Suwan Shen

Suwan Shen, Faculty, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, UH Mānoa

Associate Professor
Saunders 107H
(808) 956-7391

Areas of Interest

Climate Change Impact, Critical Infrastructure Vulnerability, Risk Perception and Adaptation


  • PhD, Urban and Regional Planning, University of Florida, Gainesville
  • M.A. in Transportation Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville
  • M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning, University of Florida, Gainesville
  • B.A. in Geographical Information Science, Southeast University, China


Suwan’s primary research focuses on the interaction between critical infrastructure system and the changing environment, with a particular emphasis on climate change vulnerability. Critical infrastructures such as transportation are vital to support social and economic activities. The breakdown of such infrastructures would have devastating effects on public safety and undermine social resilience. In recent years, climate change has become a pressing threat to critical infrastructure, especially in the coastal region. Suwan’s work examines the vulnerability of critical infrastructures and explores the adaptation options to climate change using transportation and land use models, spatial analysis, and environment projection and simulations. Through case studies, Suwan has conducted research to examine the vulnerability of emergency services to projected storm surge, estimate the impacts of sea level rise and changing rainfall patterns on transportation network, evaluate the effectiveness of common adaptation strategies, and explore the factors influencing the local vulnerability and adaptive capacity. While physical performance is important, understanding the social aspect is also crucial for climate change adaptation. Currently, Suwan is working on projects investigating the social sensitivity to the impacts of coastal flooding on transportation, especially for socially vulnerable populations, through community surveys and social media data.

Courses Instructed

  • PLAN 601 Planning Methods
  • PLAN 642 Urban Infrastructure Planning
  • PLAN 670 Interdisciplinary Seminar in Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance
  • PLAN 473 GIS for Community Planning

Selected Books and Publications

Shen, S., Chang, R. H., Kim, K., & Julian, M. (2022). Challenges to maintaining disaster relief supply chains in island communities: disaster preparedness and response in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. Natural Hazards, 1-27.

Lee, J. J. Y., Shen, S., & Nishita, C. (2022). Development of Older Adult Food Insecurity Index to Assess Food Insecurity of Older Adults. The journal of nutrition, health & aging, 26(7), 739-746.

Shen, S., Kim, K. (2020) Assessment of Transportation System Vulnerabilities to Tidal Flooding in Honolulu, Hawaii. Transportation Research Record.

Budd, E., Babcock, R. W., Spirandelli, D., Shen, S., & Fung, A. (2020). Sensitivity Analysis of a Groundwater Infiltration Model and Sea-Level Rise Applications for Coastal Sewers. Water, 12(3), 923.

Shen, S., & Ristroph, E. B. (2020). The Relationship between Climate Vulnerability and Disaster Declarations: A Case Study of Flood-Prone Indigenous Communities in Alaska. Natural Hazards Review, 21(1), 05019004.

Shen, S. Critical Infrastructure and Climate Change. In The Routledge Handbook of Urban Resilience. Burayidi, M. A., Allen, A., Twigg, J., & Wamsler, C. (Eds.). (2019). Routledge.

Qiang, Y. Shen, S., & Chen, Q. (2019). Visibility analysis of oceanic blue space using digital elevation models. Landscape and Urban Planning, 181, 92-102.

Shen, S. Peng, Z.R. (2018). Are Coastal Areas Equally Vulnerable to Sea Level Rise? Exploring the spatial patterns of transportation vulnerability in Tampa Bay region. 97th TRB Annual Meeting January 7-11, 2018, Washington, D.C. TRB Paper 18-06754

Zhang, K., Sun, D. J., Shen, S., & Zhu, Y. (2017). Analyzing spatiotemporal congestion pattern on urban roads based on taxi GPS data. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 10(1).

Shen, S., Feng, X. and Peng, Z.R., (2016). A framework to analyze vulnerability of critical infrastructure to climate change: the case of a coastal community in Florida. Natural Hazards, 84(1), pp.589-609.

Sun, D., Chen, S., Zhang, C., & Shen, S. (2016). A bus route evaluation model based on GIS and super-efficient data envelopment analysis. Transportation Planning and Technology, 39(4), 407-423.

Shen, S., Peng, ZR, Lu, Q. (2015). “Impacts Analysis of Different Network and Land Use Components on Transportation Network Vulnerability Assessment Related to Sea Level Rise and Caused Coastal Flooding”. 94th TRB Annual Meeting, Washington D.C. January 2015, TRB Paper 15-5990

Peng, C., Li, C., Zou, Z., Shen, S., & Sun, D. (2015). Improvement of Air Quality and Thermal Environment in an Old City District by Constructing Wind Passages. Sustainability, 7(9), 12672-12692.

Zhao, L., Peng, Z. R., Yang, F., & Shen, S. (2014). A bid-rent land-use adaptation model for mitigating road network vulnerability and traffic emissions. International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 11(8), 2359-2368.

Shen, S., Peng, Z.R. (2011). “Impact Analysis of Changing Riverine Flood Frequencies Caused by Climate Change on Transportation Infrastructure and Land Use: Case Study of Pensacola, Florida”. TRB 89th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers (No. 11-3575).

Shen, S., Peng, Z.R, Wang, Z., and Salokhe, H., (2010) “Impacts of Vertical Data Accuracy on Estimating the Effects of Sea Level Rise on Local Highway Infrastructure”. TRB 89th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers (No. 10-3961).

Peng, Z.R., Shen, S., Lu Q.C., and Perch, S., (2010) Chapter 35, Climate Change and Transportation, in Handbook of Transportation Engineering Volume II 2e (editor: Myer Kutz), pp. 35.1 – 35.24

Research Projects

Oahu Resilience Hub Action Plan. 2021-2023. City and County of Honolulu Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency.

Assessing the Transportation Adaptation Options to Sea Level Rise for Safety Enhancement in RITI Communities through a Structured Decision Making Framework, Center for Safety Equity in Transportation (CSET). 2019-2020.

Developing an Analytical Framework for Optimizing Disaster Relief Preparedness to Coastal Hazards: A Preliminary Investigation of Factors Affecting Supply Chain Resilience in Hawaii, Pacific Southwest Region 9 University Transportation Center. 2019-2020.

Building Capacity for Climate Adaptation: Assessing the Vulnerability of Transportation Infrastructure to Sea Level Rise for Safety Enhancement in RITI Communities. CSET. 2018-2019. 

Physical Exposure and Social Sensitivity: Estimating Sea Level Rise Impacts to Transportation through Vulnerability Assessment and Social Media Analysis. Pacific Southwest Region 9 University Transportation Center. 2017-2018. 

Waipahu Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Infrastructure Assessment. State of Hawaii Office of Planning. 2017-2018

Assessing the Vulnerability of Coastal Wastewater Infrastructure to Climate Change. University of Hawaii Sea Grant. 2016-2018.