Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning: Priority Research Areas

Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning: Priority Research Areas

Core Research Strength: Integrating Health, Energy, Transportation, Community, and Sustainability through the Built and Natural Environments

A. What are LAUP's five research strengths?

1. Community management of environmental hazards (natural and technological).
Sub themes: Hazard and vulnerability analysis; emergency preparedness and response; disaster recovery; resiliency; structural and non-structural mitigation; emergency management; risk analysis and risk communication;.

The faculty in environmental hazard management provides insight and guidance for emergency management programs from natural hazards to nuclear power, and from chemical emergencies to terrorist events. Michael Lindell, with dozens of articles in premiere journals, is an internationally recognized researcher who has been instrumental in quantifying emergency management functions in natural and technological hazards. Walter Peacock is a leading expert on recovery from disasters, especially hurricanes. His work significantly contributed to the understanding that people are not equally impacted when disasters occur. George Rogers, with dozens of articles in a variety of journals, conducts research on group risk perception, sustainable communities and environmental hazards.

2. Sustainability of human and natural ecosystems at various spatial scales.
Sub themes: Coastal ecosystems; protected and natural areas; watershed management, ecosystem planning; sustainable places; storm water quality and erosion control; ground water protection; green design and infrastructure; ecological networks; growth management; land use change; and sustainable land development.

The LAUP faculty has ongoing research programs in fields related to sustainability, ecology and environmental planning. They often address some of the most important research questions of our time, like urban sprawl, coastal margin development and the effectiveness of environmental regulation.

  • Samuel Brody received a National Science Foundation Career Award in 2003 to pursue his interests in coastal margins and watershed management. Samuel Brody and others won the best paper award for articles published in the American Planning Association Journal in 2007.

  • Michael Neuman is an internationally recognized planning scholar on sustainability and design. He won the American Planning Association's 1999 award for the Best Feature of the Year and the European Planning Best Article Award (2005).

  • Pliny Fisk is a well-known international designer and scholar in sustainable design.

  • Forster Ndubisi is a nationally recognized scholar on ecological planning and design. He is the author of Ecological Planning (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002). The book was awarded the Choice Best Academic Title in 2003; and research conducted on the book won the only American Society of Landscape Architecture Honor Award in 1999.

  • Ming-Han Li is a national expert on storm water management and management of vegetated roadways in the context of urban and suburban landscapes. His articles have been published in Landscape and Urban Planning, Journal of Transportation Research, and Journal of Environmental Engineering.

3. Social and economic viability of neighborhoods and communities.
Sub themes: Coastal ecosystems; Neighborhood revitalization, housing and community development for special populations; affordable housing; micro-business; economic development; business location, public-private partnerships, and fiscal impact analysis; infrastructure.

Faculty in this research area examine methods and policies for attracting and retaining appropriate and sustainable economic development, and for improving the quality of life in disadvantaged communities, addressing such topics as poverty and segregation as well as increasing economic opportunities and investments in cities, regions, and poor neighborhoods.

Elise Bright is the author of Reviving America's Forgotten Neighborhoods: An Investigation of Inner City Revitalization Efforts, which received the Paul Davidoff award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning for promoting social justice, participatory planning and positive social change.

Cecilia Giusti is a HUD Urban Scholar who examines economic development issues in the Texas colonias.

  • Shannon Van Zandt's work on low-income homeownership has been cited more than one hundred times and is used in housing and policy courses across the nation.

  • Jesse Saginor's research focuses on municipal strategies for encouraging redevelopment, while Yu Xiao's work examines the recovery of small businesses following disasters.

4. Healthy neighborhoods and cities.
Sub themes: Physical form and health outcomes; access to unmet needs for special populations; evidence-based health planning and design; health policy; therapeutic landscapes; active living; and walkable neighborhoods.

In health systems planning and policy, our faculty members are key leaders in therapeutic gardens, healthy communities, the impact of nature on human well-being, and health outcomes measurement.

Sherry Bame, as a former nurse trained in quantitative social science, brings a social organization approach to health systems planning and policy environmental health, and health-related disaster planning.

  • Chang-Shan Huang is an internationally award-winning designer with a commitment to improving design through research.

  • Chanam Lee specializes in urban design and physical planning, non-motorized transportation, physical activity and public health.

  • Donald Sweeney's interests involve health system policy and planning management, and the healthier community's movement.

  • Roger Ulrich's 1984 article in the journal Science established his leadership in the field of modern therapeutic gardens.

  • James W. Varni, a pediatric psychologist with over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles in such journals as the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics,Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Journal of Pediatrics, and Medical Care,is an international leading expert on health-related quality of life measurement and behavioral, psychological, and environmental impacts on health and well-being outcomes in pediatric populations.

5. Transportation mobility, safety, access, and physical forms.
Sub themes: Transportation, land use, and infrastructure; transportation and urban design; sustainable transportation; transportation investment decisions; and walkable neighborhoods.

Seven (7) full-time faculty members, research scientists, and lecturers bring a comprehensive approach to transportation planning, policy, and design.

  • Eric Dumbaugh, with a background in both planning and engineering, examines how roadway and community design influence safety, mobility, and community livability. He has published in numerous journals, including the Journal of the American Planning Association and the Journal of Planning Literature, and received the Transportation Research Board's Award for Outstanding Paper in Geometric Design in 2007.

  • Chanam Lee brings a background in planning and landscape architecture to provide a holistic perspective on the effects of roadway and community design on physical activity and health.

Our full-time faculty are complimented by research scientists and lecturers from the world-renowned Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), including

Tim Lomax, author of the Urban Mobility Report; Katherine Turnbull, Associate Director of TTI; Dennis Perkinson, the former Director of Planning for VIA Metropolitan Transit; David Ellis, an expert in transportation policy and finance; and Bill Eisele, a research engineer with TTI's Mobility Analysis group.

Collectively, they comprise one of the largest and most diverse assemblages of transportation faculty in any planning program in the United States.

B. What "rare" research strengths in LAUP set it apart nationally?

LANDMARK RESEARCH QUESTION: How can research further our understanding of the role of the built and natural environments (i.e., land use planning, design, and development) in creating communities that are healthy, equitable, efficient, and resilient, overcoming development patterns that have contributed to sprawl, environmental degradation, concentrated poverty, regional polarization, and increased exposure to disasters?

LAUP faculty members have proven research expertise and experience in providing intellectual leadership nationally, as well as in integrating and coordinating leadership in addressing the above question that continues to be at the forefront of national attention, as the United States experiences rapid population and economic growth, within the context of a global society. LAUP is also the home of three top-ranked journals in the field: Landscape and Urban Planning, International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Hazards, and the Journal of Architectural and Planning Research.

C. How do LAUP's research strengths contribute to the foundational excellence of the University?

LAUP's research strengths in general and in national leadership in particular, in addressing the landmark research question noted above, emanate from the way we do things: We analyze, we design, we plan, we create, we build; and we do them comprehensively, systematically, holistically, taking a long-term view. Due to the multiple and complex interdependencies of the built and natural environments, the integrative theories and methods that are common to our disciplines are well suited to our scholarly analyses and our professional practices. Moreover, our faculty routinely boundary-span across so many disciplines, and in so doing, have amassed proven track records of collaboration with departments and research centers within the College of Architecture as well as with other Texas A & M University's colleges and research units,such as Engineering, Bush, Medicine, AgriLife, TTI, Geosciences, and Business.

D. Does your department have the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary strength to meet society's grand challenges?

Based on LAUP's research strengths, we are well positioned to lead and integrate research on related landmark research questions and topics across the TAMU campus. Very little of this research is truly integrated in a territorial and built environment sense. True integration requires comprehensive, long term, and strategic analyses of multiple and reciprocal relations among health, energy, transportation, community, sustainability, and the built and natural environments.