Faculty & Student Research and Engagement
Ever wonder what projects you could be working on as a DCRP student? We asked a couple of Phil Berke's students.
Faculty and students at DCRP carry out an extensive body of research and engage in a variety of projects working with local communities and clients. Research is carried out at our own research centers as well as through partnerships with academic, governmental, business, and non-profit organizations. Students in the department are also active participants in community-based planning workshop courses in which they engage directly with local community groups. In addition to faculty and doctoral research projects, Master’s students also engage in research and engagement through their Master’s Projects.
Faculty focus: Dr. Philip Berke
Dr. Philip Berke is a senior faculty member with expertise in land use and environmental planning, hazard risk reduction, and climate change adaptation. The central focus of his research seeks to explore what motivates communities to act in the public interest through planning, and how these decisions impact community ability to anticipate and adapt to increasingly unpredictable changes generated by global forces. His ultimate goal is to seek solutions to complex urban development problems that help communities become more physically and socially sustainable.
Students currently supported by Dr. Berke's research funding
Danielle Spurlock (Doctoral Student) I am a fifth year doctoral student with a specialization in land use and environmental planning. Despite the growing attention given to comprehensive planning and water resource management, there has been limited empirical evidence of how well the plans incorporate watershed protection practices and how, if at all, these policies are implemented. My dissertation evaluates how the content and quality of local governments’ comprehensive plans, ordinances, and development applications support the protection of water resources and how linkages among these elements support the implementation of policies aimed at protecting and enhancing water quality. This area of inquiry builds upon Dr. Berke’s research on plan quality (i.e., the development and utilization of principles to guide plan evaluation) and extends that approach to ordinance and development application evaluation. Prior to entering the doctoral program at UNC-CH, I worked as a Research Associate at the Center for Urban and Regional Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill on a project that investigated the barriers to increasing emergency awareness and preparedness in socially vulnerable communities. I also worked as a Research Associate at the Active Living by Design program located within the North Carolina Institute for Public Health.
Mikey Goralnik (Master's Student)
My work at the Institute for the Environment falls into two categories. First, working directly for Dr. Berke, I am involved in projects primarily related to planning for the mitigation of and recovery from natural hazards. As part of separate plan quality assessments, I analyze mitigation and recovery plans, coding for specific tools, policies, and other planning mechanisms. Additionally, I am administering a survey of local hazard mitigation planners to begin gauging the connection between their mitigation plans and the implementation of mitigative activities in coastal communities. Secondly, working for Dr. David Salvesen, I am involved in a project to identify the role of green energy production as an economic development tool in Danville, Virginia. We are working with Danville city and regional governments, a multi-national utility company, and businesses from around the country to ascertain if green energy production can be a strong enough incentive to lure businesses to the area.
Jasmine Kumalah (Master's Student)
I am currently a first year masters student in the City and Regional Planning program, with an interest in Environmental planning and Community development. I am currently researching the degree to which Hazard mitigation plans address social equity concerns. The research will aid in the development of a set of social equity best practices that can serve as a guide to communities developing Hazard Mitigation plans. My primary interests include but are not limited to Hazard mitigation planning for socially vulnerable or disadvantaged communities and narrative based approaches to community engagement.
Meghan Aminto (Master's Student)
I am currently in my second year at DCRP, concentrating in land use and environmental planning. I am supporting a variety of projects at the Institute for the Environment, principally related to how cities plan for and respond to natural disasters. In my first year at DCRP, I supported hazard mitigation implementation research for the Department of Homeland Security that involved distributing implementation surveys to emergency management staff in over 175 local jurisdictions to determine the status of hazard mitigation planning activities. I am currently helping to develop a web-based Hazard Mitigation Best Practices Guidebook to share recommended practices in hazard mitigation plan development derived from this research. During the summer, I supported a National Science Foundation project on post-disaster recovery. My role was to content-analyze nearly 90 local plans to determine the extent to which post-disaster recovery is being addressed through local policy and planning. This year, I am continuing my support of hazards-related work, and I am also content-analyzing development management ordinances and approved applications for jurisdictions in the Jordan Lake watershed in North Carolina and the Gunpowder-Patapsco watershed in Maryland to determine the extent to which water quality protection measures are addressed. Prior to DCRP, I worked as an environmental consultant at ICF International supporting international programs for EPA and USAID.