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Sustainability scientist Nancy Grimm wins fellowship

ASU Wrigley Institute News CAP LTER News UREx News

March 8, 2019

Nancy Grimm working in the fieldSenior Sustainability Scientist Nancy Grimm, the Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Ecology in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University, was named a 2019 Fellow of the Society of Freshwater Science in honor of her outstanding contributions to stream and watershed science.

According to Grimm's biography on the Society of Freshwater Science fellows site, "Grimm studies urban and stream ecosystems. Initially working on stream nitrogen dynamics, she expanded out and down to riparian and hyporheic zones and then abruptly became an urban ecologist."

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Phoenix adapts to extreme heat

UREx Podcast

March 1, 2019

UREx Podcast LogoExtreme heat and how to cope with it are two major areas of interest in cities like Phoenix, Arizona. Recently, Maricopa County (where Phoenix is) partnered with a group of researchers at ASU to develop new technologies and solutions that are deployable in local communities to help reduce urban heat and improve air quality. This partnership illustrates that extreme heat and its adverse impacts on human health are highly important not only to researchers, but also to those responsible for implementing adaptation strategies. This month, Dr. Yeowon Kim interviews Mark Hartman, the Chief Sustainability Officer at City of Phoenix, Melissa Guardaro, a graduate fellow of UREx SRN, and Charles (Chuck) Redman, the founding director of School of Sustainability at Arizona State University and project director of UREx SRN, about their collaborative efforts on mitigating and adapting to adverse impacts of extreme heat in the metro urban area of Phoenix, Arizona.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, e-mail us at or find us on Twitter @FutureCitiesPod. Learn more about the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) at

Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Buzzsprout.

Future cities episode 17: Perceptions of Heat and thermal comfort

UREx Podcast

February 1, 2019

UREx Podcast LogoThis month, Stephen Elser interviews UREx SRN fellow and ASU School of Sustainability PhD student, Yuliya Dzyuban, about her research involving extreme heat and the ways that people perceive and cope with that heat. They discuss the different aspects that affect one's thermal comfort, Ukrainian bus stops, and how there's a lot we can do to improve  urban design in Phoenix. Yuliya shares her research illustrating that integrating artistic elements into bus stops can actually make people feel cooler than they would in a bus stop with no such elements. Finally, Yuliya becomes a poet and shares with us a beautiful haiku describing her research.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, e-mail us at or find us on Twitter @FutureCitiesPod. Learn more about the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) at

Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Buzzsprout.

Future cities episode 16: Safe-to-fail adaptation

UREx Podcast

December 1, 2018

UREx Podcast LogoIn this episode, Dr. Yeowon Kim explains the difference between “fail-safe” and “safe-to-fail” infrastructure and how shifting towards this new “safe-to-fail" design paradigm could help cities prepare for extreme events like floods. Risks and uncertainty associated with climate change in the future make predicting infrastructure failures very difficult, so designing and implementing infrastructure to be more flexible in the face of uncertainty is highly important to deal with a wide variety of circumstances. Dr. Kim also talks about the “infrastructure trolley problem” and gives us a brief lesson on Korean poetry! If you have questions about Dr. Kim’s research, you can e-mail her at

The paper we discuss, entitled "Fail-safe and safe-to-fail adaptation: decision-making for urban flooding under climate change" was published in 2017 in the journal of Climatic Change.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, e-mail us at or find us on Twitter @FutureCitiesPod. Learn more about the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) at

Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Buzzsprout.

Sustainability graduate aims to change transportation sector

School of Sustainability News Alumni and Student Spotlights UREx Blog

November 28, 2018

Man wearing blazer standing and smiling in front of wall of foliageIf it weren’t for the computer simulation game SimCity, Sean McElroy might never have discovered his passion for sustainable cities. As a high school student, McElroy designed a modern city using the game for a required personal project for the International Baccalaureate program.

“A lot of the research that I did was on future cities, which often brought up sustainability,” McElroy said. “I thought that the topic of sustainable cities and development sounded really interesting, and once I heard about it being a major it was an easy decision for me to choose it.”

This December, McElroy is graduating from Arizona State University with a bachelor in sustainability from the School of Sustainability and a minor in urban planning from the School of Geographical Science and Urban Planning. During his time at ASU, McElroy has taken on leadership positions with the School of Sustainability Academy and the Honor Society for Sustainability. He also completed an internship with the Street Transportation Department at the City of Phoenix, and was a research aide working with ASU’s Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network.

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Future Cities podcast episode 15: Resilience for Citizens Who Are Undocumented

UREx Podcast

November 3, 2018

UREx Podcast LogoThe proposed addition to the US census of a question regarding the legal status of census respondents poses a major problem for both vulnerability researchers and the vulnerable undocumented immigrant community. Vulnerability scholar and PhD student, Jason Sauer, discusses how the change to the census may interfere with efforts to identify vulnerable communities, and may stymie efforts to make these undocumented communities more resilient to extreme weather events and climate change. He also interviews Masavi Parea of Chispa, an organization advocating for resilience and environmental justice in Phoenix, about his own history as a formerly undocumented immigrant, the ways the undocumented community and Latinos are systematically made vulnerable, and what organizations like Chispa are doing to increase community resilience.


Future Cities podcast episode 14: Resilience in Infrastructure

UREx Podcast

October 1, 2018

UREx Podcast LogoIn this episode, UREx postdoctoral researcher, Sam Markolf, interviews Dr. Dan Eisenberg about resilience from an engineering perspective. When is being more robust the solution? When is flexibility preferred? Dan shares stories to illustrate when it may be advantageous to abandon standards of practice, how to deal with different types of surprises, and the differences between robust design and extensible design. They discuss the importance of designing infrastructure with human-technological interactions in mind.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, e-mail us at or find us on Twitter @FutureCitiesPod.

Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Buzzsprout.


Future Cities podcast episode 13: Flash Floods in Baltimore

UREx Podcast

September 4, 2018

UREx Podcast LogoUREx post-docs Bernice Rosenzweig and Marissa Matsler report from on-the-ground in Baltimore. Looking to learn more about how the Memorial Day Weekend extreme rain event affected he city, they interviewed Pastor Michael S. Martin of the Stillmeadow Evangelical Free Church, an emergency response hub in a community that was severely flooded. Hear about the emergency response and continuing concerns of those living the aftermath and remediation of the Memorial Day Weekend flood, along with discussion of overlaps with UREx research. See footage of the flood here: Baltimore City Frederick Ave Flash Flooding and learn more about Team Rubicon, a veterans group that plays a critical role in the response to extreme events. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, e-mail us at or find us on Twitter @FutureCitiesPod.

Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Buzzsprout.


K-12 Outreach and UREx SRN

UREx Blog

August 20, 2018

The URExSRN is a research network of almost 300 practitioners, researchers, students, and postdoctoral fellows working to integrate social, ecological, and technical systems toward the support of urban infrastructure in the midst of climate uncertainties. Network cities and partners participate and share in current research with early learning communities by providing relevant network learnings through K-12 outreach and professional development programs.

Two UREx members have embraced engaging future scientists by providing science curriculum relevant to the UREx mission through programs offered at Arizona State University. Read the exciting, first-hand experiences of graduate fellow, Stephen Elser and research collaborator, Amalia Handler:

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Science Outside the Lab summer program convenes in nation's capital

ASU Wrigley Institute News UREx News

August 1, 2018

Several students stand under a globeWho does the United States public trust to help in its efforts to become more resilient to extreme weather events and climate change? A 2016 Pew Research Center survey revealed that 76 percent of citizens trust scientists “a great deal” or “a fair amount” to act in the public’s best interests, but only 27 percent report the same degrees of trust for their politicians and elected officials. Given these percentages, how does the public feel about the hybrid workers in government: the scientist civil servants staffing the federal agencies run by political appointees?

Since the civilian workforce of the federal government makes up over 99.7 percent of the total staff, leaving very few positions to be filled by political appointment, it turns out that the actual “doing” part of resilience policy and science is largely left to scientist civil servants. Who are these scientist civil servants, then? How do they straddle the line between resilience policy and science? And how does the public feel about what they do?

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UREx Science Outside the Lab (SOtL) – Summer 2018

UREx Blog

July 27, 2018

UREx-SOtL-Students-Summer-2018 Image[mensaje en español sigue]

Who does the United States public trust to help in its efforts to become more resilient to extreme weather events and climate change? A 2016 Pew Research Center, survey revealed that 76% of citizens trust scientists “a great deal” or “a fair amount” to act in the public’s best interests, but only 27% report the same degrees of trust for their politicians and elected officials. Given these percentages, I wonder how the public feels about the hybrid workers in government: the scientist civil servants staffing the federal agencies run by political appointees. Since the civilian workforce of the federal government makes up over 99.7% of the total staff, leaving proportionally very few positions to be filled by political appointment, it turns out that the actual “doing” part of resilience policy and science is largely left to scientist civil servants. Who are these scientist civil servants, then? How do they straddle the line between resilience policy and science? And how would the public feel about what they do?

For one week in June of 2018, UREx SRN students convened at ASU’s Barrett and O’Connor Center to meet with some of these scientist civil servants, as well as with scientists working for the non-profit sector, as part of ASU’s Science Outside the Laboratory program on resilience policy and science. There, at the Center and at D.C. government agency buildings, SOtL program director Dr. Jennifer Brian and Dr. Matthew Harsh, as well as former program director Ira Bennett, arranged roundtable discussions about the duties involved in federal science positions, federal policies for building resilience to extreme weather events and climate change, and efforts toward developing trust and collaboration with the American public on these issues.

Students met early on with Advance Science Staff Lead, Dr. Jennifer Saleem Arrigo, at the US Global Change Research Program (GCRP), which is the charged with publishing the quadrennial National Climate Assessment. Students also met with the Director and Assistant Director of the Natural Resources and Environment Department, Frank Rusco and Joe Thompson respectively, at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which ensures the government is fulfilling its mandated duties like producing the Assessment. These civil servants talked about the importance of the Assessment for communicating to both policymakers and the public on consensus science on the threat and effects of climate change, even as receptiveness to this information has changed in recent years. Responses to student questions regarding speakers’ feelings on the impactfulness of their work, including changes in receptiveness, where emphasized as the normal ebb and flow of politics. The speakers viewed much of what they do as preparation for the opening of political windows of opportunity: that is, for the times when the public or congressional attention and will for action suddenly swell and crest, and it becomes possible to carry forward climate change resilience actions. I was impressed by how these scientists, with long careers in academia or in climate research, had become politically savvy in their roles without diluting the quality of their research or diverting from its intended purpose.

Students also met with scientists and an art director about the importance of visualization and interactivity for communicating the need for resilience strategies. Claudia Nierenberg and Stephen Zepecki spoke to us about NOAA’s role as both researchers as well as communicators to the public and political figures. Students were given a demonstration of the Science on the Sphere demonstration tool: a globe upon which model and satellite data can be projected, demonstrating to viewers various planetary processes ranging from atmospheric warming over the past century, hurricane formation and landfall events, and changes in oceanic currents. Nierenberg and Zepecki described the Sphere as being a particularly impactful tool for communicating the findings of NOAA, and for how our own resilience concerns in the US have parallels and connections to nations across the planet.

In a separate event at the National Building Museum, Curator Chrysanthe Broikos and students engaged in a discussion over a recent exhibit, Designing for Disaster. The exhibit exposed attendees in both the effects of natural disasters like wildfires and flooding, in the forms of faux-burned and faux-flood-damaged exhibit spaces. It also showed the effects of disaster resilience policy, in the forms of future building and infrastructure design. These forms of communication impressed me with literal flatness of much of the work that I do: most of it will be communicated via paper or screen, but might have more impact by the use of other mediums, in terms of quality and quantity. Also, seeing the connection between disaster effects, resilience policy, and design effects gave me some trust in the good intention of the scientists and agencies that pushed for policy change.

We also held roundtables with scientists involved in policy work in the non-governmental organization (NGO) world, discussing the ways that they partner with communities and sub-federal government to increase community resilience. Genevieve Maricle, the Global Knowledge and Innovation Lead at the World Wildlife Fund spoke about how cities and communities both in the US and abroad are mobilizing to implement the Paris Climate Agreement goals and UN Sustainable Development Goals in the absence of federal support. Jorge Ramos, manager of Conservation International’s Climate and Ocean division, spoke about work done on mangrove conservation partnerships with communities, and how such localized work can even be the ideal form of resilience work, both with and without the presence of federal support. Indeed, many students within the UREx SRN are involved in research that can increase the effectiveness and equity involved in community resilience efforts. With low trust in politics and federal agencies, and inconsistent financial support or vision from the elected heads of these groups, partnerships between concerned communities and NGO scientists that can support the technical and financial aspects of achieving their goals are increasingly necessary.

This post represents only a few of the great discussions and ideas that arose from this year’s Science Outside the Lab program. Additional speakers came from the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes (CSPO); the American Meteorological Society; the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FEMA), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). In a closing feedback session, students offered that they were impressed with the genuine sense of duty that these scientist civil servants felt toward communication and community outreach in their work. My own strongest impression was how these scientists all strove in good faith to fulfill the obligations of their positions, regardless of pushback or frustration some felt during this and previous stages of the political cycle. Further, we all felt inspired seeing the results of the scientific research we do that is being translated into policy and action, and we came away with the understanding that as either future unaffiliated scientists or civil servants enacting science policy, we will have an impactful role to play in making more resilient communities, cities, and nations.

by Jason Sauer

Teaching Assistant, SOtL UREx


UREx La ciencia afuera del laboratorio (SOtL) - Verano de 2018

¿En quién confía el público de Estados Unidos para ayudar en los esfuerzos para ser más resilientes a los fenómenos meteorológicos extremos y al cambio climático? Una encuesta del Centro de Investigación Pew en 2016 reveló que el 76% de los ciudadanos confían “mucho" o "regular" en que los científicos actúan en beneficio del público, pero solo el 27% reporta los mismos grados de confianza en sus políticos y funcionarios electos. Dados estos porcentajes, me pregunto cómo se siente el público acerca de los trabajadores híbridos en el gobierno: los científicos que trabajan como funcionarios en las agencias federales dirigidas por personas designadas por razones políticas. Dado que la fuerza laboral civil del gobierno federal representa más del 99.7% de la planilla total, dejando proporcionalmente muy pocos puestos a cubrir con designaciones políticas, resulta que la parte real de “ejecutar” relacionada con la política de la resiliencia y la ciencia queda en gran medida en manos de funcionarios científicos. ¿Quiénes son estos funcionarios científicos, entonces? ¿Cómo caminan la línea media entre la política de resiliencia y la ciencia? ¿Y cómo se sentiría el público acerca de lo que hacen?

Durante una semana en junio de 2018, los estudiantes UREx SRN se reunieron en el Centro Barrett y O'Connor de ASU para conocer a algunos de estos científicos que trabajan como funcionarios públicos, y conocer también a científicos que trabajan para el sector sin fines de lucro, como parte del programa La ciencia afuera del laboratorio de ASU que trata sobre la política de resiliencia y la ciencia. Allí, en el Centro y en los edificios de las agencias gubernamentales de D.C., la directora del programa de SOtL, la Dra. Jennifer Brian y el Dr. Matthew Harsh, así como el ex director del programa Ira Bennett, organizaron mesas redondas sobre los deberes relacionados con las posiciones científicas en el gobierno federal y las políticas federales para la construcción de resiliencia ante eventos climáticos extremos y el cambio climático, y los esfuerzos para desarrollar confianza y colaboración del público estadounidense sobre estos temas.

Los estudiantes se reunieron con la Dra. Jennifer Saleem Arrigo, Líder del Personal de Ciencias Avanzadas del Programa de Investigación en Cambio Global (GCRP), que está a cargo de la publicación de la Evaluación Nacional Climática cuadrienal. Los estudiantes también se reunieron con el Director y Subdirector del Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Medio Ambiente, Frank Rusco y Joe Thompson, respectivamente, en la Oficina de Rendición de Cuentas Gubernamentales (GAO), que garantiza que el gobierno esté cumpliendo con sus deberes obligatorios, como generar la Evaluación. Estos funcionarios hablaron sobre la importancia de la Evaluación para comunicar a los legisladores y al público sobre la ciencia consensuada en torno a la amenaza y los efectos del cambio climático, incluso a pesar de que la receptividad a esta información ha cambiado en los últimos años. Respuestas a las preguntas de los estudiantes sobre la opinión de los oradores en torno al impacto de su trabajo, incluidos los cambios en la receptividad, fueron enfatizados frente al vaivén normal político. Los oradores vieron gran parte de lo que hacen como una preparación para la apertura de ventanas de oportunidad política: es decir, para los momentos en que la atención y la voluntad públicas o del Congreso se intensifiquen repentinamente y sea posible llevar adelante acciones para lograr resiliencia al cambio climático. Me impresionó cómo estos científicos, con largas carreras académicas o de investigación climática, se han vuelto políticamente hábiles en sus roles sin diluir la calidad de su investigación y sin desviarse de sus propósitos previstos.

Los estudiantes también se reunieron con científicos y un director de arte para hablar sobre la importancia de la visualización y la interactividad para comunicar la necesidad de estrategias de resiliencia. Claudia Nierenberg y Stephen Zepecki nos hablaron sobre el papel de NOAA como investigadores y comunicadores ante el público y las figuras políticas. Los estudiantes recibieron una demostración de la herramienta de demostración Ciencia en la Esfera: un globo sobre el cual se pueden proyectar datos satelitales y de modelación, mostrando a los espectadores diversos procesos planetarios que van desde el calentamiento atmosférico durante el siglo pasado, la formación de huracanes y el efecto al tocar tierra, y cambios en las corrientes oceánicas. Ellos también describieron la Esfera como una herramienta particularmente impactante para comunicar los hallazgos de NOAA, y la forma cómo nuestras propias preocupaciones de resiliencia en Estados Unidos tienen paralelismos y conexiones con las naciones de todo el planeta.

En un evento separado en el Edificio del Museo Nacional, la curadora Chrysanthe Broikos y los estudiantes participaron en una discusión sobre una exhibición reciente, Diseñando para Desastres. La exhibición expuso a los asistentes tanto los efectos de los desastres naturales como los incendios forestales y las inundaciones, en forma de espacios de exhibición simulando estar quemados o inundados. También mostró los efectos de la política de resiliencia ante desastres, en la forma de diseños futuros de construcción e infraestructura. Estas formas de comunicación me impresionaron por el carácter plano de gran parte del trabajo que hago: la mayor parte se comunica a través de papel o pantalla, pero podría tener más impacto con el uso de otros medios, en términos de calidad y cantidad. Además, al ver la conexión entre los efectos de los desastres, la política de resiliencia y los efectos del diseño, pude confiar en la buena intención de los científicos y las agencias que impulsan el cambio de políticas.

También realizamos mesas redondas con científicos involucrados en el trabajo de políticas en el mundo de las organizaciones no gubernamentales (ONG), discutiendo las formas en que se asocian con las comunidades y el gobierno sub federal para aumentar la resiliencia de la comunidad. Genevieve Maricle, Líder de Conocimiento e Innovación Global en World Wildlife Fund habló sobre cómo las ciudades y comunidades tanto en los Estados Unidos como en el exterior se están movilizando para implementar los objetivos del Acuerdo Climático de Paris y los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sustentable de la ONU en ausencia de apoyo federal. Jorge Ramos, gerente de la División de Clima y Océanos de Conservation International, habló sobre el trabajo realizado con alianza con las comunidades para la conservación de manglares, y cómo ese trabajo localizado puede ser la forma ideal de trabajo de resiliencia, con y sin la presencia de apoyo federal. De hecho, muchos estudiantes dentro de UREx SRN están involucrados en investigaciones que pueden aumentar la efectividad y la equidad involucradas en los esfuerzos de resiliencia comunitaria. Con poca confianza en la política y las agencias federales, y ante el inconsistente apoyo financiero o de visión de los líderes electos de estos grupos, cada vez son más necesarias las alianzas entre comunidades interesadas y científicos de las ONG que pueden apoyar los aspectos técnicos y financieros para alcanzar las metas.

Esta publicación representa solo algunas de las grandes discusiones e ideas que surgieron del programa de La Ciencia afuera del laboratorio este año. Otros oradores adicionales representaron a organizaciones como el Consorcio para Ciencia, Política y Resultados (CSPO); la Sociedad Meteorológica de Estados Unidos; la Administración Federal de Seguros y Mitigación (FEMA), y el Sondeo Geológico de Estados Unidos (USGS). En una sesión de retroalimentación de cierre, los estudiantes dijeron que estaban impresionados con el sentido genuino del deber que estos funcionarios científicos sentían con respecto a la comunicación y la extensión comunitaria en su trabajo. Mi impresión más fuerte fue cómo todos estos científicos se esfuerzan de buena fe para cumplir con las obligaciones de sus posiciones, independientemente del retroceso o la frustración que algunos han sentido durante esta y las etapas anteriores del ciclo político. Además, todos nos sentimos inspirados por los resultados de las investigaciones científicas que hacemos y verlos traducidos en políticas y acciones, y llegamos a la conclusión de que, ya sea como futuros científicos no afiliados o funcionarios públicos promulgando políticas científicas, tendremos una función impactante para lograr comunidades, ciudades y naciones más resilientes.

por Jason Sauer

Profesor Asistente, SOtL UREx

Future Cities podcast episode 12: Green Stormwater Management Across Three U.S. Cities

UREx Podcast

July 1, 2018

UREx Podcast LogoIn this episode, Stephen Elser sits down with Drs. Lauren McPhillips and Marissa Matsler to talk about their recent paper published in Frontiers in Built Environment entitled "Temporal Evolution of Green Stormwater Infrastructure Strategies in Three US Cities." We discuss the history of stormwater management in the U.S. and the rise of "green stormwater infrastructure" as a popular solution in cities across the country. The three cities compared here (Baltimore, Phoenix, and Portland) are vastly different from each other in terms of their history, culture, climate, and many other factors, which has led to unique patterns in their implementation of green stormwater infrastructure. Understanding these patterns of implementation allows us to better understand the suite of benefits that these features provide. We also hear haiku summaries of the paper!

If you have any questions about what you heard or have suggestions for future episodes, please e-mail us or find us on Twitter.

Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Buzzsprout.


Future Cities podcast episode 11: Paradigmas Insostenibles en Nuestras Ciudades

UREx Podcast

June 20, 2018

UREx Podcast Logo¿Te has preguntado si la ciudad en la que vives es realmente sustentable?, ¿Que tipo de paradigmas amenazan la resiliencia de nuestras ciudades a condiciones futuras?, ¿Podremos seguir aplicando las mismas filosofías de crecimiento y desarrollo en nuestras ciudades? En este programa el Profesor David Manuel Navarrete nos comenta sobre algunos puntos de reflexión acerca de la conceptualización de nuestras ciudades y viejos paradigmas ponen en riesgo elementos esenciales de una buena calidad de vida en ciudades y prevalencia de su equilibrio ante eventos extremos de clima. Nuevas maneras de pensar son necesarias para afrontar retos en nuestras ciudades.

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Future Cities podcast episode 10 - Eventos extremos

UREx Podcast

June 1, 2018

UREx Podcast Logo¿Que son los eventos climáticos extremos?, el Dr. Agustín Robles, líder académico de la ciudad de Hermosillo en la Red de Resiliencia Urbana a Eventos Extremos (UREx) nos explica que son estos y por que es importante estudiarlos.

También en este episodio la Dra. Olga Barbosa nos explica que tipo de acciones y proyectos se llevan acabo en la red y como es que esta contribuye a mejorar nuestras ciudades. Pon mucha atención tal vez tu recuerdes tu experiencia durante un evento extremo como lo hace una profesionista, Fernanda Rodgriguez de Ciudad Obregón Sonora.

Si tiene preguntas o sugerencias para episodios futuros, envíenos un correo electrónico a o encuéntrenos en Twitter @FutureCitiesPod.

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UREx researchers reflect on positive visions for the future

UREx Blog

April 21, 2018

Positive Visions ImageOver the past year, it has become even more apparent that climate change is not some future event, but rather, something we are currently experiencing.  This has been demonstrated by yet another year of record temperatures and extreme weather events.

As UREx SRN researchers, Marta Berbés-Blázquez, David Iwaniec, Nancy Grimm, and Timon McPhearson, stated in their article on The Nature of Cities, the UREx SRN emerged out of the need for cities to become more resilient and adapt to our current climate.  This blog entry reflects on the scenarios workshops, an important aspect of the project, which encourages out-of-the-box thinking while addressing immediate and future challenges.


Future Cities podcast episode 8: Poems for resilient and equitable cities

UREx Podcast

April 6, 2018

UREx Podcast LogoIn this special episode of the Future Cities podcast, a new type of knowledge is provided related to resilience. At the annual UREx SRN All Hands Meeting meeting held in late March, local Phoenix poets including Kimberly Koerth, Jacob Friedman, Rashaad Thomas, and Anna Flores read original poetry about Resilience, Equity, and Diversity (RED) in cities as part of the UREx La RED Poetry Event. The first half of the episode features the poems, the poets' inspirations, and what the poets hoped the audience would take away by listening to it. The second half of the episode features a discussion with several of the poets on the power of poetry as a tool for making our cities more resilient and equitable places to live.

If you have any questions about what you heard or have suggestions for future episodes, please e-mail us or find us on Twitter.

Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, or Buzzsprout.


Future Cities podcast episode 7: Wetlands as green infrastructure

UREx Podcast

March 1, 2018

UREx Podcast LogoWhat is ‘green’ infrastructure? What can it do for my city? Why am I definitely way more excited to learn about it than I am more traditional forms of infrastructure? Stephen Elser and Jason Sauer answer all of these questions in this episode, and focus on green infrastructure in the form of wetlands in the city of Valdivia, Chile.

They talk to local sustainability consortium leader Cristóbal Lamarca of Activa Valdivia and local wetlands researcher Ignacio Rodríguez of the Centro de Humedales Río Cruces (translated: the Río Cruces Center of Wetlands) about how the wetlands imbue Valdivia with a unique urban character, increase the city’s biodiversity, provide recreational space, and are a form of infrastructure that people rally around.

If you're on Twitter, follow Activa Valdivia and Centro de Humedales Río Cruces.

If you have questions or suggestions for future episodes,  e-mail us or find us on Twitter.

Listen on iTunes , Stitcher or Buzzsprout.


UREx-design pilot results in a collaborative model / Resultados del proyecto piloto de diseño de UREx en un modelo de colaboración

UREx Blog

February 19, 2018

Urban Design Blog Image

Project Name: Environments Unite; Team: Spencer Lujan, Tylor Kerpan, and Brennan Ertl

Society needs better integration between what our city is or will be (science) with visions of what our city should be (design). Integrating these two elements is no easy task. Disconnects between science and design can lead to catastrophic infrastructure failures; as we’ve seen too many time this year with recent examples such as Hurricane Harvey in Houston. Part of the way we can move toward this integration goal is through co-design processes where we can learn and design together. Aligning researchers, who need more nuanced visions of urban futures, with design students, external partners, and residents provides a promising path that creates more societally impactful design processes. This will ultimately create a more socially-responsive and resilient infrastructure.

For urban resilience to extremes, these design processes may help us unearth more complete knowledge from diverse participants, and more importantly let us learn critical factors when designing cities for uncertainty together. We hope that this UREx-Design collaborative research-teaching-service pilot will provide meaningful feedback to inform future similar endeavors for UREx SRN, CAP LTER networks, and beyond. Design products from this course will serve as important inputs in the upcoming UREx SRN & CAP LTER participatory scenario workshops. Specifically, designs that feature adaptive reuse of public space, green infrastructure design and function, transportation alternatives, and urban form transformations will help stakeholders visualize and prioritize strategies they want to include in their scenarios. In addition, design students will be invited to participate in the actual workshop to sketch the visions that emerge from the table discussions.

Two PhD students working with the UREx, Melissa Davidson and Yuliya Dzyuban participated in the design course. Their final assignment for the course was a reflection piece on the process and what could be improved about the collaboration model. Yuliya noted, “Throughout the course of the semester it was evident that the interaction of sustainability students with the class has helped to raise awareness about sustainability, resilience and what it means to community. I have noticed that presentations and ideas that we shared during the semester were reflected in final students designs that evolved and became more sensitive to the community needs and to the unique project location.” While Melissa reflected on the challenges of such courses. “For me, the biggest challenge to this type of collaborative setting is time. Designers and interdisciplinary scholars spend time differently... This is not necessarily a negative; it just requires an acknowledgement that our presence in the course is more about quality of time rather than quantity of time… In addition to time constraints, the style of the course is a natural challenge. Most school of sustainability courses are between one and two and a half hours (at most) and are heavy on discussion. I really appreciated that we tried to incorporate this style of dialogue into the beginning of many Wednesday classes.”

Thinking about a pragmatic path forward for the UREx-Design collaboration model, Melissa suggested, “…it might be worth pitching a 3-credit course for non-design students who can play a stronger role in small groups. Rather than acting as a consultant, these students could help with things like project scoping and framing, research, storytelling, and generally provide a different perspective on the design process.” A second suggestion concerned the critical challenge of learning approaches to tackle social justice. Although students started the semester learning from a Latino climate justice organization and reading from social justice literature, for some students it was their first time confronting the issue. Yuliya recommended that, “[s]tudents need to improve understanding of social justice concepts and what it means in their work. It seemed that students who attempted to engage with communities on a more personal level, went for site visits several times, attended local festivities and coffee shops, and had a better understanding of the site and community. I suggest that students should be encouraged to attend community meetings and volunteer in the local events to gain better understanding of the local needs.“

Our intention is to keep pursuing a reflexive approach to this collaborative research-teaching-service model. Through URExSRN in collaboration with allied projects such as CAP LTER, we can create innovative models that not only advances our knowledge of resilience in urban systems, but also provides meaningful action pathways for society. Design can serve as that integrating process for society to match what cities are or will be (science) with visions of tomorrow (design).

-By Paul Coseo


La sociedad necesita una mejor integración entre lo que es o va ser nuestra ciudad (ciencia) con visiones en lo que nuestra ciudad debe ser (diseño).  Integrar estos dos elementos no es fácil.  Las desconexiones entre la ciencia y el diseño puede conducir a fallas catastróficas en la infraestructura; como lo hemos visto demasiadas veces este año con ejemplos recientes como el del Huracán Harvey en Houston.  Un modo que en el que podemos acercarnos a esta meta de integración es a través de procesos de co-diseño con los que podemos aprender y diseñar juntos.  Alinear investigadores, que necesitan visiones más matizadas de futuros urbanos, con estudiantes de diseño, participantes externos, y residentes proporciona un camino prometedor que crea procesos de diseño socialmente más impactantes.  Esto creará, en última instancia, una infraestructura más flexible y con más capacidad para adaptarse.

Para la resiliencia urbana a eventos extremos, estos procesos de diseño tal vez pueden ayudarnos a desenterrar un conocimiento más completo de diversos participantes, y lo que es más importante, nos permiten conocer los factores críticos al diseñar juntos ciudades con incertidumbre. Esperamos que este proyecto piloto colaborativo de investigación-enseñanza-servicio de UREx-Design brinde retroalimentación significativa para informar futuros esfuerzos similares para las redes de UREx SRNCAP LTER , y más allá. Los productos de diseño de este curso servirán como aportaciones importantes en los próximos talleres de escenarios participativos de UREx SRN y CAP LTER. Específicamente, los diseños que incluyen la reutilización adaptativa del espacio público, el diseño y la función de la infraestructura verde, las alternativas de transporte y las transformaciones de las formas urbanas ayudarán a los interesados ​​a visualizar y priorizar las estrategias que desean incluir en sus escenarios. Además, los estudiantes de diseño serán invitados a participar en el taller real para esbozar las visiones que surgen de las discusiones de la mesa.

Dos estudiantes de doctorado que trabajan con la UREx, Melissa Davidson y Yuliya Dzyuban participaron en el curso de diseño. Su tarea final para el curso fue una reflexión sobre el proceso y qué podría mejorarse sobre el modelo de colaboración. Yuliya señaló, "A lo largo del semestre fue evidente que la interacción de los estudiantes de sustentabilidad con la clase ha ayudado a crear conciencia sobre la sustentabilidad, la resiliencia y lo que ésta significa para la comunidad. Me di cuenta de que las presentaciones e ideas que compartimos durante el semestre se reflejaron en los diseños finales de los estudiantes que evolucionaron y se hicieron más sensibles a las necesidades de la comunidad y a la ubicación única del proyecto ". Por otro lado, Melissa reflexionó sobre los desafíos de dichos cursos. "Para mí, el mayor desafío para este tipo de entorno colaborativo es el tiempo. Los diseñadores y académicos interdisciplinarios pasan el tiempo de manera diferente ... Esto no es necesariamente negativo; solo requiere un reconocimiento de que nuestra presencia en el curso se trata más de la calidad del tiempo que de la cantidad de tiempo ... Además de las limitaciones de tiempo, el estilo del curso es un desafío natural. La mayoría de los cursos de sustentabilidad de la escuela duran entre una y dos horas y media (como máximo) e involucran una discusión abundante. Realmente aprecié que tratamos de incorporar este estilo de diálogo al comienzo de muchas clases de los miércoles”.

Pensando en un camino pragmático para el modelo de colaboración UREx-Design, Melissa sugirió que "... podría valer la pena ofrecer cursos de 3 créditos para estudiantes que no son de diseño y que pueden jugar un papel más fuerte en grupos pequeños. En lugar de actuar como un consultor, estos estudiantes podrían ayudar con aspectos como el alcance del proyecto y el encuadre, la investigación, la narración de cuentos y en general proporcionar una perspectiva diferente sobre el proceso de diseño." Una segunda sugerencia se refería al desafío crítico de aprender enfoques para abordar la justicia social. Aunque los estudiantes comenzaron el semestre aprendiendo de una organización latina de justicia climática y leyendo literatura acerca de la justicia social, para algunos estudiantes fue la primera vez que enfrentaron el problema. Yuliya recomendó que, "los estudiantes necesitan mejorar la comprensión de los conceptos de justicia social y lo que significan en su trabajo. Al parecer los estudiantes que intentaron involucrarse con las comunidades a un nivel más personal, las visitaron varias veces, asistieron a festividades locales y cafeterías, y tuvieron una mejor comprensión del sitio y la comunidad. Sugiero que se anime a los estudiantes a asistir a las reuniones comunitarias y ser voluntarios en los eventos locales para comprender mejor las necesidades locales."

Nuestra intención es seguir aplicando un enfoque reflexivo a este modelo colaborativo de investigación-enseñanza-servicio. A través de URExSRN en colaboración con proyectos aliados como CAP LTER, podemos crear modelos innovadores que no solo mejoren nuestro conocimiento de la resiliencia en los sistemas urbanos, sino que también proporcionen vías de acción significativas para la sociedad. El diseño puede servir como ese proceso integrador para la sociedad para que coincida con lo que las ciudades son o serán (ciencia) con las visiones del mañana (diseño).

-Por Paul Coseo