Thursday, January 10, 2013

Prof. Michelle Oswald writes about a constantly evolving concern: adapting infrastructure to climate change

        Michelle Oswald, Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering

What writing project(s) are you working on right now?
I am currently writing two journal papers on the topic of climate change adaptation and transportation. One of the papers is an evaluation of current transportation planning agencies and their level of progress with adapting to climate change impacts such as sea level rise, temperature changes and extreme weather events.  The other paper focuses on how transit agencies throughout the country can start prioritizing rail and bus network projects in order to protect and prepare facilities for climate change impacts.

What do you love about it?
I love the fact that this topic is so innovative and timely to our infrastructure needs. Climate change projections are constantly improving and as a result, understanding how this effects transportation infrastructure is extremely valuable. Planners and engineers have the opportunity to design and protect existing and future transportation systems from flooding, extreme heat waves, sea level inundation, etc.  Therefore, writing about this topic just emphasizes its importance and disseminates examples and ideas for agencies to move forward and take action.

What about it (if anything) is driving you nuts?
One of the challenges I have faced is that the topic of climate change is always evolving.  As a result, background literature on this topic is being updated and published everyday. I aim to have the most up-to-date information and examples incorporated into my writing, and therefore, staying in tune with the latest publications, reports, news articles, etc. is very important. 

How would you describe your writing process?
I have found the writing process to be pretty iterative as a result of the evolving literature review.  Although I have written the background section, I keep revising and adding more to in order to stay up-to-date.  I have used an outline format throughout both journals and this really keeps me on track.  I take it one section at a time and then always reread before moving on.  Taking breaks after each major section has also helped thanks to participating in the Writing Boot Camp this winter!

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