Sunday, April 1, 2012

Faculty Profile: Dr. Yang Zhang, PhD

Dr. Yang Zhang is an Assistant Professor in UAP at the Blacksburg campus. Although Dr. Zhang grew up in central China, he often refers to the area as the Kansas of China. He earned both his Bachelor of Science in 1997 and Master of Science in 2000 from Beijing University. Subsequently, Dr. Zhang went on to earn his Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Science from Texas A&M University in 2006. He serves as a research fellow of the Next Generation of Hazards and Disasters Researchers Program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). In addition, he is also a research fellow of the Peking University (China)-Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (U.S.) Center for Land Use Policy and Urban Development and of the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center. 

The primary focus of Dr. Zhang’s research is the dynamic interaction between natural systems and human activities. His recent work examines adaptive policies that encompass policy formulation, policy evaluation, capacity building, and policy adjustments, especially through the lens of urban system recovery following catastrophic disasters and adaptive human behavior. His projects are within domestic and international (China) contexts, and a number of his recent research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Virginia Sea Grant, and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Dr. Zhang’s research is mainly quantitative, and his work often demonstrates his skills in Geographic Information System (GIS) and econometrics. 

Getting to Know Dr. Zhang
When asked why the UAP Program at Virginia Tech appealed to Dr. Zhang, he said the faculty members are all very productive in their respective area and because of the vibrant academic environment. He also believes the program is beneficial for students due to the fact that UAP equally emphasizes both teaching and community engagement. Another aspect of the UAP Program that especially appeals to Dr. Zhang is that many faculty members adopt a project-based teaching strategy. He states, “They (faculty members) create opportunities for students to work on real life projects for the surrounding communities.” 

In Dr. Zhang’s spare time, he enjoys running, music, cleaning, yard work, and reading about parenting. Ever since his daughters, Sadie and Sophie, were born, more of his time is dedicated towards reading and learning about parenting. When asked what advice he would give students who are entering the workforce, he said, “Be forward looking. This includes making the best use of the flexibility of the UAP’s course requirements to develop skills that match the market demand. Employers always favor emerging technology and quantitative skills. In addition, the forward looking also includes developing skills to work effectively in an increasingly diverse environment.”

Recent Publications Include: 

·      Zhang, Y., & Zhang, C. (2012) Sustainability, Hazard Mitigation, and Urban Land Use Planning: Best Practices in U.S. and Japan. Beijing, China: Science Press. (forthcoming).
·      Zhang, Y., Y. Song, & C. Ding (2009) “Plan Integration for Coordinated Urban Growth in China.”  Pp. 116-127. In Yan Song, and Chengri Ding (Eds), Smart Urban Growth for China, Cambridge, MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Press.
·      Peacock, W.G., N. Dash. & Y. Zhang (2006) “Sheltering and Housing Recovery Following Disaster.” pp. 258 – 274. In Russell Dynes, Havidan Rodriguez, and Enrico Quarantelli (Eds.) Handbook of Disaster Research, New York: Springer.
·      Zhang, Y. (2011) “Land Use Planning and Resilient City: Lessons from U.S. Experiences.” Journal of International Urban Planning, 26(4): 2-11.
·      Zhang, Y., & W.G. Peacock (2010) “Planning for Housing Recovery? Lessons Learned from Hurricane Andrew.” Journal of American Planning Association. 71 (5): 5-24.
·      Zhang, Y. (2010) “Residential Housing Choice in a Multihazard Environment: Implications for Natural Hazards Mitigation and Community Environmental Justice.” Journal of Planning Education and Research, 30(2): 1-15
·      Zhang, Y., Hwang, S.N., & Lindell, M.K. (2010) “Hazard Proximity or Risk Perception? Evaluating Environmental Hazards’ Effect on Housing Value.” Environment and Behavior. 42(5): 597-624
·      Maranville, A., & Y. Zhang (2009) “An Environmental Justice Analysis, Superfund Sites and Surrounding Communities in Illinois.” Environmental Justice. 2 (2): 49-58.

·     Zhang, Y., M.K. Lindell & C.S. Prater (2009) “Modeling and Managing the Vulnerability of  Community Businesses to Environmental Disasters.” Disasters, 33(1): 38-57.

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