Mapping Risk and Resilience in Saint Louis (MaRRS)

An Applied Approach to Achieve Social-Environmental Synthesis

Why MaRRS?

In 1950 the city population for Saint Louis peaked at 856,796.  The 2010 census revealed that the city population was 319,294, which was the lowest recorded population count for the city of Saint Louis since 1870.  The depopulation of the city has contributed to rapid changes in land use, shifting local and regional economies, and environmental degradation.  The social--environmental changes have strained the capacities of the local government to study and understand the complex relationship between the social, economic, and environmental systems.  The challenges that face the city of Saint Louis, and broadly speaking the region, require a new kind of scientific synthesis research that privileges problem solving over academic inquiry. 

MaRRS will give us the opportunity to identify neighborhoods at risk.  MaRRS will also give us the opportunity to identify neighborhoods that are able to produce and accumulate human, economic, symbolic, cultural, and physical capital, which foster resilience.

The Goals of MaRRS are:

  1. To advance the scientific understanding of the complexity of social, economic and environmental systems in Saint Louis;
  2. Work closely with policy makers and community leaders to create a dynamic social--environmental synthesis;
  3. Create social-environmental databases that allows us to use advanced computational tools to understand what is required to make Saint Louis, a socially, environmentally, and spatially just city.
  4. Build social-environmental synthesis capacity among students and researchers; and
  5. Create a research environment that will be reflexive and adaptive to changing and emerging social, environmental, economic, and spatial inequalities.

Outreach with MaRRS

We will conduct three workshops on the epistemology of synthesis.  The first workshop will be for the undergraduate and graduate students.  The second workshop will be for community leaders and local policy makers to learn more about the process of synthesis and to encourage them to take an active role in the research and policy formation process in their local community. The third workshop will be for the Saint Louis Academic community to learn more about the process of synthesis and to encourage them to join diverse collaborations that allows them to develop new skills and ideas outside their disciplinary training.

  • Workshop #1: July 20, 2012 10AM - 1:00 PM. Detailed information and registration HERE, Download Workshop #1.
  • Workshop #2: 01/11/2013 10:00 - 11:40AM (lectures), 1:45 - 3:00PM (hands-on workshop) Detailed information and registration HERE.
  • Brown Bag: An Applied Approach to study the Spatial Hierarchy of Social-Environmental Risk in Saint Louis. Location: Macelwane Hall 342; When: Jan 11, 2013 12PM-1:30PM.
  • Workshop #3: 02/23/2013, flyer
    - 10:00AM - 11:30AM: What is Social Environmental Synthesis?
    - 11:30AM - 12:00PM: Lunch
    - 12:00PM - 01:00PM: Workshop on Social Environmental Synthesis?

MaRRS Research Team

Sarah Coffin, Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Real Estate Development, Center for Sustainability
Kee-Hean Ong, Assistant Professor of Public Health
Ness Sandoval, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice (Project PI)
Wasit Wulamu, Assistant Professor of Remote Sensing and GIS, Center for Sustainability

Training with R

MaRRS is sponsoring 10 hours of training with the R software ( The R training series covers basic statistics to advanced graphical methods. The training is open to faculty and students of Saint Louis University. To register for the tutorials, please contact Dr. Sandoval at at your earlier convenience since the seating is limited. The workshops are free.

  • R Training #1: June 15, 2012 11AM - 12:15 PM, 1:00PM - 2:00PM. (Training Materials Here)
  • R Training #2: June 18, 2012 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
  • R Training #3: July 16, 2012 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM (Training Scripts Here)
  • R Training #4: July 23, 2012 10 AM - 12:00 PM (Training Materials Here)
  • R Training #5: September 14, 2012 10 AM - 12:00 PM (Training Materials Here, SpatialR, newR)

Funding for the MaRRS initiative is provided from a Presidential Research Grant from Saint Louis University. For more information contact Dr. Sandoval at