About Me

5d8ff33b-e5f9-46bf-a7af-ea7670725c06 Hello!

My name is Nora Louise Schwaller. I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the Unviersity of North Carolina. I am also a licensed architect

At UNC, I have been involved in the Carolina Planning Journal, the Dynamics of Extreme Events People and Places (DEEPP) Project, the Hazards Resilience Center, and the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory. I also pursued certificates in Natural Hazards Resilience, and College Teaching

Research Focus

Mainly, I am interested in studying how disasters affect population movement compared to existing migration patterns. More specifically, my research focuses on four areas; (1) how individuals decide when to protect in place and when to move in the face of anthropogenic climate change1; (2) the relationship between risk and exposure on out-migration2; and (3) the relationship between pre- and post-disaster migration patterns3; and (4) the study of how historic inequities are compounded in the era of climate change4. To ensure that my work has impact, I try to focus on policy implications and lessons that can be adopted into planning practice5

This contributes to multiple bodies of research, highlighting the interdisciplinary value of this area of study. First, it operates within the disaster management field, filling gaps in research about the transition between short- and long-term recovery6, and the relative absence of studies into repeat events7. Second, it adds to the environmental resilience field and migration studies literature in sociology by addressing the effect of shock events in migration systems8. Finally, it, of course, operates within the city and regional planning literature, with a focus on the spatial dimension of social relationships9.

Future Research 

My long-term goals are focused on reducing the harm and inequities that are being created by anthropogenic climate change. To this end, I hope to focus on:

  1. Can pre-existing migration patterns create useful predictive models for post-disaster displacement?
  2. What is the relationship between temporary displacement (i.e., less than 3 months) and long-term migration (greater than two years) in the aftermath of disaster events?

The answer to these questions will influence both disaster response, and urban and regional growth in an era of climate change. If we can create predictive models for post-disaster displacement, then we can provide rapid support for displaced individuals. If we understand the relationship between displacement and long-term migration, then we can tailor interventions to support migration to low-risk areas and discourage migration to high-risk areas using displacement patterns. If we can both create predictive models for displacement and understand the natural relationship of displacement and long-term migration, then we can implement preemptive plans to support equitable recoveries and retreat.

Background

I have a Masters and Bachelors of Architecture from Tulane University‘s School of Architecture‘s 5-year Professional degree program. After graduation, I worked for almost four years in the San Francisco Bay Area. I got my feet wet at a small design firm with less than five employees. There, I took positions that built up from project support, to project design, to project management. I spent the following two years at BRW Architects’ San Francisco Office. There, I joined the Civic / Municipal Studio, and focused on the design of Essential Services Facilities. I worked with small project teams on multiple fire station projects and an Emergency Operations Center.

The typical understanding of an architect’s skill set is heavily involved with either art or mathematics. The truth is, neither are key to success in the field. Primarily, being an architect involves complex problem solving using an iterative development process. Beyond being the design lead, the architect is the project lead and manager. The most important skills we have are: being able to synthesize complex information from a variety of sources; transfer knowledge to people of dramatically different backgrounds; and organize hundreds of moving pieces in a logical and self-supporting manner. This has been invaluable as I have transferred into the field of city and regional planning.

When I am not working, I enjoy taking this goofball on long walks in the woods

Proof in the Pudding, see references below:

1. See published work: Schwaller, Nora Louise, Todd K. BenDor. 2021. “Differential residential perspectives on in situ protection and retreat as strategies for climate adaptation” Climatic Change: 167, 1-21.

And conference presentation: Schwaller, Nora Louise. Dichotomous or progressive choices: in situ protection and retreat as strategies for climate adaptation. Presented at the At What Point Managed Retreat Conference, Columbia University, online. (2021, June 22). Parallel session presentation.

And follow work in development: Schwaller, Nora Louise, Todd K. BenDor. Changing Perspectives After the Storm: A pre-post evaluation of risk perception and adaptive decision making. (Dissertation Paper 3)

2. See conference presentation: Schwaller, Nora Louise, Jordan Branham. Disaster Exposure and Mitigation: The Impact of Major and Minor Flood Events on Population Loss. Presented at the Association of State Floodplain Managers Foundation Conference, Cleveland, OH. (2019, May 21). Parallel session presentation.

And follow work in development: Schwaller, Nora Louise, Todd K. BenDor, Jordan Branham. Increased Movement and Decreased Discretion: Migration in relation to major disaster events and risk exposure. (Dissertation Paper 1)

3. See conference presentation: Schwaller, Nora Louise. Displacement and Return: migration patterns in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Presented at the Natural Hazards conference in Boulder, Colorado. (2019, July 15). Poster presentation.

And follow work in development: Schwaller, Nora Louise, A. Rachid El-Khattabi,Mai Thi Nguyen. Finding Community When Hurricanes Hit Home: Displacement from Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

4. See published work: Schwaller, Nora Louise, Jordan Branham, Atticus Jaramillo, Mai Thi Nguyen. “Rethinking Race and Ethnicity as Disaster Risk Factors: A Critique of Social Vulnerability Indices.” Carolina Planning Journal 46. 24-33. (April 2021).

And previous presentations: Schwaller, Nora Louise. Transformative Climate Planning: Incorporating, measuring, and actualizing equity. Presented at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning annual conference, online (2021, October 7). Round table participant.

5. Check back for work under review: Schwaller, Nora Louise, Leah Campbell, Mai Thi Nguyen, Gavin Smith. “(Mis)trusting the Process: How complications in the buyout process can degrade public trust.” Natural Hazards Journal. (Revise and Resubmit)

Campbell, Leah, Nora Louise Schwaller, Mai Thi Nguyen, Gavin Smith. “Barriers to Effective Local Administration of Post-Hurricane Matthew Buyouts.” International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters. (Revise and Resubmit)

See previous presentations: Campbell, Leah, Mai Thi Nguyen, Nora Louise Schwaller. Barriers to Effective Local Administration of Post-Hurricane Matthew Buyouts in North Carolina. Presented at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning annual conference, online. (2020, November 4). Parallel session presentation.

And follow work in development: Schwaller, Nora Louise, Todd K. BenDor. Do Floodplain Buyouts Mitigate Individual Risk?: Comparisons between HMGP Buyouts and Post-Disaster Migration. (Dissertation Paper 2)

6. Follow work in development: Schwaller, Nora Louise, Todd K. BenDor, Jordan Branham. Increased Movement and Decreased Discretion: Migration in relation to major disaster events and risk exposure. (Dissertation Paper 1)

Schwaller, Nora Louise, A. Rachid El-Khattabi,Mai Thi Nguyen. Finding Community When Hurricanes Hit Home: Displacement from Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

7. Follow work in development: Schwaller, Nora Louise, Todd K. BenDor, Jordan Branham. Increased Movement and Decreased Discretion: Migration in relation to major disaster events and risk exposure. (Dissertation Paper 1)

Schwaller, Nora Louise, Todd K. BenDor. Changing Perspectives After the Storm: A pre-post evaluation of risk perception and adaptive decision making. (Dissertation Paper 3)

8. Follow work in development: Schwaller, Nora Louise, A. Rachid El-Khattabi,Mai Thi Nguyen. Finding Community When Hurricanes Hit Home: Displacement from Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

9. See previous presentations: Hino, Miyuki, Todd K. BenDor, Jordan Branham, Nikhil Kaza, David Salvesen, Nora Louise Schwaller, Antonia Sebastian, Shane Sweeney. A Parcel-Scale Analysis of Municipal Floodplain Management in North Carolina. Presented at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning annual conference, online. (2020, November 4). Parallel session presentation.