“Congratulations to Yekang for receiving a CELA Excellence in Research award!” wrote Roxi Thoren, head of the department of landscape architecture. “It’s a well-deserved honor and a wonderful recognition of her outstanding and cutting-edge research on the ‘conflict of greens’—how to define and prioritize green development or habitat protection.”
Ko has been with the School of Architecture & Environment since 2016. She is also the director of landscape architecture undergraduate studies program (BLA) and the program director for the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Hub. Ko is currently building a new research public service initiative, Landscape For Humanity, which aims to build a replicable model that will provide for basic needs such as food, sanitation, and potable water, as well as generating sustainable revenues for low-income communities, specifically the unhoused population.
"Addressing climate change is a complex task and it requires critical thinking. Many ‘green’ actions have their trade-offs. My research asks how design and planning can provide net positive effects to mitigate and adapt to climate change,” Ko said of her research. For example, does urban tree planting really pay us back? If not, what are the socio-ecological causes and how can we address them? How can we increase renewable energy production while not sacrificing wildlife habitats and rural communities? How can we design our cities to be ‘hyper-functional’ to effectively address climate change given limited land areas?”
“Landscape For Humanity is on track to be a key research and curricular hub for the department for decades, and Ko has the proven record to bring the project to fruition,” Thoren wrote.
In December 2019, Ko won another award for research from the UO Resilience Initiative Funding program to examine how to build resilient communities for vulnerable unhoused populations through the lens of integrated social, environmental, and economic justice.
“Over the course of her academic career, [Ko] has developed expertise in urban energy planning, green infrastructure assessment, and climate-responsive urban design,” wrote Professor of Landscape Architecture Bart Johnson in his letter of support. “Her research focus on urban sustainability and sustainable energy landscapes is central to our department’s mission and has contributed to the intellectual rigor of our faculty and degree programs.”