November 16-20 is Geography Awareness Week, an international celebration of Geography as a field of research and learning.
Geography is an interdisciplinary discipline that brings together many forms of knowledge. Geographers seek to understand how space shapes, and is shaped by, social relations, and they study the physical processes and human impacts that create our natural environment.
At EUC, Geography spans the physical sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and our faculty research and teach on topics that range from urban culture, to economic inequality, to arctic hydrology.
In recognition of Geography Awareness Week, we are highlighting our geographers at EUC and profiling their contributions to the field. While this is not an exhaustive list of geographers at York, it includes all those at EUC who are trained as geographers or are appointed to the graduate program in Geography.
Bain is a feminist urban social geographer who studies contemporary urban and suburban culture. Her research examines the complex relationships of cultural workers and LGBTQ2S (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, and Two-Spirit) populations to cities and suburbs in Canada and Germany with particular attention to questions of identity formation, place-making, spatial politics, and neighbourhood change. Her writing focuses on the (sub)urban geographies of artistic labour and precarity, creative practice, and cultural production within cities and across city-regions. Her current research addresses key knowledge gaps regarding the lives, service needs, and place-making practices of suburban Canadian LGBTQ2S populations. She co-edited a book on Urbanization in a Global Context (2017) with Linda Peake for which a 2nd edition will be available in 2022. In May 2018, Bain held the power, potentialities, and paradoxes of controversy in feminist geography pedagogical praxis workshop, bringing feminist geographers from Canada and the United States together to discuss the role of controversy around feminist geography in classrooms, and to represent the perspectives of Indigenous, racialized, and queer feminist geography instructors.
Basu’s research and teaching interests relate to the geographies of marginality, diversity and social justice in cities; power, space and activism; critical geographies of education; and spatial methodologies including critical GIS. Her projects have explored the impacts of neoliberalization of educational restructuring in Ontario; 'multiculturalism' in schools; urbanization, social sustainability, public space/place-making among migrant communities; sub/urban/altern cosmopolitanism and cities of integrative multiplicity in Toronto. Her current project on “Subalterity, public education, and welfare cities” compares the experience of displaced migrants in Toronto, Havana, and Kolkata and explores the transformational dynamics of urban/geopolitical/educational spaces in Canada, Cuba and India. An article was published in 2019 that explored geopolitical framings of subalterity in education and its contradictory relation with the neoliberalized welfare state.
Bello is a climatologist specializing in the measurement of greenhouse gas exchange and the potential for climate change in the Hudson Bay Lowlands and Toronto's urban environment. His northern field research program focuses on the water balance and greenhouse gas exchange from the peatlands and ponds in the Hudson Bay Lowlands based out of the Churchill Northern Studies Centre in Churchill, Manitoba. His particular interest lies on how climate change is altering sea-ice on Hudson Bay and modifying the permafrost and vegetation in the Hudson Bay Lowlands. He recently developed a new research program examining the hydrology and carbon dynamics of Eastern White Cedar forests of the Bruce Peninsula. Bello is also part of York’s Ontario Climate Data Portal, a user-friendly portal of Ontario-specific climate projections.
Birch’s research interests lie in understanding technoscientific capitalism and draws on a range of perspectives from science and technology studies, economic geography, and economic sociology. More specifically, his research and writing focus on the restructuring and transformation of the economy and financial knowledges, technoscientific innovation, and the relationship between markets and natural environments. Currently, he is researching how different things (e.g. knowledge, personality, loyalty, etc.) are turned into assets and how economic rents are then captured from those assets. He recently co-edited a book on Assetization: Turning Things into Assets in Technoscientific Capitalism (2020). Birch is Director of the Science and Technology Studies (STS) Graduate Program and Co-Editor of the Science & Technology Studies (STS) journal "Science as Culture".
Bunch is a human geographer by training whose research interests lie in the transdisciplinary application of ecosystem approaches and complexity science to environmental problems. He has a methodological expertise in geographic information systems, adaptive management, soft systems methodology and ecosystem approaches to environmental management. In a project with the Global Footprint Network on “Developing the Ecological Footprint Research Initiative at York University”, he is working to enhance the accounting methodology and improve data on which the concept of the ecological footprint is based. The goal is for York to become the global data center for the National Footprint Accounts and to lead an international research collaboration to calculate how well countries are managing their natural resources and meeting their United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Das works on radical political economy, international development, state-society relations, and social struggles. His recent book Critical Reflections on Economy and Politics in India: A Class Theory Perspective (2020) presents a class-based perspective on the economic and political situation in contemporary India in a globalizing world. His current research on “Neoliberal industrialization, the rural periphery, and uneven development in India” studies the impact of new patterns of industrialization under neoliberalism in India’s rural areas. The project is a response to the fact that much of the theoretical work on uneven development, and contemporary research on industrial development in the South, does not provide the kind of analytical treatment of the rural-urban dimension of development that it deserves.
Drezner is a physical geographer with a specialty in plants, plant-climate interactions, and facilitation. Her primary expertise is in desert ecosystems and her current project focuses on endangered species of cactus at Point Pelee National Park (Ontario) to assist its management, understand its ecological limits, and aid the Park’s conservation efforts. She also has an active research program in the Desert Southwest (Arizona, USA) looking at cactus demographics, facilitation, and responses to climate. Her recent article on “The importance of microenvironment: Opuntia plant growth, form and the response to sunlight” highlights the need for plants to secure adequate photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) for functioning, growth and reproduction.
Etcheverry is Co-Chair of the Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI) and Director of the International Renewable Energy Academy (IREA). His research is focused on developing practical policy solutions to climate change through collaborative efforts with various partners and stakeholders. He is working towards achieving a carbon-free university that can provide a world-class location for learning-by-doing on how to solve the climate change emergency declared by the Canadian Federal Government. He is part of a group that is working on developing the International Renewable Energy Agency's Learning Partnership (IRELP) aimed at creating a network of educational resources on renewable energy. The network is expected to contribute to the success of Natural Resources Canada’s RETScreen International Training Institute towards analyzing the potential for sustainable energy at York University.
Gilbert’s research interests revolve around three poles: i) migration and border politics; ii) urban planning and the political economy and ecology of sub/urbanization; and iii) politics of risk and post-disaster reconstruction. She is particularly interested in how the logic of exclusion reproduces itself through control, precarity, risk, and crisis discourses. At the core of these regimes and discourses are issues of the incapacitation of everyday life, citizenship, and ‘right to the city.’ Her research and teaching are motivated by the need for change towards environmental and social justice. In 2019, she translated Bruce Campbell’s book on The Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster: Public Betrayal, Justice Denied (2018) which is now available in French under the title Enquête sur la catastrophe the Lac-Mégantic: Quand les pouvoirs publics déraillent (Fides, 2019).
Greer-Wootten is professor emeritus and has taught and carried out research in both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, with particular interests in all aspects of survey research, especially with respect to policy analysis in environmental and social policy areas. Current research projects include work on sustainability indicators, building on earlier ISR projects on perceived Quality of Life, and how to incorporate such data into the policy formulation process, and theoretical studies of the relations between nature and society in environmental discourse. He was a co-applicant with Martin Bunch in a FEED project that analyzed community resilience in South Sudan. In 2018, he was recognized for his work with the Institute of Geonics by the Czech Academy of Sciences and was presented with the prestigious Karel Engliš Honorary Medal for Merit in the Social and Economic Sciences.
Hoicka’s research and teaching focus on developing a better understanding of how communities adopt low carbon technologies and energy transitions. She takes an interdisciplinary approach to research by combining knowledge of human geography, ecological economics, and engineering in collaboration with political scientists, geographers, engineers, and ecological economists. Her community-based research work is international in scope, but grounded likewise in understanding practices used in Canada. She mentors students through her Social Exergy & Energy Lab based at the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies which focuses on studying the future of carbon energy and identifying strategies towards mitigating the effects of climate change.
Hovorka’s research broadly explores human-environment relationships and is theoretically informed by feminist, poststructuralist and post-humanist philosophical perspectives. Her fields of specialization include animal geographies, gender and environment, urban geography, Southern Africa, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. She is working with a team of graduate students as part of the Lives of Animals Research Group on species-based project case studies that highlight the circumstances and experiences of animals, as well as the broader structures and dynamics that shape their daily lives. The research is interdisciplinary, bridging social sciences (e.g. geography, environmental studies, social theory) with natural sciences (e.g. animal welfare science, behavioural ecology, biology) to ensure holistic research results meaningful for both human and non-human animals.
Hyndman’s research traverses political, economic, urban, cultural and feminist dimensions of migration, focusing on people's mobility, displacement, and security. She is particularly concerned with the dynamics of conflict and disaster that create refugee-migrants, as well as international humanitarian responses to such crises. Her books examine the embodied geopolitics of containment that characterizes human displacement across world regions, looking at the highly spatialized power relations of managing human displacement in “Dual Disasters”, and the intersection of conflict with the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka and Aceh, Indonesia in the ways in which violence is gendered, racialized, and sexualized in war zones in “Sites of Violence; Gender and Conflict Zones”. Her recent project “Exploring Private Refugee Sponsorship” examines what makes private refugee sponsorship in Canada sustainable and the social, cultural, and economic and political relations that support sponsors and communities over many years.
Keil’s research focuses on urban political ecology, cities and infectious disease, and global suburbanization. Governance and politics remain the link between these areas. As the founding director of York University’s City Institute (CITY) (2006-13), he led a large international project on “Global Suburbanisms: Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st Century” (2010-19). A book series with the title Global Suburbanisms and a short monograph on our Suburban Planet capture this work. Subsequently, from 2015-19, he held a York Research Chair in Global Sub/Urban Studies. The relationship of urbanization and infectious disease has been a continuing research interest from SARS in 2003 to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. He is co-investigator with Harris Ali (LA&PS) and other scholars in an IDRC sponsored research project on community responses to Ebola in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kelly’s research revolves around questions of migration and labour within broader contexts of uneven economic geographies and class-based inequalities. He has a longstanding commitment to research in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and with the Filipino community in Canada. His recent research has included projects focused on: inter-generational class mobility among immigrant youth in Canada; Filipino immigrant integration into Canadian labour markets; and, the formation of transnational political and economic solidarities between Canada and the Philippines. He is the co-author of a widely used textbook on Economic Geography and co-editor of a recent collection on labour and capital mobility in Asia. He is currently starting a collaboration with Peter Vandergeest to examine migrant labour in Asian fisheries.
Kipfer’s empirical research has focused on urban politics, urbanization, and planning in transnational and comparative context. In various parts of Euro-America, including the global cities Zurich, Toronto, and Paris, he has researched a range of urban social movements and their geographical imaginaries. He has investigated various forms of state intervention from urban-regional planning, public housing, and public transit to economic and environmental policy. Most recently, he has moved to research the rise of right-wing populism and neo-fascism as well as emancipatory responses to far-right tendencies and regimes. In his research and teaching, he has foregrounded the capitalist and racialized dimensions of urbanization, planning, and politics. From mid-March to late May, he posted a series of short articles and photo essays on the COVID-19 pandemic and annotated his reflections in The Naked City: Traversing Toronto in Pandemic Times.
Ko is an adjunct graduate faculty with more than 17 years of research experience with GIS and remote sensing techniques (machine learning, computer vision, advanced data computation, and 3D web mapping of geo-spatial data). Her research interests include 3D Vegetation Mapping (Forest and Urban Environment) Sensing: Space LiDAR, Airborne LiDAR, Terrestrial LiDAR, Mobile LiDAR, Multi-Spectral LiDAR, crowd sourcing, spectral images, slam, and the combined use of sensors. Processing: deep neural network, machine learning, physical remote sensing, computer vision, 3D recognition and classification of objects. Visualization: 3D modelling, 3D web mapping, and visualization. She has advanced working knowledge and familiarity with GIS-related software (ESRI ArcGIS desktop, ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro, QGIS, MapInfo, OpenStreetMap, Google Maps, assist in developing GIS curriculum), strong technical aptitudes and experience with remote sensing software (PCI Geomatica, LAStools, CloudCompare, Reigl), and is proficient in R, MATLAB, Python, Java Script, and API programming.
Korosi is an environmental scientist and limnologist who studies nature and underlying mechanisms of environmental change. Using lake sediment cores, her research examines past environmental conditions and trajectories of ecosystem change. In her NSERC Discovery project, Korosi studies permafrost as a dominant feature of the Canadian landscape. Along with her research team, she is conducting a range of research studies on the role of climate warming and permafrost thaw as drivers of terrestrial and lake ecosystem change in high-latitude regions. They are also looking into the role of climate change in influencing the cycling and ecotoxicity of industrial contaminants. As well, they are examining regime shifts and ecosystem resilience in southern Ontario lakes impacted by multiple stressors like urbanization and land use activities, with a focus on the Kawartha Lakes watershed.
Lehrer’s research interests revolve around global suburbanism; cities and globalization; image production in cities; economic restructuring and urban form; political economy of the built environment; theory and history of planning, urban design and architecture; and built environment, ethnicity and immigration to urban areas. She has been involved in comparative urban research on Zurich, Frankfurt, Berlin, Los Angeles and Toronto, investigating new urban forms and other megaprojects. She recently co-published an article on “Verticality, Public Space and the Role of Resident Participation in Revitalizing Suburban High-rise Buildings” (2019) and her latest co-edited book looks at the Suburban Land Question (2018).
Lo is a professor emeritus whose work on Chinese diaspora focuses primarily on changing settlement patterns, business structures, consumer behaviour, and labour market performance. Her work on immigrant settlement and integration includes the provision, access, and use of settlement service, labour market performance, immigrant entrepreneurship and ethnic economy, and the role of ethnic banks on immigrant integration. Her current project examines highly skilled migration between China, Canada and the United States. This internationally-based, comparative project on intellectual migration aims to understand the dynamics underlying global knowledge and human capital flows, and the significant role of Canada as a nexus in these flows.
Mensah is a first-generation African-Canadian intellectual, born and raised in post-colonial Ghana. He immigrated to Canada in 1987 and completed his PhD in geography at the University of Alberta. His research interests are on critical development theory; socio-spatial dialectics; globalization; religious transnationalism; cultural identity; race, space and employment; and research methods. His current project “To stay or not to stay: The geographies of immigrant integration, transnationalism, and return intentions among African immigrants in Canada” seeks to deepen knowledge on how varying conditions at the country of origin and place of residence affect the return intentions of immigrants. His latest co-authored book on Boomerang Ethics: How Racism Affects Us All (2017) looks at the hidden impacts of racism on all members of society.
Molot is an applied scientist whose research interests focus on ecological processes and pollution in lakes. Over the years he has studied acidification, nutrient dynamics, photochemical processing of organic carbon, the impacts of climate change on thermal stratification and oxygen depletion and has developed several management tools (models) to assist environmental managers. His ongoing research on the development and maintenance of harmful cyanobacterial blooms in freshwaters studies (1) how the development of anoxic (oxygen-free) sediments triggers growth of cyanobacteria and displacement of more benign algal species, (2) the role of trace metals in initiating and sustaining cyanobacteria blooms, and (3) how sediment anoxia is affected by climate change. His latest co-authored article on Boreal Shield lakes examine the iron-sulfur microbiology of these systems to further understand earth’s microbial communities.
Norcliffe is a professor emeritus with research interests in industrial location and regional labour markets. During the last decade his research interests have broadened to include artistic representation of landscape, particularly the painting of modern industry. His latest book on Critical Geographies of Cycling: History, Political Economy and Culture (2015) looks at the geographical construction of technology examining the technological development, innovation, and the location of production, trade and consumption of cycles. His current research, funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant, explores the global player production networks whereby Canadian hockey players and institutions are building hockey skills in China. He has published 12 books and over 120 professional articles and chapters during his career. Details can be found on his website.
Peake is a feminist geographer with research interests on gendered, raced and classed urban issues, particularly as they pertain to marginalized communities in the urban global south, and specifically Guyana. Her interests in knowledge production also extend to issues of engaging with people experiencing mental and emotional distress. Her current SSHRC partnership project on Urbanization, gender, and the global south: a transformative knowledge network (GenUrb) investigates the gendered implications of urbanization to advance an understanding of how the relationship between poverty and inequality in the seven cities is reconstituting gender relations and gendered rights to the city. She is the recipient of the 2020 Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG) Award for Scholarly Distinction in recognition of her theoretical work on the intersection of race and gender.
Podur’s scientific research background has been focused on forest fires in Ontario – their spatial and temporal patterns, increases in their numbers and area burned, balancing their role as part of the landscape with the fact that they can threaten people and things of value. He uses mathematical and computer models to study fire and other ecological problems. He teaches landscape ecology and geographic information systems. In parallel, he has developed a research program on political conflicts, focused on a few specific parts of the world where he has traveled and worked as a journalist and translator. His latest book on America's Wars on Democracy in Rwanda and the DR Congo examines US interventions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda and discusses the concepts of African development, democracy, genocide, foreign policy, and international politics.
Preston’s research interests revolve around immigration, gender issues, urban labour and housing markets. She is the principal investigator of a SSHRC Partnership grant on ‘Migration and Resilience in Urban Canada’, which draws on over 20 years of experience in bringing together a range of key actors working on issues of immigration and settlement. This unique initiative explores the concept of social resilience to examine how institutions can facilitate migrant settlement in urban areas across Quebec and Ontario. The project is generating new knowledge for academic debate and discussion that will be made readily available to decision-makers and practitioners who strive to enhance migrant settlement. The project provides an in-depth understanding of the strategies that migrants use to overcome settlement challenges in municipalities across Canada.
Remmel’s core research incorporates aspects of spatial pattern, accuracy and uncertainty, and boreal disturbance analyses. He integrates remote sensing, GIS, and spatial analyses to better understand the physical environment. Underpinning his passion for physical geography is GIScience and understanding spatial patterns. He teaches courses related to geomatics, specifically remote sensing, GIS, and statistics. Currently, Remmel is working with the Ontario Forest Research Institute in a project on Developing a comprehensive spatial database of fire, harvesting, and road disturbances in the boreal forests in Ontario. He is also collaborating with Alison Bain's SSHRC Insight Grant on Queering Canadian Suburbs, LGBTQ2S place-making outside of central cities.
Rotz’s academic and organizing work is grounded in environmental justice, with a focus on land and food systems. Much of her research aims to situate political economic processes – such as agri-food industrialization, financialization, and policy – within a lens of settler colonial patriarchy and racial capitalism. She also explores the consequences of these processes for sovereignty, justice and resistance movements more broadly. Her work has focused on topics ranging from the political economy and ecology of farmland tenure and critical perspectives on big data in agriculture, to the ways that settler colonial logics and gendered narratives uphold extractive practices and relationships on the land. Her recent co-authored book titled Uncertain Harvest: The Future of Food on a Warming Planet (2020) explores the global future of food, that is, how to make a more equitable, safe, sustainable, and plentiful food future and presents a roadmap for a global food policy.
Sandberg’s areas of academic interests include gentrification of conservation, pedagogies of local place and space, political economies and ecologies of natural resources, climate and environmental justice, forest, environmental and conservation history. During the last few years, he has co-edited several books, including Methodological Challenges in Nature-Culture and Environmental History Research (2017) and Post-Industrial-Urban-Greenspace-An-Environmental-Justice-Perspective (2016) with Jennifer Foster. For some time, he has conducted an Alternative Campus Tour at York University that critically analyses the day-to-day operations of the university through talking and walking tours of the campus. The tour is part of the annual “Jane’s Walks,” a university-community outreach initiative. In 2019, in collaboration with Indigenous faculty members and students, the tour explored the Indigenous aspects of the University’s Keele campus.
Taylor is a planner and geographer with research in political ecology and landscape studies. Most of her research is on exurbia, and the environmental and planning impacts of the landscape of large-lot country residential homes at the urban-rural fringe outside of cities. She is particularly interested in growth management approaches to limit sprawl and conserve nature, such as Toronto’s Greater Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt. She is also interested in climate change as the most pressing issue facing cities. Reducing emissions and adapting landscapes to extreme weather has become the focus of her work. She is a member of the Ontario Greenbelt Council, the Ontario Professional Planners Institute, the Lambda Alpha International, and the Urban Land Institute’s Women’s Leadership Team. Her most current research is on sustainable livelihoods in protected areas in North America.
Thienpont’s interests focus on teaching and research around landscape disturbances and how they impact ecosystem processes. He is particularly interested in the connection between physical disturbances and ecosystem changes, including the biogeography of organisms. His current research examines how marine storm surges in the Mackenzie Delta of the western Canadian Arctic result in widespread salinization, fundamentally altering terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. He uses lake sediment records to reconstruct past environments where direct monitoring data are sparse or absent to understand past ecosystem changes. He is currently the secretary-treasurer of the Society of Canadian Limnologists which represents the aquatic sciences community in Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.
Tufts is a labour geographer who focuses on the geographies of work, workers, and organized labour. His current research studies the use of strategic research as part of labour union renewal, the role of unions in urban economic development, labour market adjustment in tourism related sectors in response to crises and climate change, and the impact of growing populism on organized labour. His writings aim to better understand how workers through collective action can shape economic landscapes in ways that are more socially just and environmentally sustainable. His current projects involve the use of strategic research by labour unions and labour union renewal in Canada, the integration of immigrants in urban labour markets, labour market adjustment in the hospitality sector, the impact of climate change on workers and workplaces, and the intersection between labour and right-wing populism.
Vandergeest’s research is based in a political ecology approach that starts with the direct resource user -- farmers, fishers, gatherers, and labourers -- and locates what they do in multi-scale transformations in how these resources are re-made and governed. His current research builds on his recent work on the political ecology of labour relations, migration, and mobilities in Southeast and East Asia. In this project, he uses an approach to the study of labour relations and working conditions that starts with workers and their aspirations and experiences, and also builds relationships with worker support groups across the region. His current project Work at Sea: Explaining Labour Relations in the Global Fishing Industry examines poor and unacceptable working conditions among migrant workers in industrial fisheries with a focus on fleets operated out of Taiwan and Thailand.
Wood studies citizenship, activism, and governance, particularly the experiences of marginalized groups whose way of life brings them into conflict with their neighbouring communities or the state. She also conducts comparative research on municipal and urban regional governance. In a recent co-authored book on Borders, Mobility and Belonging in the Era of Brexit and Trump (2018), the authors provide new insights into the politics of migration and citizenship in the UK and the US and challenge the increasingly prevalent view of migration and migrants as threats and of formal citizenship as a necessary marker of belonging. The book uses cutting-edge academic work on migration and citizenship to address three themes central to current debates – borders and walls, mobility and travel, and belonging.
Young’s research and teaching interests cover various aspects of northern hydrology, microclimate and her experience of working in northern environments. She is an expert on the Canadian High Arctic particularly in the fields of wetland hydrology and snow hydrology. More recently, she has been exploring the impact of dust and volcanic ash on the hydrology of slopes and wetlands in Iceland. She is a strong believer of hands-on experiential learning for students and have in fact taken students to Hawaii to study beach erosion, and the micro-climate of volcanoes and rain forests. In 2017, together with teachers from Riverdale Collegiate, she led both senior geography students and high school students to Iceland to explore its unique climate, culture and geology – volcanoes and glaciers.
Zalik’s research focuses on the political economy and political ecology of oil, gas and other extractives, centering on their spatial and social relations with historical and contemporary colonialism. A central stream of her work concerns the merging of industrial security and community ‘development’ interventions expressed in contemporary private aid programs and corporate social practice. Recently she has examined transparency discourse in the extractive sector as a manifestation of this trend. Another area of research concerns the relationship between popular resistance to extraction, risk analysis as carried out by global financial institutions, and the spatial reorganization of energy and extractive infrastructure. She has carried out field research in Nigeria, Mexico, Canada and more recently at the International Seabed Authority.