Category Archives: Ongoing

Article Accepted for Publication: Climatic Change

A paper I have been working on with Dr. Todd BenDor has just been accepted for publication by Climatic Change. It is my second, first author publication in a peer reviewed journal.

This paper uses a SEM model to analyze results from an in-depth survey distributed in 2017 to better understand how residents of the Albemarle Pamlico Peninsula, NC, which is highly vulnerable to climate change, are viewing adaptation decisions. Our results show that residents who are concerned about future trends are more open to moving away from their community. We find that an optimistic perception of flooding over the past two decades (i.e. flooding has gotten better, storms have gotten milder, etc.) is associated with reluctance to engage in protective measures generally. We also found that a resident’s pessimistic perception of past events, absent of concerns about the future, is correlated with a greater openness for in situ adaptation measures.

Our findings push forward the understanding of the factors that prompt resident willingness (and similarly, unwillingness) to consider taking measures to adapt to climate change. Understanding the process that leaves residents willing to retreat or protect themselves is critical to governments’ ability to mitigate long-term risk. Moreover, this information is critical to informing the strategies that local, state, and federal governments use in approaching and encouraging individuals to take proactive measures to mitigate increasing climate risk to their properties, livelihoods, and health.

These findings, and results from future studies, can be used to inform communication strategies that may prompt residents to take precautionary measures to reduce their personal risk, as well as the risk of their communities and the state at large. The abstract for the article is below:

The growing cost of climate-driven coastal impacts requires an improved understanding of how coastal populations engage with adaptation decisions. While many studies explore factors driving coastal adaptation, generally, few evaluate how residents consider relationships between in situ, protective adaption vs. retreat from at-risk areas. What is the relationship between residents’ exposure, perceptions of climate trends, and concerns about the future? How do these factors influence attitudes openness to different adaption strategies? Are these strategies considered to be progressive – where protection is indexed to minor threats and retreat occurs when protection measures fail – or are these dichotomous choices? We apply structural equation modeling to evaluate these decision pathways using a 2017 household survey in North Carolina’s (USA) Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula (n=147). Our results reveal that residents commonly view protection and retreat as mutually exclusive, rather than progressive, methods for reducing risk, and that their preferences are correlated with different understandings of climate threats.

ACSP 2020: Four Abstracts Accepted

I have presented the past two years at the 2018 ACSP conference in Buffalo, New York; as well as the 2019 ACSP conference in Greenville, SC, so, I am comfortable with the process by now. However, was a little surprised to reflect back on the work I’ve done the past year, on my own papers and on teams with other researchers, and realize I’ve been a partner on four different projects that are being presented on for this upcoming conference (theoretically still taking place) in Toronto.

A quick list of the paper authors and the other authors are below:

Abstract ID: 199

SCHWALLER, Nora [presenting]
NGUYEN, Mai [primary author]
CAMPBELL, Leah [co-author]


flood parcel

Abstract ID: 379
HINO, Miyuki [presenting author]
BENDOR, Todd [co-author]
BRANHAM, Jordan [co-author]
KAZA, Nikhil [co-author]
SALVESEN, Dave [co-author]
SCHWALLER, Nora [co-author]
SEBASTIAN, Antonia [co-author]
SWEENEY, Shane [co-author]


Abstract ID: 885
BRANHAM, [presenting author]
SCHWALLER, Nora [co-author]



Abstract ID: 368
CAMPBELL, Leah [presenting author]
NGUYEN, Mai [primary author]
SCHWALLER, Nora [co-author]

Blog Post on Phil Freelon

I wrote a new blog post for Carolina Angles on the the passing of local and global architect, Phil Freelon. An excerpt is included below:

Philip Goodwin Freelon, local architect and the Architect of Record for the lauded National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., died on July 9th, 2019, at the age of 66. His death was due to complications from ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

In addition to being a nationally prominent architect, Mr. Freelon was an important local figure. He graduated in 1975 from North Carolina State University’s College of Design. Later, he served as an adjunct professor at his Alma Mater and designed both the Partner III building and the contemporary expansion of the Gregg Museum of Art and Design, both on NC State’s campus. At 25, he became the youngest architect to ever be licensed in North Carolina.

Read more at Carolina Angles

Natural Hazards Center’s Hazards Workshop: Poster Presenter

The Natural Hazards Center is an National Science Foundation-designated organization dedicated to furthering knowledge on the social dimensions of natural dimensions and facilitating research and coordination between academics and practitioners. It is run through the University of Colorado at Boulder. For over 40 years, it has been hosting an annual conference on Natural Hazards research and Applications. For this current workshop, I am participating in a poster session to showcase some of my work of post-disaster migration.

My poster analyzes post-disaster displacement from and return to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, specifically focusing on the following questions:

1) Are disaster migrants displaced to areas with comparatively low-levels of vulnerability?
2) Do patterns of settlement by post-disaster migrants resemble pre-disaster migration trends?
3) Do these patterns influence individuals’ decisions to return or to remain?


At What Point Managed Retreat 2019: Presenter

Recently, the Climate Adaption Initiative at Columbia University’s Earth Institute hosted the Managed Retreat conference. I had the privilege of presenting work that I have been developing with Jordan Branham on Disaster Exposure and Migration: The Impact of Major and Minor Flood Events on Population Loss for the panel on Migration as Adaptation.

I had an absolutely fantastic experience, and met some scholars that I have been reading extensively (including Elizabeth Fussell), met with some colleagues my age that I am beginning to become familiar with through these types of events, and learned a lot. This conference had multiple panels and presentations on buyouts, on how we should even approach the term ‘managed retreat’, and conversations with local community leaders and members of indigenous groups who’s homes are threatened by sea-level rise.

First Prize: ASFPM Student Paper Competition

This is an update to my earlier post on being named a semi-finalist for the ASFPM 2019 Conference Student Paper Competition.  I wrote a paper with Jordan Branham entitled “Disaster Exposure and Migration: The Impact of Major and Minor Flood Events on Population Loss.” I presented the paper on Tuesday, and, today, was awarded first place for this work.

See more about the final paper here!

Impacts of the Government Shutdown on HUD Programs: Blog Post

I wrote a new blog post for Carolina Angles on the impact of the government shutdown on HUD programs, with an emphasis on the impact in North Carolina. An excerpt is included below:

On January 4th, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a memorandum intended to explain how payments will proceed to Assisted Property Owners who provide affordable housing units to families across the United States. They assured owners that, while the Department’s spending authority expired on December 21st, interim activities would continue for the first thirty business days. This would include payments for Section 8 contracts, rent supplement contracts, Section 236 agreements, and Project Rental Assistance Contracts (PRAC), among others, “on an as needed basis to ensure ongoing viability of assets and preservation of affordable housing…contingent on budget authority being available from prior year appropriations or recaptures.” It was not immediately clear if or how that would continue past the thirty-day mark, possibly because, at that time, it seemed unlikely we would surpass it [1].

Read more at Carolina Angles

Photo credit: Joseph Prezioso / AFP / Getty Images

Planning for 36 Hours in New Orleans, LA: Blog Post

Recently, I established a quick travel series for the Carolina Angles planning blog, which gives a quick look at fun haunts from the perspective of planning students and professionals. To kick off the series, I wrote a post on New Orleans, LA, where I lived for multiple years during my undergraduate education. An excerpt is included below:

About the series: Welcome to our ongoing travel series. These are all posts written by planning students and professionals about what to do in a given city when looking for Brunch, a Brew, or a good idea on a Budget. To cap it all off, we include a fun planning fact!

About the visit: I lived in New Orleans for five years during my undergraduate program and absolutely fell in love with this city. I can never go back as often as I like, but recently returned for a friend’s wedding. Here are some of my favorite haunts and top recommendations

Read more at Carolina Angles

ACSP 2018: Presenter

I presented on a topic that looked at how repeat events were related to disaster exposure.

There are communities inland within North Carolina that are inherently vulnerable. As climate change progresses, they will be at risk of disaster events with increasing frequency. Due to this, and due to vulnerable development, some of these communities will become obsolete, and their citizens will become climate refugees.

In the context of Hurricane Matthew: we have some understanding on why communities, and the individuals within them, choose to pursue buyout
programs. However, our understanding of why individuals mitigate in place is less certain. But, it is quite possible that physical characteristics of place, particularly the natural characteristics of the towns, play a significant role.

climate refugees