About Jessica Debats
Dr. Jessica Debats is a UCI alumnus and an experienced researcher, instructor, and environmental analyst with a Ph.D. in urban planning from MIT. Her research examines the relationship between environmental justice, climate adaptation, and public space, with a focus on urban forestry and urban heat island mitigation in Los Angeles and New York City.
Dr. Debats currently serves as Instructor and Associate to the MIT Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies, the U.S.’s oldest mid-career education program for planners from developing countries. She teaches seminars on climate adaptation, environmental justice, and American culture, politics, history, and urban planning. In addition, she is a member of the MIT Resilient Cities Housing Initiative, which explores how settlements can be designed to respond to the environmental and security challenges of an urbanizing world. Dr. Debats also has experience working for the MIT Office of Sustainability, where she produced data analysis and documentation for campus certification by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, and developed a suite of metrics to track the campus’ consumption of resources, assess vulnerability to flooding and heat under climate change, and guide campus adaptation efforts.
Before coming to MIT, Dr. Debats worked as an environmental analyst and GIS specialist for local governments and environmental consulting firms in Southern California. She holds a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from UCI, a Master of Arts in U.S. History from UCLA, and a Bachelor of Arts in History (summa cum laude) from UCI.