Department of Civil Engineering Cluster Hire
Resilient and Sustainable Infrastructure:
Adapting to a Changing Climate
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The cluster hire seeks two new hires in Civil Engineering to focus on science and engineering, at the new frontier of resilient, adaptable, and sustainable infrastructure. UNH already has strong institutional assets in sustainable infrastructure, communities, natural resources, and agriculture through the Carsey Institute, the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space (EOS), the Environmental Research Group (ERG), the Sustainability Institute and the Sustainability Research Collaboratory. The goal of this cluster hire is to uniquely position UNH as a regional and national leader in climate change and sustainable engineering. Our goal is to hire a new faculty cohort who will use the UNH’s existing capabilities as a springboard for their career development. UNH plans to lead in the development of flexible adaption techniques for the built environment. We are hiring now in order to build on existing strengths in infrastructure adaptation to global climate change. We anticipate this cluster hire will lead to significant increases in education and scholarship including research funding and commercial patents and expanded graduate and undergraduate student populations.
Recent extreme events such as hurricanes Sandy and Irene, flooding in Colorado and along the Mississippi River, and extended drought throughout the south have highlighted the need for changing infrastructure design. The March 4, 2013 issue of Engineer News Record featured the first installment of a new series on climate adaptation while Professional Engineers Magazine devoted its March cover story to changing climate and infrastructure design. The Army Corps of Engineers, the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee, and the National Academy of Engineering have urged the U.S.to take action on the issue of nonstationarity and infrastructure. Multiple organizations have stressed that for economic national viability new approaches in design need to be built upon robustness, flexibility, and adaptability. Implementation of more sustainable, resilient and adaptable solutions will require attention from researchers in engineering and social science, practitioners, and local, state and federal agencies. The tools of sustainability science and engineering are required to holistically analyze social and environmental trade-offs of new technologies or practices that may be developed. The cluster hire encompasses the cross disciplinary research that is required to develop and implement these new technologies.
Existing Expertise at UNH
With few boundaries to interdisciplinary research and the existence of complementary institutes such as the Carsey Institute and the Sustainability Institute, UNH is in the position to lead in infrastructure and climate adaptation. This cluster will partner across the UNH campus and increase the capabilities of sustainability researchers at UNH. UNH has recognized expertise across the fields of civil engineering infrastructure (transportation, environmental, water systems and marine structures), climate science and institutional and community sustainability. UNH also has expertise in natural resources policy and economics as well as in ecosystem governance processes. Faculty members in these disciplines have been working collaboratively and leading interdisciplinary research related to the resilient and sustainable infrastructure for a changing climate theme. Currently, the NSF funded RCN-SEES: Engineering Research Collaboratory for Sustainable Infrastructure project is creating a network of over 50 engineers and scientists to help integrate climate science and engineering research for sustainable transportation infrastructure in New England (Infrastructure and Climate Network – ICNet). This grant unites civil engineers in the geotechnical, materials, structures, and water resources areas and climate scientists across UNH and beyond. The Evaluating Climate & Global Change Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for USACE’s Institute for Water Resources project is helping the US Army Corps of Engineers plan for climate mitigation and adaptation in their projects across the country. A NOAA funded project led by ERG and EOS is bringing faculty across campus together to carry out multi-disciplinary, participatory research on developing strategies for Exeter NH to adapt to climate change impacts on built and natural systems. The current EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement program cooperative agreement ($25 million over 5 years) focuses on interactions between climate, ecosystem function and society and represents a major investment from NSF in building the capability of NH research capacity in this area.
Other Benefits and Assets
UNH is ideally located geographically for advancing research on sustainable engineering and climate change. The local region captures the global breadth of anticipated climate impacts including stresses to aging infrastructure, critical coastal infrastructure and ecosystems, and a large population living on the coast and near rivers. The cluster of faculty to be hired, working with existing faculty, will topically address a critical societal need to discover new ways to deal with the uncertainties when planning for human, built and natural systems under a non-stationary climate.
As a land grant institution, UNH has an obligation to serve NH’s direct interests. By partnering with industries and communities in the state on local research, we can help build their capacity to develop plans, designs, and solutions for resilient physical and ecological infrastructure. The larger community will benefit from the students graduating from the program and the knowledge created through collaborating on interdisciplinary research.
Center and Groups at UNH that new hires may work with
Existing faculty working in cluster hire topic area
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