Wanyun Shao

Associate Professor


  • PhD, Geography, Louisiana State University, 2012
  • MP, Planning, University of Wyoming, 2009
  • BSc, Geography, Jilin University (China), 2006

Research Areas

  • Human dimensional climate change and natural hazards
  • community vulnerability and resiliencce
  • social response to hydrological hazards


Research Affiliations

Research Groups


Dr. Wanyun Shao is currently an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Alabama. She is a fellow for the National Science Foundation Enabling Next Generation of Hazards and Disaster Researchers Fellowship Program for the 2019 - 2021 round. She was an Early-Career research fellow of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Gulf Research Program from 2017-2019. ​ While pursuing a Ph.D. at Louisiana State University, Dr. Shao was a research assistant for the multidisciplinary Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP), a Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) team funded by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). After receiving her Ph.D, she worked as a Coastal Resources Scientist in the Plan Development Unit at Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) in Louisiana. Her primary research interests are focused on human-environment interactions at various geographic scales and their policy implications. Specific interests include the human dimension of climate change, environmental risk perceptions, community resilience to environmental hazards, environmental policies and planning, social response to hydrological hazards, and environmental hazards and public health. Dr. Shao applies many quantitative methods in her research, including geospatial analysis and statistical analysis. The interdisciplinary nature of her research leads her to work across traditional disciplinary lines. She has worked with scientists in a wide range of fields, including climatology, civil and environmental engineering, political science, sociology, public policy, communication, statistics, and economics. Dr. Shao's major publications have appeared in numerous reputable international scholarly journals including Annals of the American Association of Geographers; Water Research; Science of the Total Environment; Environmental Research Letters; Climatic Change; Climate Policy; Journal of Hydrology; Geographic Review; Weather, Climate, and Society; Disasters; Journal of Risk Research; Risk Analysis; International Journal of Climatology; Social Science Quarterly; International Journal of Environmental Health Research; Scientific Reports; Social Science & Medicine; Environmental Politics. For science communication efforts, she has published several policy analysis articles for mass media outlets such as The Conversation, Vox, and The Washington Post. She is an associate editor in the subject area of Geography and Demography for Humanities and Social Sciences Communications (a Nature journal).

Selected Publications

Shao, W., Moftakhari, H., and Moradkhani, H. (2020). Comparing public perceptions of sea level rise with scientific projections across five states of the U.S. Gulf Coast region. Climatic Change DOI: 10.1007/s10584-020-02893-1

Shao, W. and Kam, J. (2020). Retrospective and prospective evaluations of drought and flood. Science of the Total Environment 748, 141155. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141155

Shao, W. and Hao, F. (2020 b). Confidence in political leaders can slant risk perceptions of COVID-19 in a highly polarized environment. Social Science & Medicine 261,113235. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.113235.

Shao, W. and Hao, F. (2020 a). Approval of political leaders can slant evaluation of political issues: evidence from public concern for climate change in the U.S. Climatic Change 158(2), 201-212,10.1007/s10584-019-02594-4

Shao, W., Keim, B., Xian, S., and *O’Connor, R. (2019). Flood hazards and perceptions – a comparative study of two cities in Alabama” Journal of Hydrology 569, 546-555.