2023 Deb Mitchell Research Grant Awarded
The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) is pleased to announce the 2023 recipient of our $25,000 research grant.
The LAF Research Grant in Honor of Deb Mitchell is awarded annually to support a research project that is relevant and impactful for the professional practice of landscape architecture.
This year's winning proposal is Heat Waves: Visualizing Thermal Disparities. Working with the City of Omaha, Nebraska, principal investigators Salvador Lindquist and Keenan Gibbons will test commercially available thermal visualization tools, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and forward-looking infrared (FLIR) cameras, to develop a toolkit for landscape planners and policymakers to make better informed decisions in designing more just and equitable landscapes.
Findings from this research will help to fill gaps in knowledge about how thermo-visualization tools can be used by designers to mitigate the inequitable distribution of intense surface temperatures and influence policy, public health, urban planning, and the use of nature-based solutions. The primary output will be a toolkit on using thermal visualization tools to show the positive impacts of nature-based solutions at a more granular level than is currently possible. As part of a larger research trajectory, this 18-month study will also leverage additional grant funding to continue this work, including the Bob Cardoza/CLASS Fund along with key partnerships with the City of Omaha, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and others.
“This proposal goes beyond the typical mapping of a problem to actually map the value of solutions at a very local scale. Its potential to support environmental justice efforts in Omaha is notable, and it represents a strong partnership between academia and practice, which is the essence of the Deb Mitchell Research Grant,” said Signe Nielsen, FASLA, a member of the LAF Board of Directors and Research Committee and Founding Principal of MNLA.
LAF is pleased to support this important work and its potential to create healthier, more resilient, and equitable communities.
Extreme heat is the leading cause of natural disaster-related deaths in the United States, and the problem is expected to worsen as the effects of climate change intensify. Urban environments are particularly vulnerable to the heat, with hotter temperatures in areas with higher concentrations of concrete and asphalt. Underserved populations are disproportionately affected by heat waves, and the growing frequency and intensity of extreme heat pose a significant public health threat. Mitigating the unequal distribution of intense surface temperatures requires a multifaceted approach, including policy, public health, urban planning, and nature-based solutions. This study aims to develop a toolkit for landscape planners and policymakers to make better-informed decisions in designing more just and equitable cities using commercially available thermal visualization tools to show the positive impacts of nature-based solutions at a more granular level. Equitable access to shade and sensible microclimates should be considered a public health concern and a civic resource shared by all.
Salvador Lindquist is an Assistant Professor in the College of Architecture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His contextually driven research interests explore relational systems thinking at various urban scales.
Keenan Gibbons is an Associate at SmithGroup and Lecturer at the University of Michigan. He is an FAA-certified drone pilot and has expertise in the urban heat island effect.