Research projects and strands

Transportation and Mobility

The longest-standing area of my research involves the economic, political, and environmental contexts and consequences of transportation infrastructure: airport expansion and its effects on neighboring communities, freight and logistics as a new form of suburbanization, how railroads reveal suburban fears of the urban as expressed through the global, and the spatial relationship between airports and economic development.

Some recent publications:

Urban sustainability and local government

My work on urban environmental governance began with green buildings and their implications for the urban human-environment relationship and has expanded to consider urban sustainability more broadly. In my early work on green buildings and the geography of LEED certification, I explored how municipal regulations do, in fact, produce more green buildings. My book, Imagining Sustainability: Creative Urban Environmental Governance in Chicago and Melbourne, explores how sustainability work is done within local government as regimes change around the people doing that work. I also develop the concept of the sustainable imaginary to analyze how actors within local government and adjacent organizations understand and imagine how resources are being used and should be used to ensure socio-environmental reproduction.


It’s good to have side projects, either because of personal interest or for teaching purposes. My friend and collaborator Heike Alberts and I were speculating once on why European chocolate is so much better than American chocolate, and that has led to multiple papers/book chapters (along with more interest from strangers than any of my “serious” research):

Although I could include this second area under the mobilities heading, it’s less about infrastructure and more about personal experience. I took up running after I got tenure, and I’ve since run sixteen half-marathons, which got me thinking about the experience of road races (5Ks, half marathons, marathons, etc.) and why so many people travel great distances to do something they could do on their own block: