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Science & Technology - Society & Culture

Drexel Helps Set Climate Resilience Research Agenda for Philadelphia

July 9, 2021

City of Philadelphia skyline.

Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University has partnered with the City of Philadelphia, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) and other local organizations to create a new and unique collaboration to develop ways to make the Philadelphia region more climate resilient.

The Climate Resilience Research Agenda (CRRA) is convened by academic researchers from Drexel and the Academy of Natural Sciences as well as those with relevant community-based, sectoral, or policy-related experience from the City of Philadelphia, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and the Consortium for Climate Risks in the Urban Northeast. Four interdisciplinary working groups representing dozens of institutions, organizations, governmental agencies and private firms will work together this summer to both identify and understand the implications of climate change in the Greater Philadelphia area, and also develop solutions to minimize climate change risk and impact on its citizens. There are about 120 total people involved, split up between the four working groups. 

“The planning team behind the CRRA sought to develop a research agenda that would be informed by both lived experience and research experience,” says Korin Tangtrakul, one of the members of the CRRA planning committee and the sustainability manager of the Sustainable Water Resource Engineering Lab at Drexel.

To facilitate participation by marginally underrepresented individuals, the planning team has been awarded funding from the Second Nature Climate Solutions Acceleration Fund to provide stipends to participants who might not have otherwise been able to participate, including those from grassroots and non-profit organizations.

The creation of the CRRA helps to fulfill one of the University’s goals for Climate Year, a yearlong initiative to concentrate on climate and sustainability actions, developments, programming, education, research and community engagement throughout the University and the Academy. Drexel and Academy members involved with the CRRA will be engaged in developing climate-focused research opportunities that can fill knowledge gaps currently limiting or prohibiting local climate adaptation actions.

The working groups will meet three times during the summer of 2021, with an introductory session having been held on June 17 for group members to meet. The first session will establish knowledge gaps in the expertise, the second meeting will organize and prioritize these knowledge gaps into recommended research activities and a third and final session will be dedicated to articulating the prioritized research activities and goals. The deliverables of these meetings and work will be presented to the public sometime this fall.

Over 20 Drexel and Academy faculty, professional staff members and students are involved in this endeavor, coming together from a variety of academic and administrative units and different fields.

Jin Wen, PhD, professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering, is a co-lead of one of the working groups. She will be co-leading the Planning Low Carbon Adaptation of the Built Environment working group with Steve Krug, principal of Krug Architects and chairperson of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Climate Change Advisory Committee. 

The planning team organizing and overseeing the CRRA consists of:

  • Franco Montalto, PhD, professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering.
  • Hugh Johnson, senior associate in Drexel’s Office of Research and Innovation.
  • Jen Britton, director of communications and special projects in Drexel’s Office of University & Community Partnerships.
  • Korin Tangtrakul, sustainability manager of the Sustainable Water Resource Engineering Lab at Drexel.
  • Richard Johnson, director of Climate Year at the Academy of Natural Sciences.
  • Roland Wall, director of the Patrick Center for Environmental Research at the Academy of Natural Sciences.
  • Alexis Schulman, PhD, assistant research professor in the Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science at the College of Arts and Sciences; director of the Environmental Studies and Sustainability Program; and Dolan Fellow for Innovation in Water Science at the Patrick Center for Environmental Research at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Additional support came from Sloane Woerdeman, research assistant in Drexel’s Sustainable Water Resource Engineering lab, and Drexel undergraduate student volunteers Begimay Ahmatova, Avani Kavathekar and Sydney Schoenholtz. 

The CRRA is composed of four working groups, with Drexel and Academy experts included below:

  1. Regional Climate Change & Cascading Hazards Working Group:
  • Jerry Fagliano, PhD, associate clinical professor and chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health in the Dornsife School of Public Health.
  • Marina Moses, DrPH, assistant professor and director of the Master of Health Administration Program in the Health Administration Department in the College of Nursing and Health Professions.
  • Mira Olson, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering.
  • Scott Quitel, assistant teaching professor in the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship.
  • Andrew F. Smith, associate professor of philosophy and environmental studies in the Department of English and Philosophy and Center for Science, Technology and Society in the College of Arts and Sciences. 
  1. Health & Environmental Vulnerability Working Group:
  • Jane Clougherty, ScD, associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health in the Dornsife School of Public Health.
  • Maria Dellapina, research assistant in the College of Nursing and Health Professions' AgeWell Collaboratory.
  • Arthur Frank, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health in the Dornsife School of Public Health.
  • Liza Herzog, director of academic research in the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship.
  • Stefanie Kroll, PhD, assistant research professor in the Department of Biodiversity, Earth & Environmental Science in the College of Arts and Sciences and watershed ecology section lead in the Academy of Natural Sciences.
  1. Planning Low-Carbon Adaptation of the Built Environment Working Group (co-led by Drexel’s Jin Wen, as noted above):
  • Eugenia Victoria Ellis, PhD, professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering.
  • Patrick Gurian, PhD, professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering.
  • Charles Haas, PhD, LD Betz Professor of Environmental Engineering in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering.
  • Simi Hoque, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering.
  • Leah Schinasi, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health in the Dornsife School of Public Health.
  • Michael Waring, PhD, professor and department head of the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering.
  1. Regional Climate Governance and Adaptive Management
    • Elizabeth Quinn, adjunct professor in the Fashion Design program in Westphal College of Media Arts & Design.