Sutley headshot

Associate Professor Elaina Sutley leads new NSF-funded research at the University of Kansas.

A University of Kansas engineer is part of an international team to develop strategies for relocating people, property, and infrastructure away from areas vulnerable to extreme weather.

Elaina Sutley, associate professor of civil, environmental, and architectural engineering and associate dean in the University of Kansas School of Engineering, has received a $650,910 U.S. National Science Foundation Office of International Science and Engineering award.

The three-year project is titled “NSF-NFRF: Retreating from risk (RFR): Decision-supports for the equitable implementation of retreat to build climate resilience.” It will analyze past managed retreat initiatives across Canada, the U.S., and Indonesia to understand the complexities, best practices, and decision criteria facing communities at the frontlines of flooding from storms and rising sea levels. This includes Kansas, with a portion of the research linking to Johnson County’s voluntary home buyout program, which seeks to proactively purchase and remove homes from flood-prone areas.

“This is a particularly exciting award (to me) because it is an international collaboration,” Sutley said. “It is also exciting because of the topical area…where we will be able to expand our partnership with Johnson County, Kansas through research on their buyout program.” 

The grant is awarded to KU with subcontracts to Stony Brook University and Texas Tech University. Canadian and Indonesian partners received their own separate awards from organizations that are equivalent to the NSF.

The project relates to ARISE, a five-year NSF investment in Kansas co-led by Sutley aimed at promoting adaptive and resilient infrastructure systems driven by social equity.