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Honors student to investigate coastal resiliency efforts as fall Vinson Fellow

October 13, 2017 | Students

By Bailey Shea

Bailey Shea

Honors student to investigate coastal resiliency efforts as fall Vinson Fellow

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as a Vinson Fellow during my last semester at the University of Georgia. The Carl Vinson Institute of Government has the unique privilege and responsibility of supporting governments in Georgia and beyond through policy research and public service, and I am proud to be a part of that.

As a  Vinson Fellow, I will build on the knowledge of environmental policy that I have cultivated as an economics student. In my time at UGA, I have worked extensively to promote sustainability on campus and in the Athens community, serving as both the grants programs and sustainability metrics intern at UGA’s Office of Sustainability. In addition to this work, I have always pursued environmental policy research in the classroom. The Vinson Fellowship will allow me to apply my research to a specific area that is extremely relevant in policy-making today.

I am honored to be conducting my research this semester under the mentorship of Leigh Elkins, a senior public service association with the Institute’s Planning and Environmental Services unit. Her knowledge of community planning, water management and landscape architecture has already informed my interests, and I am excited to work with her.

My research will focus on resiliency efforts to combat flood risks on Skidaway Island. Skidaway and the rest of coastal Georgia will continue to face increased flood risks from catastrophic weather events and rising sea levels in the coming decades. It is vital that resiliency efforts are implemented in these communities, but there are some things that green infrastructure and disaster management planning cannot prevent and at some point rebuilding may become economically unfeasible. I am interested in exploring this tipping point—when, for example, may FEMA buyouts be more economical than rebuilding homes that face repetitive flooding? With Ms. Elkins’ assistance, I plan to explore this question and its implications for policy-making.

I am excited to be pursuing relevant research that will ultimately help ensure the safety and sustainability of Georgia’s coastal communities. Through the support of the Institute of Government and the insight of experienced advisers like Ms. Elkins, I am confident that I will be able to make meaningful progress in creating solutions for one of the most critical economic and environmental issues impacting our state today.


Bailey Shea, a senior honors student from Bogart, is majoring in economics with a concentration in public policy and sustainability. She is a member of the Parking and Transportation Services Student Advisory Board and  Phi Beta Kappa and as past president of Students for Environmental Action successfully procured funding for the ReCYCLE Program on campus. She is currently an intern with the UGA Office of Sustainability. Her research interests include analyzing the intersection of economic and environmental development decisions and their impact creating sustainable communities.