2020 Early Stage Urban Research Awards
In Spring 2020, the Initiative on Cities issued its sixth request for proposals to support early stage academic research endeavors focused on urban challenges and urban populations, both domestic and global. We received 27 applications from 16 schools and departments at BU, and and we are thrilled to announce we have funded ten projects, including two from interdisciplinary teams. Topics include studying female homeownership in U.S. cities, exploring civil service reform, research about urban greenspace and health, and projects in Istanbul, Turkey and Copenhagen, Denmark. Below is information about each funded project, sorted by topic:
Urban Heat Exposure, Cooling Demand and Electricity Consumption under Future Climate Change: an Empirical Approach
PI: Yasmin Romitti, PhD student, Department of Earth and Environment, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and BU URBAN Program
Co-PIs: Yan Sue Wing, PhD, MSc, Professor, Department of Earth and Environment, College of Arts & Sciences; and Dan Li, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Environment, College of Arts & Sciences
Romitti, Sue Wing, and Li will empirically project the decreases in electricity demand for heating and increases in electricity demand for cooling in urban areas as a consequence of mid-century climate change.
Assessing the association between combined sewer overflow events and gastrointestinal illness in the Merrimack Valley
PI: Beth Haley, MA, PhD Student, Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health and BU URBAN Program
Co-PIs: Wendy Heiger-Bernays, PhD, Clinical Professor of Environmental Health, School of Public Health; and Jacqueline Ashmore, PhD, Executive Director of the Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy and Research Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering
Collaborator: Jyotsna S. Jagai, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, The University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health
Haley, Heiger-Bernays, Ashmore, and Jagai will investigate the relationship between combined sewer overflow (CSO) events and gastrointestinal (GI) illness in communities in the lower Merrimack River Valley of Massachusetts. This research builds on previous work by Jagai that found a significant relationship between extreme rainfall (a proxy for CSO events) and GI illness in this region.
Effects of Greenspace Structure on Urban Tree Health and Human Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter: A Biogeochemical Analysis and Exposure Assessment
PI: Jenna Rindy, MS, PhD Student, Department of Biology, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and BU URBAN Program
Co-PIs: Pamela Templer, PhD, Department of Biology, College of Arts & Sciences and Director of BU URBAN Program; Kevin Lane, PhD, MA, Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health; and Lucy Hutyra, PhD, MA, Department of Earth & Environment, College of Arts & Sciences and Associate Director of BU URBAN Program
Rindy, Templer, Lane, and Hutyra will examine the relationship between greenspace structure (urban and rural forests vs. open fields) and the ability of vegetation to reduce concentrations of the air pollutant fine particulate matter. The team will also determine the sources of the particles and whether housing proximity to varying greenspace structures affects human exposure to fine particulate matter.
Mixed-methods Study of Female Homeownership in U.S. Cities
PI: Japonica Brown-Saracino, PhD, Professor, Department of Sociology, College of Arts & Sciences and BU Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program
Co-PI: Robin Bartram, PhD, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Tulane University
Brown-Saracino and Bartram will explore the origins and uneven distribution of single female homeownership rates across the United States, examining correlations between rates of female homeowners and indicators of social economic inequality. Understanding these concepts will be important to further examine how homeownership intersects with economic opportunity and social equality in contemporary U.S. society, and how gendered population dynamics emerge from and contribute to urban politics, culture, tourism, and patterns of consumption.
The Politics of Rent: Power & Inequality in Low-Income Neighborhoods
PI: Nicholas J. Henninger, MPP, PhD Candidate, Department of Political Science, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Co-PI: Katherine L. Einstein, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, College of Arts & Sciences
Henninger and Einstein will analyze the political power of landlords in US cities, with a particular focus on landlords operating in low-income and/or majority-minority neighborhoods. Using comprehensive rental property data, voter files, political donation data, and other information from more than twenty US cities, the researchers will highlight distinct differences in landlords across urban space and time. The researchers will then show how these landlords achieve their political goals at the municipal and state-level.
The Effects of Social Housing on Neighborhoods: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Copenhagen
PI: Yuhei Miyauchi, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, College of Arts & Sciences
Co-PI: Linh T. Tô, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, College of Arts & Sciences
Collaborator: Bence Bøje-Kovács, Postdoctoral Researcher, Aalborg University
Miyauchi and Tô investigate how social housing assignments for disadvantaged households influence their new neighbors’ economic and social outcomes in Denmark.
Socio-Spatial Politics of Risk Mitigation: Building-Scale Urban Transformation Maps of Istanbul, Turkey
PI: Ladin Bayurgil, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Co-PI: Japonica Brown-Saracino, PhD, Professor, Department of Sociology, College of Arts & Sciences and BU Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program
Ladin’s research monitors and evaluates social, economic, and ecologic impacts of risk-mitigating urban policies. Through GIS mapping techniques, Ladin will generate a map of Turkey’s biggest city Istanbul’s earthquake risk mitigation efforts, particularly ongoing earthquake-risk driven urban transformation projects. This research allows academics and policy-makers to clearly assess the impacts of urban growth and neighborhood change.
PI: Cynthia Becker, PhD, Associate Professor of African Art, Department of History of Art & Architecture, affiliated with the African Studies Center and the African American Studies Program
Becker uses the current debate around Confederate monuments as a springboard to consider the role counter-monuments play in urban environments, looking at them as structures and performances created to preserve marginalized histories. This project looks at how people have begun to reconsider their relationships to urban monuments and the political figures they memorialize and asks how we can rewrite the history of our cities to include multiple voices, including those often left out of official archives.
The Effects of Civil Service Reform on Local Government: Evidence from the Progressive Era
PI: James Feigenbaum, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, College of Arts & Sciences
Co-PI: Abhay Aneja, JD, Assistant Professor of Law, UC Berkeley School of Law
Feigenbaum and Aneja will explore the effects of civil service reforms during the early 20th century on American cities, their citizens, and on the patronage employees targeted by these reforms. Reforms during the growth and development of cities, many of which included merit systems, are key to understanding the development of local and state governments and politics. Evaluating the effects of these reforms will highlight how public sector employment was shaped, and will help to understand the consequences and challenges of urban governance reform.
Addressing the Workforce Needs of Youth in Urban Settings: A Study of Local Workforce Development Boards’ Inclusion of Youth Expertise
PI: Mary Collins, PhD, MA, Chair of Social Welfare Policy & Professor, School of Social Work
Collins aims to understand how Local Workforce Development Boards in urban areas address the needs of opportunity youth by focusing on implementation processes, inclusion of youth perspectives, and key policy networks at local and state levels.