Sara Lamb

Ph.D. Candidate, Graduate Assistant

121 Burruss Hall (MC0190)
800 Drillfield Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061



  • Urban Ecosystem Services
  • Habitat Fragmentation
  • Landscape and Structural Relationships
  • Green Technologies
  • Regenerative Systems
  • Urban Stream Restoration

For the 2021-22 academic year, I am a full time graduate assistant working on my dissertation and teaching.

My research focuses on managed retreat and ecosystem services in the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River Watershed, an impaired and highly developed drainage basin that includes parts of Chesapeake, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach Cities in Virginia’s coastal Hampton Roads Planning District. Managed retreat is the intentional relocation of people and assets away from hazards. Ecosystem services are the benefits or disservices provided by the ecosystems within which we live and interact. My research seeks to understand what alternative future scenarios for the watershed are possible and how we might design neighborhoods to meet desired ecosystem benefits based on different configurations of lot use, species selection, and urban forest geometry. This research supports a growing body of knowledge about how different configurations of development and blue-green infrastructure will impact coastal flood resilience, environmental justice, and security for residents of coastal communities.

This fall, I am instructor of record for LAR 3154 Watershed Sensitive Site Design, where we are working on 3 projects over the course of the semester:
From Design Development to Construction Documents: students site stormwater best management practices (BMP) into a site plan and create construction documents for one BMP used in the plan.
Runoff Reduction Concept Plan and Feasibility Analysis: students collaborate between this course and plans developed for their LAR 3015 studio where they will create a plan that incorporates BMPs after completing watershed analysis of the selected site. This year’s project is located in Christiansburg and is contained within the Crab Creek Watershed where students will propose an interpretive stormwater education facility, parking, and BMPs adjacent to Crab Creek.
Designing for D.C. Stormwater: students will develop 5 stormwater management modules (video + call to action) for urban D.C. highschool students as their audience. This project is a collaboration with Urban Studio in D.C. and other partners, including the DOEE (Department of Energy and Environment), the Anacostia Watershed Society, and the Spring 2021 University of Maryland LARC 240 cohort.

We also have a series of special guests to come talk to the students about their expertise in the policy and practice of stormwater management in design and community engagement, including Scott Crafton, RLA, Maintenance Division MS4 Program Manager, Virginia Department of Transportation; Nicole Hersch, MLA, Regional Planner II/Community Designer, New River Valley Regional Commission; and senior staff from the Urban Studio, including Maisie Hughes, Co-Founder & Treasurer, Kendra Hyson, Co-Founder & President, and Jaline McPherson, Project Coordinator.

Outside of teaching and research, I am an active Fellow in the Graduate Academy of Teaching Excellence (GrATE), a peer-mentoring program where graduate students collaborate to produce workshops, hold events, and share experiences with the graduate community. I am also a Graduate Fellow in the Leadership and Social Change Residential College, under Faculty Principal Dr. C.L. Bohannon and am a Senior Fellow in the Honors Residential College, under Faculty Principal Dr. Natalie Cook.

My website is, where I have links to my bio, CV, philosophy statements, publications, my portfolio, sample syllabi I have written for courses I might like to teach one day, and my blog.


Ph.D., Current. Architecture and Design Research, Virginia Tech.

MLA, 2015. Landscape Architecture, Mississippi State University.

BA, 2009. Fine Arts (Sculpture Emphasis), Mississippi State University.