“I Fight Harder for This Place Because It Is So Unique”

April 06, 2022

Meet LSU professor Traci Birch

Traci Birch, assistant professor of architecture and managing director of the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio, works on large, interdisciplinary projects to help Louisiana communities protect themselves from flooding and environmental disasters. She often has reason to bring up the famous Tennessee Williams quote about the special nature of some places, and how “everywhere else is Cleveland.” Mostly because she’s from Cleveland, and acutely aware of the unique coastal and environmental challenges in Louisiana, on the fragile frontier of climate-induced change. The kind of land-loss, flooding, and sea level rise the state is experiencing today are what other coastal areas around the globe are expected to see in coming decades.

“I fight harder for this place because it is so unique,” Birch said. “In Louisiana, you’ll never forget where you are. But the challenges we face can seem overwhelming. That’s why our mission always has been to bring different disciplines together—ecologists and engineers, but also landscape architects and urban planners—to work with local communities and translate the science into what it means for people on the ground.”

Traci Birch

Traci Birch works with citizens, elected officials, and industry to help Louisiana “think big” and understand the kind of complexities that come with building, living, and working in a flood-prone place.


“We had this crazy idea of building either a giant reservoir or several smaller reservoirs to help solve some of our flooding problems, and it really started to take shape at LSU. It takes an enormous amount of education and science to even start having conversations about a project this size, and that’s what LSU helped us with.”

Tangipahoa Parish President Robby Miller, who collaborated with LSU and Traci Birch to prevent flooding from the north to the south of the parish