A Q&A with Ladd Keith

Dec. 17, 2020
Ladd Keith headshot

Ladd Keith is an interdisciplinary researcher working at the intersection of urban planning and climate change to create more sustainable and resilient cities. He is an Assistant Professor in Planning and Sustainable Built Environments at the University of Arizona College of Architecture, Planning & Landscape Architecture

Keith is the Session Organizer for “Advancing Urban Heat Resilience” at the NCSE Conference 2021 on Thursday, Jan. 7, from 12-12:30 PM EST.

What does your research focus on? What questions are you trying to answer?

My research is at the intersection between urban planning and climate change to help create more sustainable and resilient cities. I am currently exploring the emerging planning and governance of increasing extreme heat risk in cities across the U.S. It’s a complex climate risk and my research often involves transdisciplinary research teams with planners, geographers, climatologists, urban designers, public health experts, and local decision-makers.

Who will be impacted by your work, and how?

Extreme heat is the number one weather-related killer in the U.S., and also impacts things like quality of life, economic productivity, infrastructure, urban landscapes, and even national security. While everyone is impacted by increasing extreme heat, it disproportionately harms marginalized and disenfranchised communities making it critical climate justice issue. I hope my work can help cities pursue more equitable heat planning and governance.

What are the biggest challenges you face in solving the problems your research aims to solve?

My biggest challenge – not enough time! While extreme heat research is growing rapidly right now, there is still so much to understand about how we can better mitigate urban heat factors in the built environment and prepare and respond to extreme heat events. Our cities are far behind where they need to be for extreme heat risk and we need better science, resources, and leadership to help them catch up quickly.

What are you most excited to learn about and/or which session you are most excited to attend during NCSE Drawdown 2021?

I’m interested to see the latest initiatives to improve the scientific basis of environmental policy and decision-making and meet new potential collaborators.

What do you like to do outside of your research?

Spending time with my family and taking our kids to all of the hidden gems across Southern Arizona. And when I have time, reading the latest sci-fi and cli-fi novels.