Luis E. Santiago: Coastal Indicators to Plan for the Sustainable Recovery of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

Luis E. Santiago (Ph.D. CRP '99) is an associate professor at the University of Central Florida School of Public Affairs. He also served as a professor at the University of Puerto Rico Graduate School of Planning. Santiago holds a doctoral degree in city and regional planning from Cornell University and conducted postdoctoral work at Rutgers University. His interest in the role of ecosystem services in planning has led him to participate as co-PI in the NASA Puerto Rico Human Impacts of Coastal Ecosystems and the National Science Foundation's San Juan Urban Long-Term Research Area-Exploratory projects, among other research efforts. Santiago has authored and coauthored more than 15 peer-reviewed publications, mentored 18 master's students, and established a planning exchange program between the University of Puerto Rico and Feng-Chia University in Taiwan.


On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, bringing sustained category four winds and up to 45 inches of rain. Residents experienced widespread flooding, vegetation loss, and physical infrastructure systems failure. Santiago's study assessed post-hurricane changes in green, blue, and gray infrastructure and associated changes in ecosystem service provision levels at two coastal sites. The research team aims to develop a coastal marine ecosystem databank that will inform extreme event planning and emergency response efforts. Post-hurricane coastal infrastructure and ecosystem services data became critical due to the magnitude of losses in community assets, resulting in fragmentation and displacement.