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Climate Corps​

Applied research and analysis

The New Jersey Climate Change Resource Center Climate Corps is a cohort of outstanding graduate students supporting the Center’s applied research, analysis, and program work. One key facet of Corps members is providing assistance to New Jersey municipalities in assessing hazards from changing climate conditions. Participating students include those in graduate programs in natural sciences, engineering, community planning, and public policy, including fellows in the Rutgers Coastal Climate Risk and Resilience (C2R2) program.

The Climate Corps develops and applies protocols linked to data within Rutgers’ web-based decision support tools to provide municipalities direct technical assistance with hazard mitigation planning; flooding vulnerability; climate resilience planning; Plan Endorsement as per the New Jersey Office of Planning Advocacy resilience guidelines; and the 2021 statutory requirement that the land use plan element of a municipal master plan include a climate-change-related hazard vulnerability assessment.

Climate Corps projects have also included:

  • Support to the New Jersey Blue Acres Program to develop a methodology to inform equitable buyout policies;
  • Direct technical assistance to municipalities undergoing the State Planning Commission Plan Endorsement Process;
  • Direct technical assistance to municipalities examining flooding vulnerabilities and hazards;
  • Evaluation of opportunities to integrate indicators of equity into Rutgers web-based decision support tools; and
  • Educational and communication materials including Story Maps regarding flood hazards facing affordable housing, historic and cultural assets, and healthcare facilities in New Jersey.
  • Research and analysis in support of the CCRC’s State of the Climate report.

Click on the buttons below to explore examples of Corps projects and assessments they have significantly contributed to.


Planning for Resiliency

Elizabeth from NJ Flood Mapper


Understanding Climate Risks

Maurice River Township

Coastal Vulnerability Assessment

Commercial Township

Coastal Vulnerability Assessment

Historic Preservation and Climate Change

NJ Inland and Coastal Flood Risk

NJ Health and Medical Lifelines

Flood Hazard Analysis


Coastal Vulnerability Assessment

Trenton-Resilient New Jersey

Trenton's Response to Climate Change

Salem's Response to Climate Change

Where Are We Now?


Coastal Vulnerability Assessment

Bradley Beach

Flood Hazard Assessment

Highland Park

Current and Future Flooding Scenarios

Energy Burden in New Jersey

A Preliminary Investigation

Meet the Climate Corps

Irawati Anand, Rutgers Climate CorpsIrawati Anand
I am a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student at Rutgers Bloustein School, with experience in housing policy in India. My coursework focuses on environmental planning and GIS. I’m passionate about enhancing urban community resilience and equity, particularly in the Global South, through research grounded in science and collective action. I’m excited to join the Climate Corps to learn about the data analysis, mapping and modeling involved in the preparation of the Climate Change-Related Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (CCRHVA) in New Jersey Master Plans. 

Jonathan DeLura, Rutgers Climate CorpsJonathan DeLura
I am a recent master’s graduate in City and Regional Planning and a current master’s student in Public Informatics at the Rutgers University Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy with experience in data analysis, data visualization, sustainable agriculture, and education. I am passionate about environmentally sustainable and socially just planning and policy informed and driven by data and technology and am committed to assisting governments, communities, and various stakeholders to prepare for, mitigate, and adapt to climate change while ensuring justice for their most vulnerable populations.

Matthew Duca, Rutgers Climate CorpsMatthew Duca
I am a first-year graduate student in the Public Policy program at the Bloustein School, concentrating in economics. In this role, I am working with Robert Freudenberg at the RPA to create an economic report for New Jersey’s coastal municipalities, outlining the costs of climate inaction and the benefits of resiliency infrastructure investment. I grew up in New Jersey and obtained a bachelor’s in political science and economics at The College of New Jersey. Prior to this role, I worked under State Assemblyman Karabinchak researching the economics of renewable energy in the state, and recently worked with the New Jersey Treasury Department conducting tax revenue forecasts and other economic analyses.

Holly Josephs, Rutgers Climate CorpsHolly Josephs
I am a second-year PhD student in civil engineering in Dr. Jie Gong’s lab and a member of the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub team. I study how riverine flooding affects buildings, infrastructure, and transportation networks and create visualizations to support decisions in housing rebuilding choices before and after catastrophic flood events. I work with a great team of people helping to make New Jersey a more sustainable and resilient place. I look forward to participating in Climate Corps so that more New Jersey residents can understand future climate scenarios and make choices to maintain their homes, businesses, and livelihoods. 

Avin Laali, Rutgers Climate CorpsAvin Laali
I am a first-year PhD student in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a focus on infrastructure sustainability and resilience. I have worked on developing automated AI-based solutions for sustainable and resilient infrastructure design, sustainability rating tools, and building information modeling tools. Moreover, my research includes developing optimization frameworks aimed at managing risk factors affecting infrastructure resilience. I have also worked on creating a framework for assessing the most influential factors that impact the sustainability of public-private partnerships regardless of their innate contradictions to sustainability principles. My passion is driven by my commitment to enhancing people’s quality of life, particularly in developing countries, through the provision of efficient, sustainable, resilient, and gender-inclusive infrastructure services.

Junghoon Lee, Rutgers Climate CorpsJunghoon Lee
I am a second-year Master of Public Informatics student at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. I am currently working with Dr. Clinton Andrews and Dr. David Listokin on a project that aims to support the data-driven decision-making processes of local governments in the coastal zone. Before joining my current program, I earned my master’s in urban planning at Seoul National University and worked as a data analytics consultant for four years. My professional background encompasses a range of data analytics projects carried out for local and provincial governments, public institutions, and private companies to support their decision-making processes with data-driven insights and tools.

Will Parker, Rutgers Climate CorpsWill Parker
I am a first-year Master of City and Regional Planning student at the Bloustein School, with a concentration in transportation. I grew up in New Jersey and received my Bachelor in Earth Science and Environmental Studies at Bowdoin College in Maine. In the years before coming to Bloustein, I worked in transportation and conservation, and I spent a year teaching English in Germany. I continue to pursue my interests in transportation and conservation through a planning lens, working to understand how development patterns impact both. I’m excited to join the Climate Corps to produce research on New Jersey’s regulation of development in coastal flooding areas and how it compares to other states’ regulations.

Melissa Tier, Rutgers Climate CorpsMelissa Oberon Tier
I am a fourth-year PhD candidate at the Princeton School of Public & International Affairs, where I work with Dr. Michael Oppenheimer and Dr. Elke Weber at the Center for Policy Research on Energy & the Environment. Her research on climate adaptation policy interweaves topics in multi-level governance, behavioral science, environmental justice, and urban planning. I previously worked as the first Sustainability Program Manager at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. I hold an MSc in Sustainable Urban Development from the University of Oxford and a BA in Psychology from Swarthmore.

Isabella Wamsher, Rutgers Climate CorpsIsabella Wamsher
I am a master’s student in Atmospheric Science. I am from New Jersey but received my bachelor’s degree in Atmospheric Science with a minor in Astronomy from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. My research has focused mainly on tropical meteorology, but I am looking forward to researching weather and climate more close to home in the upcoming months with the Climate Corps.

Meet the Climate Corps

Angel Alguera, Rutgers Climate CorpsAngel Alguera
I am a first-year Atmospheric Science master’s degree student in the Department of Environmental Sciences, and my work focuses on meteorology and applications of climate change resiliency. My professional interests include severe weather forecasting and community preparedness regarding weather-related disasters. I work with Dr. James Shope at the NJ Climate Change Resource Center to produce applied research and reports relevant to New Jersey stakeholders. I currently assist with climate change data analysis, large dataset management, and report writing.

Daniel GilkesonDaniel Gilkeson
I’m a second-year master’s student in the City and Regional Planning Program with a concentration in environmental planning. As a planner, I hope to build more resilient communities in the face of increased risk due to climate change. With the Climate Change Resource Center, I am working on a project to aid the state in an update of its floodplain buyout program, known as Blue Acres, to be more proactive and comprehensive. Prior to this position, I interned in the Community and Economic Development Office at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Association. I’m also an AmeriCorps alum, having completed a year of service working on affordable housing in Nashville, Tennessee.

Benjamin GoldbergBenjamin Goldberg
I am a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student concentrating in climate adaptation and resiliency planning, with experience in sustainable food systems. I joined the Climate Corps last summer to help develop a GIS-based food waste recovery tool, and currently support community resilience through flood vulnerability analysis. I hold a B.A. from Middlebury College and a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture from UC Santa Cruz.

Surya Jacob, Rutgers Climate CorpsSurya Jacob
I am a graduate student in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School concentrating in community development, focused on housing, land and finance, as well as pursuing the Real Estate Development/Redevelopment Certification. Prior to Bloustein, I worked as an architect and interior designer in India and Canada and am pivoting towards a career in urban planning to engage in extensive projects at the macro level. My interests include affordable and mixed income housing, urban redevelopment, and housing finance, and I am deeply passionate about climate resilience in community planning. Being part of Climate Corps is a foundational step towards helping to solve equity issues in vulnerable communities along the coastal region.

Vineesh Das Kodakkandathil, RutgersVineesh Das Kodakkandathil
I am an urban planner with five years of professional experience in community-led ecotourism development and land use and environment management planning in ecologically sensitive areas. I have worked on and conducted extensive environmental sensitivity analyses, flood and landslide vulnerability assessments, and human impact assessments with the help of GIS tools. I’m currently pursuing my master’s in City and Regional Planning at Bloustein School with a concentration in Transport Planning and GIS.

Douglas LeungDouglas Leung
I am working with the Climate Change Resource Center to identify vulnerable communities and places affected by climate-induced flooding in coastal New Jersey municipalities. I am a Master of City and Regional Planning candidate at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. As a planner, I want to develop strategies and solve problems affecting our cities and communities that enable more equitable outcomes in housing and transportation. I am also a recent Army veteran, having served as a company commander of recruiting in the northern suburbs of Chicago and as a reconnaissance platoon leader in the 10th Mountain Division. For fun, I enjoy weightlifting, running, reading fiction, and board games.

Nihar MhatreNihar Mhatre
I am a master’s candidate in city and regional planning at Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, focusing on urban design and land use planning. Before being accepted at Rutgers, I worked as an architect at JD Studio and had my own architectural practice, Vastu Insights. My research interests revolve around designing and developing climate change adaptation and resilience strategies to promote equity in urban landscapes. Having the opportunity to work on real-world projects through Climate Corps will be an essential step in the development of my understanding of addressing climate change issues in vulnerable regions.

Justin MorrisJustin Morris
Justin is a master’s student at Rutgers University studying discovery informatics and data sciences. He is working under Professor Mark Rodgers to develop an optimization model that will act as a decision support tool for university financial investments with the end goal of eliminating Rutgers’ scope 2 emissions. He is excited to apply his background in data analytics and mathematical programming to help the university fight climate change.

Josephine O'GradyJosephine O’Grady
I am a first-year student in the Master of Public Policy program. Through the Coastal Climate Risk and Resilience (C2R2) certification, I am focusing a significant portion of my graduate coursework on topics including coastal geomorphology, environmental justice, and hazard mitigation planning. Before beginning my studies at the Bloustein School, I received my bachelor’s degree in public health from Kean University, where I first became interested in how coastal dynamics shape lived experiences. I previously served as an intern at the New Jersey State Policy Lab and currently work for the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub (MACH) team.

Jessica Parineet Jessica Parineet
I am a first-year Master of Public Policy student at the Bloustein School with a strong interest in climate change policy and related topics. In my previous work, I gained experience in a number of dimensions of climate change issues through carbon capture storage research, urban heat island research, and community level engagement as I am currently on the Student Advisory Board for the Rutgers Office of Climate Action. I am excited to expand on my interests in environmental justice and local level resilience planning through my involvement in the Climate Corps.

Dillon Patel Dillan Patel
I am a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student concentrating in Environmental Planning and International Development. I have previously worked as an economist performing cost-benefit analysis and conducting monitoring and evaluation for renewable energy in developing countries. I have also spent a summer in western Massachusetts mapping stormwater infrastructure and working with planners to identify suitable places for green stormwater infrastructure.

Moira Sweeder, Rutgers Climate CorpsMoira Sweeder
I am a graduate student enrolled in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School. My concentration is environmental planning with a focus on coastal resilience. Before pursuing my master’s degree at Rutgers, I studied sustainability at Stockton University. During this time, I interned for the PSEG Institute of Sustainability Studies, the Jacques Cousteau National Estuary Research Reserve, and NJ Audubon. I am thrilled to now be a part of the Climate Corps, researching coastal resilience as a part of the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub (MACH) team.

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