Assistant Professor of Urban Planning Dr. Marccus Hendricks has been awarded an Early-Career Gulf Research Fellowship by The National Academy of Sciences. This unrestricted research award will support Hendricks’ research efforts—which center on the role of critical infrastructure in moderating the impacts of environmental hazards and climate change towards community resilience—through tenure.
“This is an outstanding achievement and reflects Marccus’ tenacity as a researcher and environmental steward,” said Interim Dean Don Linebaugh. “Marccus’ work is at the forefront of a very timely and relevant challenge in today’s urban environment,” continued Linebaugh, who is also Hendricks’ faculty mentor. “This award will allow him to expand his research and impact.”
Hendricks joined the University of Maryland’s Urban Studies and Planning Program in 2016 after completing his Ph.D. at Texas A & M University. His research examines how economic and social instigators—such as stratified social conditions, uneven distribution of resources, unregulated growth, declining built environments and loss of green space—exacerbate hazard exposures, such as floods. His work was inspired by a project with an inner-city community of color in Houston, early in his career, that both engaged and incited advocacy for high school students and their families. This pilot led to more projects and, eventually, a $100,000 National Science Foundation grant, bringing a number of professions into the conversation and into communities. The project is now sustained through Texas A & M’s Institute for Sustainable Communities.
Hendricks contributes a critical voice to the complex subject of disasters as an affiliate of the A. James Clark Center for Disaster Resiliency, the only urban planner on staff. He was recently awarded a Tier 1 research grant from the University of Maryland’s Division of Research to work with an engineering colleague out of the center on a project entitled, Infrastructure, Urban Flooding and its Influence on Social Vulnerability and Mobility: A Place-based Study in Southeast Washington, D.C., one of seven selected for funding out of 33 applications. His expertise in the relationship between infrastructure, environment and social constructs has made him a sought-after voice in the social and economic implications of the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey in Houston and, more recently, Ellicott City’s destructive 1000-year flood, the second to impact the historic town in 18 months.
“Dr. Hendricks’ work has the potential to greatly understand the intersectionality of environmental justice, hazards, climate change, vulnerability and community resiliency, along with advance community-driven infrastructure and public health solutions through citizen science,” said Dr. Sacoby Wilson, Associate Professor in the School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park.
Dr. Wilson, a national expert in environmental justice research, community-university partnerships and citizen science, will act as Hendricks’ mentor for the fellowship program. Under this mentorship, Hendricks hopes to conduct outreach work along the Gulf Coast and further develop existing relationships with community environmental justice groups addressing infrastructure and environmental quality issues in Houston, Texas, and along the Gulf Coast. Paired with considerable outreach and collaboration with community partners, Hendricks hopes to bridge the gap between academia, practice and community to understand and address inequities within the built environment. Hendricks expects his work will offer a model for cities across the country.
“The structure and function of our work in Houston has great implications for other major urban cities around the country, particularly cities along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts,” said Hendricks. “Social challenges are structurally built into flood and stormwater infrastructure planning practice, policy, implementation as well as management and needs research, all of which are especially potential disparities facing marginalized communities.”