Protecting the Urban Environment

Published: Apr 5, 2004

Protecting the Urban Environment


Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, issues such as traffic, sprawl and pollution impact the quality of life of all Marylanders.

The Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education (CUERE), a multidisciplinary research center at UMBC, is on a mission to advance understanding of the environmental, social and economic consequences of the ongoing transformation of the urban landscape.

“I want to make CUERE a center of excellence in environmental research and education with visibility at regional, national and international levels,” says CUERE Director Claire Welty.

CUERE draws talent from a cross-section of UMBC departments including economics, policy sciences, civil and environmental engineering, geography and environmental systems, biosciences, physics, mathematics and statistics, and chemistry/biochemistry.  The center’s research agenda focuses on relationships between natural and socioeconomic processes that occur in urban environments and their impact on public policy.  

Welty, also a professor in civil and environmental engineering with a specialty in hydrology, came to UMBC from Drexel University in October of 2003.

CUERE, a relatively new center at UMBC, received initial support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2001.

Welty is excited about expanding the reach and reputation of the center’s collaborative research and she has a clear vision of how she would like the center to evolve.

Welty’s plans for CUERE are exemplified by many of its current research activities, which are of interest and importance to the greater Baltimore region. They include:

  • State of the Baltimore Region — A triennial “report card” on development and the environment, households and neighborhoods, the economy and workforce, access and mobility, governance and fiscal capacity.


  • The Definition and Measurement of Urban Sprawl — Conceptually defines and empirically measures urban sprawl, and then examines its effect on various indices of metropolitan well-being.


  • Creating an Urban Ecosystem of Blue and Green Space in the Greater Baltimore Region — Examines the interconnectedness of the urban open and waterfront spaces in Baltimore City and how these spaces could be improved.


  • Hydrology, Hydraulics and Hydrometeorology of Flood Response in Urbanizing Drainage Basins —  Focuses on the flood response to patterns of rainfall for warm season systems of thunderstorms and how the response varies with land-surface properties for several study watersheds in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

Welty takes over CUERE leadership from Royce Hanson, who as interim director and professor of public policy helped guide CUERE through its establishment and early years. Hanson is now an affiliated faculty member with CUERE, visiting professor of public policy at UMBC, and research professor at the George Washington University Institute of Public Policy.

“The directorship offers me the perfect opportunity to combine urban policy and environmental engineering with the chance to work in a multidisciplinary setting,” says Welty. “It’s a new challenge and I’m looking forward to working with the UMBC community to help make the public more aware of how environmental science relates to their daily lives.” 




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