By Jessica Geary M.R.P. ’21
While on the Philadelphia first-year graduate field trip, my favorite tour of the city was with the Philadelphia Water Commission. I was enamored by the commission’s efforts in establishing green infrastructure in the city to relieve its stormwater system. This experience sparked my interest in working in stormwater management, which led me to a summer internship with the Buffalo Sewer Authority.
As a remote planning intern, I am currently focusing my efforts on the Sewer Authority’s first climate vulnerability assessment of socio-economic factors and stormwater systems. To understand the current and future vulnerability of socio-economic status and sewage systems, I have been analyzing climate, stormwater, and census data of Buffalo and Western New York. Specifically, I have been looking at how sensitive and adaptive each component of the sewage system and socio-economic populations are to climate change.
From this analysis, I hope to shed light on how unjust vulnerable populations are to climate change, along with the urgency to invest in more green and grey infrastructure and technology into the sewage system.
Ultimately, I am excited to produce an impactful professional report to the Buffalo Sewer Authority and the city it serves. My work with the sewer authority has been an extremely rewarding experience, and I hope that my knowledge in planning and climate change science will assist Buffalo in becoming more resilient now and in the future. This independent, enlightening, and challenging work has been a reminder as to why I entered the field of urban planning.
Prior to pursuing the Master in Regional Planning degree, Jessica Geary worked as a laboratory technician at Columbia University, studying past climate trends through tree rings. She also served as an Interpretive Park Ranger for various National Park sites. She received her undergraduate degree in Earth Science, graduating valedictorian at William Paterson University of New Jersey in 2017.