LBJ Graduate Jessica Jones Accepts New Position as Research Associate

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July 25, 2022
Headshot of Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones, a recent graduate from The University of Texas at Austin, has joined the LBJ School of Public Affairs team as a Social Science/Humanities Research Associate. In this new position, she will collaborate with faculty in both the LBJ School of Public Affairs and Jackson School of Geosciences to support the City of Austin’s work planning and implementing resilience hubs around the city.  

“Having the ability to support community resilience efforts is a dream come true for me,” Jones said. “My research and training have shown me that creating, building, and maintaining sustainable community engagement efforts is complex and challenging but extremely rewarding and important." 

According to the City of Austin, resilience hubs are “a series of community-focused facilities that offer day-to-day services and support the community before, during, and after a disaster.” Marc Coudert, the Environmental Conservation Program Manager with the Office of Sustainability, hopes that the collaboration between the City of Austin and UT Austin research departments will incorporate true community engagement into the planning process for these centers.  

“Ultimately, this is about the community,” said Coudert. “Having Jessica coordinate UT faculty and City Departments will help community members, and all parties, succeed.” 

In her new role, Jones will identify best practices in long-term community engagement efforts and help create trainings around resilience hub efforts. Jones’ master's thesis explored neighborhood preparedness efforts across North America and she plans to use findings from this research to support the City’s resilience hub efforts. 

The City’s long-term goal is to have a resilience hub with backup power supply, refrigeration capability, and shelter within 15 minutes walking distance of every residence in Austin. These centers, which could be set up in existing community assets like churches and libraries, would be available in case of emergencies like Winter Storm Uri or to serve as additional cooling centers during record-breaking extreme heat events, according to LBJ professor Dr. Patrick Bixler.  

“This project is a unique opportunity to better integrate the work that is being produced by the Jackson School and the LBJ School with the City of Austin’s needs,” said Dr. Bixler.  

Jones previously worked alongside Dr. Bixler supporting the Austin Area Sustainability Indicators (A2SI) project while a graduate student earning a dual MPAff/MSCRP degree. Her work included collaborating with a local nonprofit, Go Austin! Vamos Austin! (GAVA) to develop data briefs around Austin’s social capital and health indicators in much of the City’s eastern crescent.  

Much of Jones’ new role will involve expanding upon the community engagement and research she did while working with GAVA to support community support systems throughout Austin to help foster and build community resilience.

“My educational training in community and regional development and public affairs and my work with Go Austin Vamos Austin, the City's Office of Sustainability and researchers across UT have prepared me well to support resilience efforts in Austin," said Jones.  

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