Image: View over Wellington from Mt Victoria



Gavin Smith

North Carolina, USA

Gavin Smith is a Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at North Carolina State University.  His teaching and research focus on hazard mitigation, disaster recovery, and climate change adaptation and the integration of research and practice through deep community engagement.  Educational efforts focus on the oversight and teaching of core courses associated with a 13-credit graduate certificate titled Disaster Resilient Policy, Engineering, and Design. The curricula emphasize interdisciplinary coursework and includes three track options (policy, engineering, and design) developed in partnership with the Department of Public Administration, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning.   

Current research includes assessing the capacity and commitment of university faculty and engagement experts to assist under-represented groups develop and implement hazard mitigation grants, climate resilience, and hazard mitigation plans, and based on that information, developing a national cadre of university officials capable of providing this type of assistance.  Additional research involves developing a coastal hazard overlay district typology to assist communities apply disaster resilient design standards tied to managed retreat/avoidance and protect/accommodate-based strategies.  In addition, Dr. Smith is involved in cross-cultural research exploring lessons from the large-scale acquisition of hazard-prone housing in the US and New Zealand that can be used to inform emerging national managed retreat programs in both countries. 

Dr. Smith has written the text Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: A Review of the United States Disaster Assistance Framework (Island Press, 2011) and served as the co-editor of the text Adapting to Climate Chance: Lessons from Natural Hazards Planning (Springer, 2014) as well as writing numerous peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and practice-oriented reports.  Smith’s past research includes a six-year study assessing the quality of state and local hazard mitigation plans, assessing the state of disaster resilient design education at U.S. Universities, a national survey assessing the role of states in building the capacity of local governments to implement hazard mitigation grants, and a comparative assessment of hazard-prone housing acquisition programs in the U.S. and New Zealand.

Smith has also served as a policy advisor to several nations, states, and local governments addressing planning for post-disaster recovery, flood-hazard risk reduction, and climate change adaptation and has testified before congress, state legislatures, and international committees.  Dr. Smith has advised four governors including Governor Hunt following Hurricanes Fran and Floyd and Governor Barbour following Hurricane Katrina.  During Hurricanes Fran and Floyd, Smith led teams responsible for the acquisition and elevation of more than 5,000 and 500 homes respectively.  In addition, Smith led a team of eight faculty, eighteen graduate students, and two practitioners assist six hard-hit low-capacity communities following Hurricane Matthew in 2014.  This effort, which lasted more than two years, focused on addressing local needs not addressed by FEMA or the State of North Carolina.  Examples include identifying multiple uses for land acquired through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, conducting land suitability analyses to identify locations suitable for the construction of replacement housing outside the floodplain but within the boundaries of towns participating in the buyout, assessing possible flood-proofing techniques for historic downtowns, creating architectural renderings of replacement housing, and developing disaster recovery plans.  As part of a research team, Smith has completed a National Academy of Science report focused on assessing managed retreat strategies in Gulf Coast states and served as an author of the 5th U.S. National Climate Assessment, focused on the southeastern United States.