Member Spotlights: Sara Meerow

Sustainable Urban Systems

Dr. Sara Meerow is a new assistant professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University. She is an interdisciplinary social-ecological systems scientist working at the intersection of urban geography and planning. Her research tackles the challenge of how to make cities more resilient in the face of climate change and other social and environmental hazards. She combines more conceptual studies of urban resilience with empirical research on the complexities of green infrastructure and climate change adaptation planning in a range of cities, from Detroit to Manila. She earned her PhD in 2017 from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment (now the School for Environment and Sustainability). She also has an MS in international development studies from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and a BA in political science and history from the University of Florida.

 Sara’s main research interest areas:

  • Urban resilience
  • Green infrastructure
  • Urban climate change adaptation

Sara’s favorite cities and why:

“I've enjoyed all the cities I've lived in, in part because they are so different. I love the beaches in Miami, the mountains around Phoenix, and the walkability of Ann Arbor. But if I had to choose my favorite I'd probably say Amsterdam. It's rich in history, diverse, compact, cozy (gezellig as the Dutch would say), and of course has the most amazing bicycle infrastructure!”

Sara’s thought on collaboration:

“My background is more in the social sciences, but I really enjoy working on interdisciplinary, collaborative projects and I strongly believe that we cannot build resilient cities without integrating social, ecological, and technical domains.”

How Sara got interested in cities research and sustainability:

“ have always been fascinated and energized by cities, which on the one hand are an impressive testament to human ingenuity, but on the other hand are highly vulnerable. When planned well they are such inspiring places, but if not, they can be absolutely miserable. My academic career over the last decade has taken me from the sprawling suburbia of South Florida to the contrasting cities of Amsterdam, Bangkok, Manila, and Detroit. Observing the diverse problems these cities face has strengthened my conviction that urban resilience is critical, but that planning for it is inherently complex, contested, and multidisciplinary.”

**This is part of the Sustainable Urban System Member Spotlight series. Read more here.**