Ribe visits Switzerland to teach and assist wind energy research

University of Oregon Professor Robert Ribe joined the faculty of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich as guest professor during spring term, collaborating with faculty, students, and researchers in the Planning of Landscape and Urban Systems Institute.

The institute is a leading center for research that integrates landscape visualization, geographic information systems (GIS), social science, ecology, and public participation in addressing regional and urban planning problems in Switzerland and around the world.

Professor Robert Ribe (third from right) on the rooftop terrace outside the ETH-Zurich Institute for Landscape Architecture with PhD students (from left to right) Enrico Celio, Thomas Klein, Bettina Weibel, Andrea Ryffel, (Ribe), Michel Ott, and research associate Maarten Van Strien.Ribe engaged with research exploring how changing social and economic circumstances and goals may conflict with Swiss aesthetic preferences for traditional landscapes, how alternative watershed plans can protect such landscapes, and how visualizations can assist urban planners in making socially acceptable zoning changes and project designs. In addition, he conducted a seminar for graduate students about the application of social psychological research methods to the measurement and valuation of ecosystem services, and theories of investment analysis that can assist in integrative trade-off analysis across diverse ecosystem services.

Ribe’s primary research collaboration in Zurich is on the development of planning methods to find feasible sites for wind energy development in Switzerland that have low aesthetic impacts on traditional landscapes, tourism, and habitats.

“This project is also developing methods to simulate the sights and sounds of ‘wind parks’ in highly realistic, three-dimensional ways,” Ribe said. “The aim is to enable members of the public to freely wander in a virtual landscape using a hand-held game console to experience what a wind park would be like, both within and from afar, near their community. This could help inform communities about alternative wind park project locations and designs so they can decide whether to accept their construction.”

Ribe is collaborating with the director of the ETH institute, Dr. Adrienne Grêt-Regamey, and PhD student Madeleine Manyoky on this wind energy planning research. They are also writing articles on methods of landscape ecosystem service planning and evaluation.

Ribe is director of master’s studies in the Department of Landscape Architecture in the School of Architecture and Allied Arts at UO. He has served as director of the UO Institute for a Sustainable Environment for ten years, and is a participating faculty member in the community and regional planning and environmental studies programs. He offers courses in landscape analysis, landscape planning, research methods, digital media, and design studios, and specializes in public perceptions of public lands, forests, and their management.

Ribe has professional experience planning and designing energy projects and river conservation programs in the western United States. He received his bachelor’s degree in geography and urban planning from the University of California Riverside, master’s degrees in landscape architecture and economics from the University of Wisconsin Madison, and a PhD in land resources from the Gaylord Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin Madison.