Prof. Rae Zimmerman chosen to participate in Urban Infrastructure and Extreme Weather Related Events Study

Rae Zimmerman, Professor of Planning and Public Administration at NYU Wagner, has been selected to participate in a multi-disciplinary team of about 50 researchers from 15 universities plus other institutions. The team, led by Arizona State University, will address the vulnerability of urban infrastructure to extreme weather related events, and ways of reducing that vulnerability. Funded under a $12 million research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the researchers will conduct their extensive work over the coming five years.

Collectively, the team is called the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN). In light of weather related extremes, such as increasing storm frequency and intensity, as well as climate uncertainties, this network will evaluate threats to transportation, electricity, water, and other services in major urban areas, and the “social, ecological, and technical systems” to protect infrastructure and increase its flexibility and adaptability, using new designs and technologies. As part of the team, Professor Zimmerman will contribute to the integration of social systems, ecology and technology across infrastructures and their interconnections in urban contexts.

“Urban areas are vulnerable to extreme weather related events given their location, high concentration of people, and increasingly complex and interdependent infrastructure,” according to the NSF grant summary.

“Impacts of Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and other disasters demonstrate not just failures in built infrastructure, they highlight the inadequacy of institutions, resources, and information systems to prepare for and respond to events of this magnitude. The highly interdisciplinary and geographically dispersed Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) team will develop a diverse suite of new methods and tools to assess how infrastructure can be more resilient, provide ecosystem services, improve social well-being, and exploit new technologies in ways that benefit all segments of urban populations,” according to the NSF summary.

Zimmerman is Director of NYU Wagner's Institute for Civil Instrastructure Systems.