Project Aims to Help Mid-Atlantic Combat Hurricanes, Heat Waves

October 29, 2013
Seth Guikema

Seth Guikema, assistant professor of geography and environmental engineering

The National Science Foundation has awarded Seth Guikema, an assistant professor of geography and environmental engineering at the Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering, a $3 million grant to build a program that will determine the effect of repeated hurricanes and heat waves on the Mid-Atlantic region and suggest ways to improve the region’s ability to withstand them.

A multidisciplinary team led by Guikema will create a computer model that incorporates research on engineering, social and behavioral sciences, geosciences, climate science, public health and landscape architecture. The resulting project will allow for the testing of hypotheses about a region’s ability to withstand hazards in a way never before possible.

The project, Guikema said, will help policymakers, emergency personnel and homeowners understand the steps they can take to better survive these extreme weather events.

“For too long, different groups focused only on their areas. But if you don’t take it all into account, you can have great ideas that simply don’t work,” Guikema said. “Our overarching goal is to look at this problem differently.”

Other Johns Hopkins researchers will contribute their expertise to the model. They include:

Robert Dalrymple, the Willard & Lillian Hackerman chair in civil engineering, who has expertise in coastal surge modeling
Ben Zaitchik, an assistant professor of earth and planetary science who will contribute climate research
Roger Peng, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health specializing in environmental biostatistics, who will assess health impacts
Tak Igusa, a professor of civil engineering and interim director of the Johns Hopkins Systems Institute, who will help Guikema build the main model

In awarding the grant, the NSF called Guikema’s project “a critical resource for the nation.”

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