I was born in Los Angeles and raised in southern California. After earning my BA in Urban Studies and Planning (UC San Diego) and PhD in Urban and Regional Planning (UNC Chapel Hill), I joined the department's faculty in 1999. During the last decade I've taken on more leadership roles and the associated administrative appointments; Director of the Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research (2012-17) and Department Chair (2017-present). Outside of my academic pursuits I enjoy all manner of outdoor recreational activities -- especially ocean sports, running, and biking. Having surfed for over 30 years, it was natural to translate my deep experience in the sport and culture into a lower division course -- the Geography of Surfing; which I've taught annually since 2001.
Since graduate school I have been interested in problems associated with poverty and interregional differences in development trajectories. These interests are manifest in, and interact with, aspects of demography (fertility, family formation, migration), health (morbidity), livelihood (especially agriculturists), and gender. I am also deeply interested in the way in which scientists build and interpret empirically-grounded models of the processes they study, and the sources and providence of the data they use. My research typically uses advanced statistical methods, and I have particular interest in models for discrete events (points in space, births in time, etc.) and those that explicitly incorporate aspects of geography. Because of my interests and expertise in statistics, my published research ranges widely over a variety of topics. In terms or research that I have lead, or worked on closely with my own students, the topics focus on development, population, and health. Within the department I align with the Population and Health [PH[SS1] ] domain and the Geoanalytics/Urban and Regional Science [GURS[SS2] ] domain. I help to lead, and regularly attend, the department's Population Health in Geography [PHIG] seminar/working group. My recent funded research has focused on agricultural development. NSF-funded research under the Human Social Dynamics cross-directorate program focused on policy and climate drivers of maize production and maize livelihoods in Mexico. I am currently funded by USAID through the Peanut Innovation Lab to study gendered aspects of Senegalese peanut farming using a new approach to time use monitoring that I am developing with my current and recently graduated students. The settings for my recent research includes areas in Africa (Rwanda, Senegal), US (NYC), Mexico, Spain, and Central America.