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PhD Student Rui Shi, Among Recipients of 2020 Award for Doctoral Research on Urban Issues

Research Title: Providing Decision Support for Climate Adaptation: The Value of Uncertainty-Based Adaptive Management

rui-shi-awardClimate change is a major concern for sustainable development, especially in urban areas. Increasing risks of extreme weather events such as heat waves and stormwater are of concern because they can cause significant health and economic impacts on urban residents. Well-planned adaptation is necessary and urgent to mitigate those adverse effects. However, uncertainty about how climate change will evolve and the costs and effectiveness of mitigating its effects means that near-term decisions will need to be made without fully knowing their consequences. Decision analysis can systematically analyze decision problems under uncertainty, and thus can be an effective tool to support decision-making for urban climate adaptation.

This dissertation will address how comprehensive decision analysis can inform adaptation planning for mitigating health impacts of heat waves in cities, using Baltimore, MD as a case study. Specifically, it will first develop a more efficient way to monitor intra-urban temperature at the neighborhood scale; and then, with this temperature information, it will employ the Robust Decision Making (RDM) method to design robust, adaptive strategies for urban heat adaptation in Baltimore through 2020 to 2039. The robust strategies identified in the study have the goal of efficiently using resources to reduce mortality effects of urban heat waves across a wide range of future scenarios. The RDM analytic framework can be generalized to other cities.

Rui Shi is a PhD student of the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering. His faculty adviser is Prof. Benjamin Hobbs. Rui’s research interests focus on Decision Making Under Deep Uncertainty and its application in informing climate adaptation for urban areas. Rui earned his master’s degree from the University of Michigan and his bachelor’s degree from the Nanjing University. He also worked at the RAND Corporation and the Rocky Mountain Institute as a summer associate.

The 21st Century Cities Initiative (21CC) at Johns Hopkins University promotes the research of graduate students working toward a PhD degree with a 21CC Research Award for innovative dissertation research focusing on policy-relevant urban research that closely aligns with 21CC’s interest areas. In 2020, 21CC awarded 12 PhD students researching a variety of urban issues from immigration to education to healthy food to disaster relief in Baltimore City and cities across the globe.