Ongoing Research Projects:
1. Hydrocarbon Governance and New Geographies of Fracking
The broader goal of this research program is to understand interrelationships among political-economics, property rights, law, environmental ethics, and landscape change in unconventional oil and gas development. With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), I lead a collaborative research project to examine how drilling ordinances are established and shared among different cities in Texas (Link to NSF award announcement). Another focus of my work on shale gas examines the environmental justice of fracking in communities and how the economic benefits and burdens are distributed. These projects advance earlier studies that found that distance ordinances that regulate the proximity of gas wells to homes are not based on empirical thresholds but are political compromises, and that conflicts over water consumption by shale gas operators stem from lack of understanding of the urban water cycle and inadequate water conservation education.
2. Political Ecology of Concrete and Cement
Recent research analyzed the historic and contemporary use of narratives by the cement industry to promote cement consumption and how this prevents the industry from reducing carbon dioxide emissions. My Geoforumarticle on the topic won first prize from The British Sociology Association Climate Change Study Group 2013 Article Prize. As well, past research examined how large-scale demand for concrete blocks influenced rural land use and livelihood strategies, local geographies, and cultural landscapes in the Xalapa-Perote region of central Veracruz, Mexico. I continue to explore urban and regional landscape dynamics in central Veracruz.
3. Timberline Land Cover Dynamics
Since 2008, I have been a member of a National Geographic Society funded collaborative project with Alexandra Ponette-Gonzalez in Rio Abiseo National Park, Peru, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The research examines how past grazing and burning affect timberline ecotone vegetation and soil. As part of the project, I developed a low-cost protocol for building digital elevation models (DEM) that will be used to analyze spatial relationships between disturbances and forest patch ecosystems.