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Gavin Smith, Ph.D., AICP

Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

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* See Gavin discuss his work in the Landscape Architecture + Environmental Planning department in this video!*

Dr. Smith joined the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at North Carolina State University in January 2019. He holds three degrees from Texas A&M University including a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning, a Master’s degree in Sociology and an undergraduate degree in Sociology.

Smith teaches courses focused on natural hazards, disasters and climate change adaptation as part of a new certificate program located in the College of Design.  In addition, he will help to coordinate a university cluster focused on coastal resilience to include identifying interdisciplinary partnerships to undertake research, teaching and engagement initiatives.  Prior to joining the faculty in the College of Design, Smith was a Research Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning and Director of the Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence, a consortium of more than 25 universities located at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  During his ten years at Chapel Hill, Smith also created and led a 10-credit hour Graduate Certificate in Natural Hazards Resilience and taught at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Venice International University and served as a guest lecturer at numerous universities in the United States and abroad, including Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Indonesia, and Hong Kong.

Smith’s career has emphasized blending practice, applied research, community engagement, and education.  Previous work includes serving as an Assistant Director in the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management where he led the acquisition and relocation of more than 5,000 flood-prone homes, developed a state-wide hazard mitigation planning program that ultimately informed the creation of the national Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 and served as an advisor to Governor Hunt on policies and programs associated with long-term recovery in North Carolina.

Following Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Smith worked in the Mississippi Office of the Governor, serving as the Director of the Office of Recovery and Renewal.  While in this position, he led the development of the concept and wrote policy guidance associated with the 400 million-dollar Alternative Housing Pilot Program, an initiative intended to test the construction and deployment of improved emergency housing alternatives following Hurricane Katrina.

Dr. Smith was appointed as a Senior Recovery Advisor to Governor Cooper and the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management following Hurricane Matthew.  In this role, he led the Hurricane Matthew Disaster Recovery and Resilience Initiative, a team comprised of faculty and students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University focused on assisting six hard-hit rural communities to tackle planning and design challenges that are not traditionally addressed by federal and state agencies.

Smith is an internationally recognized expert on natural hazards, disasters, and climate change adaptation and as such regularly speaks at national and international conferences, conducts media interviews with US and international newspapers, radio and television outlets.  In this role, he has served as an advisor to three US Governors, multiple states, more than 100 local governments, and several nations.

Dr. Smith has published numerous book chapters, peer-reviewed journal articles, and technical reports addressing a range of topics including hazard mitigation, disaster recovery, and climate change adaptation.  In 2011, Dr. Smith completed the text, Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: A Review of the United States Disaster Assistance Framework (Island Press) as well as several book chapters addressing the linkage between hazards analysis, planning, and sustainable development.   Dr. Smith is the co-editor of the text, Adapting to Climate Change: Lessons from Natural Hazards Planning (Springer 2014). His current research focuses on assessing the state of disaster resilient design curricula at US Universities and the role of gubernatorial leadership in disasters.


Doctor of Philosophy in Urban and Regional Planning Specialization: Environmental Planning and Policy, Dispute Resolution, Hazard Mitigation Texas A&M University

Master of Science in Sociology Specialization: Politics of Urban Development, Demography Texas A&M University

Bachelor of Science in Sociology Minor - Organizational Management, Specialization: Urban Sociology Texas A&M University