Sustainability, Resilience, and Justice - Synergies and Tradeoffs

In a rapidly urbanizing and warming world, we are confronted with the challenge of simultaneously planning for food-energy-water systems and cities that are more environmentally sustainable, more resilient to climate change, and more just for residents. These outcomes, from the scale of individuals to regions, are shaped by assemblages of resource-provisioning infrastructures, institutions, and ecosystems. However, environmental, economic, and social outcomes are difficult to assess in parallel, leaving us with key questions about their complementarity. Specifically, to what degree can transformation of urban built, social, and natural systems promote synergies in sustainability, resilience, and justice? To what degree are tradeoffs inevitable? And how can we better measure and predict these tradeoffs and synergies in order to design and plan for a better urban future?

My research and teaching address the challenge of planning and designing systems to be more sustainable, resilient and just. I am an interdisciplinary scholar of food-energy-water systems and cities, drawing on theory and methods from planning, geography, and engineering. To advance the study of these tradeoffs, I employ an urban metabolism lens, which focuses on stocks and flows of material and social goods. This lens allows us to distinguish sustainability, resilience, and justice outcomes from the built, natural, and social structures which shape these outcomes, pointing us towards design and planning interventions for some of our stickiest social-environmental crises. My dissertation has focused on urban agriculture (UA), examining its place in cities today and in the future. This research has been supported by the NSF-funded FEW-meter project, and I am Co-PI of a recently funded Sea Grant project focused on post-industrial investment and gentrification. 

Prior to my work at the University of Michigan, I earned a bachelor's degree in Environmental and Ecological Engineering and a master’s degree in Natural Resources Social Science from Purdue University. For more information on my research, teaching, and other professional interesting, see specific topic areas below. Please feel free to reach out with questions about this work or if you'd like to chat about current and future research direction. 

Areas of work

Urban Agriculture

Infrastructure Resilience

Agricultural Adaptation



Sustainability Education