Landscape architecture professor recognized for interdisciplinary research

Hong Wu, at left, accepts her 2023 Excellence in Research and/or Creative Work Award from Simon M. Bussiere, second vice president of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture.
Hong Wu accepted the 2023 Excellence in Research and/or Creative Work Award from Simon M. Bussiere, second vice president of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, at the CELA annual conference in San Antonio earlier this month. Credit: Dongying Li.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Hong Wu, associate professor of landscape architecture in the College of Arts and Architecture's Stuckeman School, has been awarded the 2023 Excellence in Research and/or Creative Work Award (Junior Level) by the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, the premier international organization for educators in landscape architecture. According to CELA, the award “acknowledges truly outstanding, innovative and noteworthy research and/or creative works related to the landscape architecture discipline.” Wu, who is a co-funded faculty member of the Institutes of Energy and the Environment (IEE) at Penn State, was recognized for her extensive collaborations across disciplines and institutions, involvement in more than 25 research projects totaling $7 million in funding, and a long list of peer-reviewed publications. Since joining the Department of Landscape Architecture faculty at Penn State in 2016, Wu has balanced teaching and research with particular interests in watershed planning and management, green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), urban river restoration, landscape performance, urban sustainability, and landscape planning and design. Wu is the director of the Penn State Stormwater Living Lab (PSSLL), which comprises a large interdisciplinary team with more than a dozen faculty members and extension educators. Funded by a University Strategic Initiative Seed Grant, the lab endeavors to integrate GSI research, education and outreach to help build long-term community capacity to implement cost-effective solutions and transform Penn State into a national GSI leader. “I am extremely fortunate to work with very knowledgeable and dedicated colleagues, such as Shirley Clark [professor of environmental engineering at Penn State Harrisburg], Lauren McPhillips [assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and of agricultural and biological engineering], Margaret Hoffman [assistant professor of plant science], Daniel Brent [assistant professor of agricultural economics, sociology, and education] and Penn State Extension's water resources educators Jennifer Fetter and Andy Yencha.” Since the PSSLL's establishment in 2019, the team has garnered $942,969 in internal and external funding for at least 14 research projects on the environmental, social and economic aspects of GSI. A member of the University's Water Council since 2019, Wu currently serves as the council co-chair, further connecting her to the wider Penn State research community. “We can easily get isolated with a full workload, especially in landscape architecture with long studio teaching hours. My role with the Water Council required me to help develop the water community at the University and drive University-wide water research and education. It also brought me tremendous opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration,” said Wu. One such opportunity is the Baltimore Social-Environmental Collaborative (BSEC), which recently received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Urban Integrated Field Laboratory Program to study the effects of climate change on Baltimore's built environment while exploring equitable mitigation solutions. Wu was also a co-principal investigator on the “Firescapes in the mid-Atlantic: Mismatches between social perceptions and prescribed fire use” project, funded by the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) and led by Erica Smithwick, distinguished professor of geography and director of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. In her award nomination letter for Wu, Smithwick noted, “Largely because of Hong's contributions, we were selected as one of three projects to be presented to the JFSP governing board as an example of how to do interdisciplinary research on the social-ecological dimensions of prescribed fire. Collectively, Dr. Wu's research/practice is recognized to be in the top ranks of scholars nationally, and her research is contributing to new research pathways and designed solutions in urban/green infrastructure, stormwater management and landscape sustainability. It is an honor to be her colleague.” Wu said she is humbled by the CELA award and that she is grateful for the opportunity Penn State provides to collaborate with researchers across a wide span of disciplines and units. “The honor is truly mine to work alongside so many remarkable mentors, colleagues, and students at Penn State,” she said. “I am deeply grateful to CELA for this incredible honor, which will undoubtedly open new opportunities for my future work. I am eager to build on this momentum and continue making meaningful contributions to the field of landscape architecture.” For more news from the Stuckeman School, follow us on Twitter @StuckemanNews.