Browse more profiles
Meet Professor Yu Xiao
Meet Professor Yu Xiao

Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Planning

Enhancing Community Resiliency through Research and Engagement 

PhD, Regional Planning, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008
MUP, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2004
BS, Peking University, 200


  • Associate Professor, Urban Studies and Planning

Community Resilience, Disaster Management, Business Impact, Local Economic Adjustment, Post-Disaster Recovery 

  • USP 452, GIS for Community Development
  • USP 630, Research Design
Local labor market adjustment and economic impacts after a major disaster: evidence from the 1993 Midwest flood

Office: Urban Center, room 320 E
Phone: (503) 725-5169

Professor Xiao is an Associate Professor in the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University (PSU).  Before moving to PSU, she worked for Texas A&M University for nine years.  The main area of her research deals with community resilience with a focus on local and regional economic sustainability and resiliency.  Professor Yu Xiao strives to understand how local and regional economies adjust to uncertainties caused by demand and supply fluctuations or external shocks such as natural disasters.  To fully understand the dynamics of economic adjustment, she has undertaken a mixed-method approach to study economy at various scales ranging from the study of local and regional economies revealing the overall health and prospects of an economy to the study of individual businesses exposing micro-level decision making and the interdependency of households and businesses in community post-disaster recovery.  

In the past few years, as Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator, Professor Xiao received multiple grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study post-disaster recovery.  Through these funded projects, she studied community recovery after 2008 Hurricane Ike in Galveston, Texas, examined the inter-governmental management framework for disaster recovery focusing on the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake in China, and investigated the interdependency of households and businesses in community recovery after 2012 Hurricane Sandy in New York City.  She is currently working on the “Center for Risk-Based Community Resilience Planning” project funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where she works with researchers from over ten institutions to build models to inform risk-based community resilience planning.   

Professor Xiao is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and has been an active member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) and International Association for China Planning (IACP).    

What Professor Xiao has to say...

APPROACH TO TEACHING: I believe that education should empower the human mind with abilities to think, reflect, explore, and create.  A successful education should not only provide adequate substantive knowledge to learners but also teach them to be self-directed in acquiring and creating new knowledge.  This is especially important to the field of urban planning because planners are often called upon to make long-run decisions with uncertainties, and solve complicated problems that involve interests of multiple stakeholders.  There is no single formula to use in dealing with the dynamic reality full of multiplicities and uncertainties.  An attentive, adaptive, and creative mind is necessary for a successful urban planner.  To prepare students for their careers as planners, I teach them to be reflective and adaptive.  
Students learn better when they are motivated and know that what they are learning has great practical value. This is why I frequently use real-life examples to illustrate basic concepts, show students examples from my own research, and engage students in real-life projects.  I am also a believer of active learning.  I encourage students to interact with each other in and outside of my class and use class lectures as a framework for discussion.   

FAVORITE URBAN PLACES: Portland, San Francisco, Chongqing (China), Suzhou (China), Morelos (Mexico) 

FAVORITE NON-URBAN PLACES:  Mountains, seas, anywhere with natural beauty