RESEARCH Affiliates

John Renne John Renne, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Urban and  Environmental Solutions, and Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning
(561) 297-4279

Dr. Renne is a globally recognized expert in Transit Oriented Development (TOD), including sustainable and resilient cities, with a focus on land use and transportation planning and policy. He is an expert in evacuation planning and coined the term “carless evacuation” in 2005. Dr. Renne played a leadership role in the disaster recovery of New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina.
Dr. Renne is experienced in real estate development. He is the founder of the TOD Group and the TOD Index. Dr. Renne is a co-founder of the National Evacuation Conference. He is the Chair of the Transportation and Land Development Committee of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies and he is the chair of the Mobility Committee of the Urban Land Institute’s Southeast Florida and Caribbean District Council.

Dr. Renne serves as a Professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, where he coordinates the undergraduate programs.

Serena Hoermann Serena Hoermann Ph.D., MBA
Associate Director, CUES
(561) 455-7948

Dr. Serena Hoermann is CUES Associate Director, dedicated to research, engagement, and administration. Her research interests include community displacement, resilience, and climate gentrification. She administers the FAU Partnership for Sustainable Communities. She joined URP/CUES in 2017 to support communications and community engagement efforts. One current project, the Urban Stories Festival, uses storytelling to build community. In 2014-2016 she supported FAU's Florida Center for Environmental Studies (CES) as coordinator for the Florida Climate Institute. Google Scholar

CUES Faculty Affiliates 


Lilah M. Besser, Ph.D., MSPH
Research Assistant Professor
Comprehensive Center for Brain Health
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
(561) 869-6811

Dr. Besser is a Research Assistant Professor at University of Miami’s Comprehensive Center for Brain Health in Boca Raton, FL. Her current research is primarily focused on the intersection between neighborhoods, the built and social environment, aging, and brain health.

fred Fred Bloetscher, Ph.D 
Associate Dean,
Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering
(561) 297-0744

Dr. Bloetscher's research includes water resource issues associated with waste disposal, including injection wells, membrane concentrate management, water resource management, utility finance and management, water conservation practices, wastewater disposal practice risk assessments, endocrine disruptor impacts and nutrient impacts in the coastal water of SE Florida.

steve Steven C. Bourassa, Ph.D

H. Jon and Judith M. Runstad Endowed Professor and Chair, Runstad Department of Real Estate, College of Built Environments, University of Washington
Curriculum vitae

chava Jyothi Chava
Affiliated Scholar

Dr. Chava's research focuses on using advanced data science in the fields of transportation and real estate. She analyzes hidden patterns and trends to predict the future and to narrate the stories. She obtained knowledge in various data analytical techniques, programming languages, machine learning algorithms and statistical tools along with various transportation planning packages. One current project is predicting the change in land and rental values and socioeconomic profile of residents around transit station areas, improving public transit reliability using ticketing data.

huber Jeffrey E. Huber, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP
Assistant Professor
School of Architecture
(954) 762-5654 

Dr. Huber's work focuses on interdisciplinary public work projects that combine ecological, landscape, urban, and architectural design. He is currently researching issues of sea level rise in south Florida and has established over a quarter of a million dollars in grant funding in that effort through the National Endowment of the Arts and Florida Sea Grant programs.

yanmei Yanmei Li, Ph.D., AICP
Associate Professor
Department of Urban & Regional Planning
(561) 297-4282

Dr. Li’s research focuses on housing and community development, and real estate and urban economics. She is very interested in policies related to affordable housing, sustainable community development, housing programs for people with special needs, and disaster adaptation and mitigation policies related to housing. She currently conducts research on community social capital and its planning implications, spatial patterns of second homes, and applied planning methods.

merlin Louis Merlin, Ph.D., AICP
Assistant Professor,
Department of Urban & Regional Planning
(561) 440-3185

Dr. Merlin’s current research concerns how to better integrate transportation and land use through the development of accessibility-based performance measures and tools, as well as the implications of self-driving cars for the transportation sustainability.

mitz Diana Mitzova, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Director, Visual Planning Technology Lab
Department of Urban & Regional Planning
John DeGrove Eminent Scholar Chair in Growth Management and Development
Affiliate Associate Professor in the Department of Geosciences
(561) 297-4279

Dr. Mitsova’s research focuses on the use of geographic information systems, spatial and statistical analysis to conduct interdisciplinary research aimed at understanding the interactions between ecosystems and urban environments, and informing sustainable urban planning and environmental practices. Her collaborations include projects with USGS, the National Park Service, The Nature Conservancy, and the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

colin Colin Polsky, Ph.D.
Professor of Geosciences, College of Science
Director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies
(954) 236-1104

Dr. Polsky serves as director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies (CES) with the vision of improving Florida's sustainability through research, education and outreach on wetlands ecology and coastal resilience. CES collaborates with CUES on the FAU Incubator for Sustainable & Resilient Communities.

sapat Alka Sapat, Ph.D.
Professor and Director
School of Public Administration
(561) 297-0443 

Dr. Sapat's expertise encompasses disaster management, public policy processes, vulnerability and resilience assessment, and methodology. She has been involved in a number of initiatives including NSF funded projects on building code regulations, population displacement after disasters and implications for housing, the role of the NGOs in disaster recovery, and critical infrastructure resilience.

hank Hank Savitch, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor
Department of Urban and Regional Planning
(502) 533-5465 

Professor Savitch is a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Washington, DC) and Emeritus Brown and Williamson Professor, University of Louisville. He is currently working on issues related to policy transfer across metropolitan jurisdictions and analyses of regional resilience in the wake of natural disasters.

josh Josh Sawislak, AICP
Affiliate Professional
(703) 981-9424
Curriculum Vitae

Mr. Sawislak is an internationally recognized expert on climate and disaster resilience and sustainable development. He advises governments, corporations, international organizations, and NGOs on policy, implementation, and financial issues around building sustainable and resilient infrastructure in both the developed and developing world.