Brody to facilitate HRRC projects as
Mitchell Chair with joint appointment


Urban planning professor Sam Brody, the new holder of the George P. Mitchell ‘40 Chair in Sustainable Coasts at Texas A&M University at Galveston and a faculty fellow with Texas A&M’s Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center, is facilitating the center’s expansion to the university’s Galveston campus, putting the center at the doorstep of one of its major research areas.

Brody, who also serves in Galveston as director Center for Texas Beaches and Shores and as director of the HRRC’s Environmental Planning & Sustainability Research Unit, began a joint appointment this fall between the Aggie campuses in College Station and Galveston.

Brody’s said his joint appointment to the faculty of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at the College Station campus, and to the Department of Marine Sciences in Galveston, will foster collaboration between the two research centers.

The Center for Texas Beaches and Shores, headquartered at TAMUG, is dedicated to the conservation and protection of the Texas shoreline, bays and waterways through research in cooperation with government and private sector agencies. The Hazard Reduction & Recovery Center, facilitates research in hazard mitigation, disaster preparedness, response and recovery, and is one of only two centers worldwide to be designated a Collaborative Centre by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“In terms of looking at coastal issues, from hurricanes, to flooding, to resiliency and social vulnerability, expanding the HRRC to the Galveston campus better connects the center to the communities we’re studying,” said Brody.

Brody’s coastal research initiatives were further advanced by his recent appointment as the George P. Mitchell ’40 Chair in Sustainable Coasts, a position that also provides funding for sustainable coastal communities research.

Prior to his appointment, Brody met with Mitchell, the energy and real estate magnate and original developer of The Woodlands, Texas who endowed the chair.

“Mitchell is really interested in sustainability, the built environment, and the coast, and when he asked me to do it, I couldn’t say no,” said Brody. “It’s a real honor.”

As holder of the Mitchell Chair and through his joint appointment, Brody will advance initiatives already under way at the HRRC and Texas A&M’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning.

“In response to an increasing interest in hazards and coastal sustainability, last year I started a coastal management track in Texas A&M’s Master of Urban Planning program,” said Brody. “Planning students can take coastal management courses in Galveston, and we’re setting up a curriculum where students in College Station can take courses either there or via video conference. Hopefully, one day students in Galveston will be able to access our courses up here.”

Among the HRRC’s projects benefitting from the center’s expansion to Galveston is the Coastal Communities Planning Atlas, launched in 2008, which allows anyone with an Internet connection to see the likely effects of development two counties deep along the Texas coast.

“Now we’ve taken it to the next step, where the program is able to, with real data at the parcel level, run development scenarios,” he said. “Say you wanted to change farmland to residential development. It’ll then go into the server, run an analysis, and the user can understand the consequences of that action,” he said.

HRRC director Walt Peacock is the principal investigator of “Status and Trends of Coastal Vulnerability to Natural Hazards,” a study running through 2012 examining coastal vulnerability to natural hazards, including the state’s mitigation plan and its applicability to its coastal management plan, an assessment of the effectiveness of construction codes and land use policies, and an assessment of the physical and social vulnerabilities of coastal populations to facilitate planning and policy development related to hazard mitigation and response.

Shannon Van Zandt, assistant professor of urban planning, is the principal investigator in an HRRC project researching Galveston’s recovery from Hurricane Ike.

With a grant from the National Science Foundation, graduate students and faculty members are collecting data on structures, businesses, households and policy decision making to capture long-term recovery trajectories for households, housing and business and adaptive decision making and management.

Brody said HRRC personnel will be able to use dedicated office space on the Galveston campus to work on the center’s myriad projects.

- Posted: Oct. 5, 2009 -

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Sam Brody

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