Dr. Matthew Malecha is a Professional Research Experience Program (PREP) Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). His research focuses on community resilience to natural hazards—especially the roles of plans, policies, and regulations, and their interactions with underlying social and spatial characteristics. His work has been published in leading planning and hazards journals, including the Journal of Planning Education and Research, Natural Hazards Review, Land Use Policy, and the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. As a postdoc with NIST’s Community Resilience Group, Malecha is exploring community understanding and expectations of resilience, adaptation, and sustainability planning, using social science methods to investigate areas of overlap, barriers to action, and opportunities to improve effectiveness.
Prior to joining NIST, Dr. Malecha worked as a postdoctoral researcher with the NIEHS/NIH Superfund Research Program, helping develop an index for assessing neighborhood vulnerability to the transfer of toxic materials during flood events. During his graduate studies, he helped develop and refine the Plan Integration for Resilience ScorecardTM (PIRS), a method for spatially evaluating community networks of plans and policies with respect to natural hazards. A PIRS analysis helps reveal where and how plans and policies are coordinated or in conflict, and where opportunities exist to strengthen resilience. Later, in partnership with the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Malecha extended the PIRS concept into the realm of disaster recovery, collaborating with Rockport, Texas – a community that had been devastated by Hurricane Harvey – to help strengthen post-disaster planning.
Dr. Malecha currently holds a Faculty Fellowship with the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center (HRRC) at Texas A&M University, where he has also served as an Instructional Assistant Professor, teaching both graduate and undergraduate courses in urban planning. He holds a PhD in Urban and Regional Sciences from Texas A&M University and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota. Before pursuing a doctorate, Malecha was a senior policy planner at the Minnesota Department of Transportation.