Jinzhe Wang

My Roepke undergraduate research project with Dr. Julie Cidell focuses on “Railyards Redevelopment and Environmental Justice in Kansas City”. The main objective of this project was to understand the intricate interplay between urban growth, environmental sustainability, and social equity in the context of Kansas City's railyards.

My role as a research assistant involved actively gathering and analyzing data related to the redevelopment trends of the railroads over the past 50 years. I've employed various data sources to track the evolution of these railyards and assessed demographic and income trends to discern patterns or disparities in living conditions of the residents in proximity to these railyards.

For this project, I used geographic concepts such as spatial analysis and environmental equity. I utilized tools like ArcGIS Pro for data analysis and visualization. Specifically, I studied historical maps to track changes in the railyards and subsequently re-projected these maps using ArcGIS Pro, delineating the railyards as polygons. I also created buffer zones around these railyards for a focused analysis on the residents living within a certain distance. By overlaying demographic and income data on these spatial mappings, I could visually correlate the redevelopment of railyards with potential changes in the socio-economic conditions of the nearby communities. These techniques offered a clear, spatial visualization of the topic, making it easier to understand the relationship between the city's development, railyard changes, and the conditions of its residents.

This project has not only deepened my understanding of the relationships between cities, their environments, and their residents but has also sparked my interest in environmental justice and urban planning. Seeing the challenges faced by people in urban settings has made me want to work towards fairer city development. As a result, I'm thinking more and more about a career in urban planning, especially with a focus on environmental justice. And as I'm planning to apply for graduate school, this project has helped solidify my interest in this field. I'm seriously considering further studies to dive deeper into these topics in the future.