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Academic Research at NYU After Hurricane Sandy

NYU's faculty and research centers continue to play a central role in both local and national efforts for long-term recovery and planning. Use the links below to find out about initiatives at various schools and institutes throughout the Univeristy.

The NYU Institute for Public Knowledge

The NYU Institute for Public Knowledge (IPK), an interdisciplinary, university-wide social science research institute, began investigating what happened during Hurricane Sandy in November 2012. Initiatives included the Superstorm Research Lab, a public forum series on Sandy and climate change, and their partnership with the federal government in leading a resiliency rebuilding project, Rebuild by Design.

Public Forum Series

IPK's public forum series, Sandy, Climate Change, and the Future of New York City, was a set of eight events spread through the winter and spring 2012-2013 that brought together faculty and members of the public to discuss issues brought about or exacerbated by the storm, including housing, infrastructure, security, and climate change.  

The first forum was held in December 2012. Moderated by Chelsea Clinton, the panel featured individual presentations and a discussion between experts Heidi Cullen (Climate Watch), Klaus Jacob (Columbia/SIPA), Dale Jamieson (NYU/Environmental Studies), and Eric Klinenberg (NYU/IPK/Sociology).  

Rebuild by Design

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Task Force selected IPK as their lead partner in an innovative large-scale recovery initiative: Rebuild by Design, a multi-stage design competition to develop resiliency solutions that are both locally contextual and regionally scalable. Designs selected through the competition will be implemented through both public and private funding.

Rebuild by Design created collaborations between design architects, international experts, local communities, and regional stakeholders. Hundreds of design teams were initially tapped to participate. In October 2013, after a months-long series of conversations which IPK organized with communities in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and beyond, HUD selected 10 projects to pursue through to completion backed by private and public funding.

rebuild by design

Superstorm Research Lab  

In November 2012, the NYU Institute for Public Knowledge and the NYU Office of Sustainability supported the creation of the Superstorm Research Lab (SRL), a research collective which has worked to understand the changes in how New York City policy actors, NGO leaders, activists, volunteers, and residents think about social, economic and environmental issues following Hurricane Sandy.

SRL researches discourses concerning climate change, inequity, resilience, and governance coming out of the Superstorm. SRL continues to produce traditional academic articles, but also pushes the boundaries of what it means to do scholarly work founded on the desire to create change. Explore their extensive archive of online resources, including interviews, academic articles, policy white papers, public articles and presentations, a massive public data repository, and best practices guides designed with and for affected communities.  


SRL White paper

NYU Wagner School of Public Service

Several academic instutes within the NYU Robert Wagner School of Public Service have dedicated large amounts of resources to studying the effects of the storm and solutions to the crises it has caused or exacerbated.  

NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management

  • The NYU Rudin Center's pivotal report Transportation During and After Sandy details the strengths and limits of the transportation infrastructure in New York City and the surrounding region. Press coverage praised the report’s analysis of rider frustration levels and system preparedness, as well as its accompanying interactive timeline.
  • Rudin Center researchers surveyed commuters to learn about their experiences of getting to work after the storm. Three hundred-fifteen people in 98 zip codes responded anonymously between October 31 and November 6th, answering questions about their typical and post-Sandy commutes.
  • The Rudin Center report How Social Media Moves New York, Part 2: Recommended Social Media Policy for Transportation Providers, based on an analysis of local transportation providers’ use of social media and a seminar on the subject in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, recommends social media policies for transportation providers seeking to inform, engage and motivate their customers.
  • In Social Media in Disaster Preparation, Response, and Recovery, Rudin Center researchers show that during Superstorm Sandy, social media were the second-highest-rated source of information, ranking higher than other popular sources such as television and radio news, news websites, and community groups.

NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy

  • The Furman Center's report "Sandy’s Effects on Housing in New York City" is a vital analysis of the storm's effects on millions of New Yorkers. The Furman Center worked with the NYU Moelis Institute for Affordable Housing Policy and Enterprise Community Partners to collect data and interpret the demographic characteristics of households that registered to receive assistance from FEMA after being flooded by Sandy’s storm surge.
  • To address the resilience challenges faced by the city’s multi-family housing stock and develop strategies to facilitate their implementation, the NYU Furman Center has embarked on a project to identify cost-effective retrofit solutions for long-term resiliency.

NYU School of Medicine / Langone Medical Center

The NYU Langone Medical Center suffered catastrophic damage and a forced evacuation of its patients during Hurricane Sandy. The long-term consequences are still being felt, but the facilities have been largely repaired and emergency protocols have been revised in the wake of the storm.

Powered by Our People: The Story of Hurricane Sandy, NYU Langone, and New York  


NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering

  • During the year after Hurricane Sandy, a group of engineers, academics, telecommunications and government representatives gathered at at the NYU School of Engineering to reflect on the storm’s impact and brainstorm ways to strengthen networks in preparation for future disasters.
  • NYU School of Engineering Professor Shivendra S. Panwar helped guide the Federal Communication Commission’s post-storm field hearing to examine the challenges that natural disasters like Sandy will pose for the country’s communications networks. Professor Panwar is a faculty member in the electrical and computer engineering department and the NYU WIRELESS group, and director of the New York State Center for Advanced Technology in Telecommunications (CATT).
  • The NYU School of Engineering and the US Army Corps of Engineers co-sponsored a series of presentations to promote technical exchange, collaboration, and numerical modeling to predict future scenarios regarding coastal storms from Maine to Virginia.

NYS RISE Storm Preparedness Initiative

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced the launch of the New York State Resiliency Institute for Storms & Emergencies (NYS RISE), an “applied think tank” led by New York University and Stony Brook University. According to the Governor’s announcement, NYS RISE “will serve as a hub of research and education on emergency preparedness, as well as a clearinghouse of information regarding extreme weather and natural disasters.”


An infographic from "Sandy's Effects on Housing in New York City," published in 2013 by the NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy.

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