Rice workshop examines resilience, equity in Houston

'Steering Cities and Regions Towards Resilience and Equity' co-chaired by professors Leonardo Dueñas-Osorio and Jamie Padgett and the Kinder Institute's Daniel Potter.

People sitting in meeting room during presentation

Some 50 researchers, graduate students and government officials attended a workshop, “Steering Cities and Regions Towards Resilience and Equity,” which took place on Dec. 15 at Rice University.

“Our goal was to hear from institutional representatives and community stakeholders about their needs and challenges to make the Houston region a resilient metropolis for future generations,” said Leonardo Dueñas-Osorio, professor of civil and environmental engineering (CEE).

The event was co-chaired by Dueñas-Osorio; Jamie Padgett, the Stanley C. Moore Professor in Engineering and chair of CEE; and Daniel Potter, senior director of research for the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice.

“The gaps revealed in the workshop between community needs and research capabilities,” Dueñas-Osorio said, “will effectively steer policy and innovation for safe and equitable regions, and bridge the gap with the social sciences and humanities.”

Among the speakers at the half-day event were:

Daniel Cohan, associate professor of CEE at Rice, “Assessing the air and health impacts of electrification of vehicles and beyond”

Brian Mason, executive director of Houston TranStar, “Transportation and Emergency Management in Southeast Texas: A Government Consortium Serving the Public”

Chuck Wemple, executive director of Houston-Galveston Area Council, “Pulling Together — the Importance of a Regional Approach to Resiliency and Equity”

Carol Haddock, director of the City of Houston’s Department of Public Works

Ed Emmett, fellow in energy and transportation policy, Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice, “Formula for Resilience”

Lagnesh Varshney, managing engineer for transportation and drainage, City of Houston, “Street and Drainage Rehabilitation — Investment and Resilience”

Oliver Smith, senior consultant with Smith Professional Services, “Reliability and  Resilience in the Balance: Challenges and Opportunities for Resilient and Equitable Cities of the Future”

Adrienne Holloway, executive director of Harris County Community Services

“The event was a success,” Dueñas-Osorio said, “as all invited government and planning representatives attended and shared their challenges for the next generation. That was our main goal: eliciting frank challenges.”

The workshop was co-sponsored by Rice, the Kinder Institute, Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at San Antonio and Texas Tech University. The workshop was funded through an NSF grant administered by Texas A&M, “Sustainable Transportation Electrification for an Equitable and Resilient Society (STEERS).”