdisciplinary research methods, and in mentoring. They will gain appreciation for the unique challenges of Latin American cities, while benefiting from the opportunity to participate in research that is directly used by decision makers, and receive training and experience in workshop facilitation with local decision-makers and communities. Three UREx IRES undergraduate students will also gain research experience in a foreign country, learn about the process of science through not only conducting their own research project but working closely with graduate students conducting research, and gain skills in research design, data analysis and management, and presentation. This experience will help all of these students learn to work across diverse social and political cultures so that they might be more effective. The students who participate in this program will share their experiences with others in the UREx program through a reading group, blogs, and social media and at a capstone symposium to be organized in 2020 by UREx fellows.

Cities are highly vulnerable to extreme, weather-related events, given their location along coastlines and in drylands. As urbanization continues as the main demographic trend worldwide, an ever-greater proportion of the population is exposed to hazard. Little research has been done on Latin American cities, where strategies to enhance their resilience in the face of such events may differ from US cities owing to cultural, political, or biophysical differences. The UREx SRN is a multi-city network of scientists and local practitioners, including Latin American cities, which studies, envisions, and develops innovative solutions to the challenges of these extreme events. Linked to the UREx SRN, the UREx IRES program will train students in working across cultures and disciplines and with local decision-makers. Mentors at the host institutions are collaborators in the UREx SRN and are conducting urban resilience research in these cities. The UREx IRES will afford opportunities for nine UREx fellows to expand their dissertation research into these Latin American cities, enabling projects that can be used to compare resilient solutions between US and Latin American cities. Three UREx IRES undergraduates will be selected to work on research projects in close collaboration with the graduate students, supervised by host mentors. The students' creativity is emphasized: as part of the UREx SRN they will have had experience with interdisciplinary research, training on Latin American cities, and will write a short research proposal that explains how their IRES project will integrate with their dissertation research and contribute to the overall knowledge-to-action efforts in the host city. UREx IRES fellows will be conducting transdisciplinary research with practitioners and host mentors that will advance basic scientific understanding of the characteristics of urban areas in general and infrastructure in particular that will lead to more resilient, and ultimately sustainable, cities in the future.



National Science Foundation, Office of Internatinoal Science and Engineering


June 2017 — May 2020