DDL is excited to welcome Sarah Combs to the team as a Social Connectedness Fellow in partnership with the Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness (SCSC). From May to September, Sarah will work alongside DDL researchers to conduct research to address issues related to social isolation and belonging.

Sarah’s research project will be focused on the UESI’s Water dimension, which has been focused on wastewater treatment and water availability but hasn’t been attuned to issues such as flooding. Her project will investigate the nexus between urban flooding, rapid urbanization, and social and economic inequities. She will select 1-2 cities to evaluate their risk of urban flooding, stage of urbanization, economic inequality and data availability to provide detailed insights on their intersectionality.

The Social Connectedness Fellowship created by SCSC pairs promising Fellows with partner organizations to conduct research related to social isolation and belonging. The Urban Environment and Social Inclusion Index (UESI) created by DDL and funded by the Samuel Family Foundation serves as a tool to understand how urban environmental issues, including climate change and air pollution, disproportionately affect different populations living within cities, as well as how amenities like public transport and tree cover are distributed.

Sarah is excited to embark on this project and to take part in the Samuel Centre’s mission to utilize research to generate a positive impact for her community. “Working with DDL,” she said, “a community that I’ve admired for a long time, and incorporating my interests with intentionality, is incredibly rewarding.”

Sarah graduated earlier this May from UNC-Chapel Hill with a B.S. in Environmental Health Sciences from the top-ranked Gillings Global School of Public Health and a minor in Arabic. Before joining DDL, she worked as a research intern at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park.

Beyond academics and her work with SCSC and DDL, Sarah is an ultimate frisbee national champion and enjoys running and cross-stitching. We are so excited that she is joining our team and are eager to see the results of her hard work this summer.