Geography & Environmental Studies

MSC 01 1110
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Physical Location:
Bandelier West & East

Phone: (505)277-5041
Fax: (505)277-3614

Faculty Research

Caitlin Lippitt

I am a biogeographer specializing in remote sensing. My primary research focus is investigating methods for the integration of traditional biological sampling and mapping techniques with remote sensing for monitoring and managing disturbances (drought, wildfire, invasive species) in semi-arid and arid environments.
My current research includes: (1) leveraging remotely sensed data to quantify vegetation cover and assess vegetation change at plot and landscape scales in the arid Southwest; and (2) evaluating the reliability and scalability of field sampled fractional cover estimates to fractional estimates derived from remotely sensing platforms; and (3) quantifying and assessing piñon pine mortality in piñon -juniper woodlands using very high spatial resolution imagery and object-based image analysis.
John Newman Carr
While my research has involved topics as diverse as urban planning, the workings of online microcredit philanthropy, and locational data privacy, my scholarship is united by a fundamental curiosity about the spaces for, and barriers to transforming society to be more fair and just.  This line of inquiry has led me to look at a variety of urban geographies, legal geographies, online geographies, and the intersections of the three.  In the process, I have endeavored to bridge the divide between critical theoretical perspectives, and more pragmatic, applied approaches in hopes of opening up directions for practice that are informed by critical insights.  For example, I have been pursuing a new, long-term, participant action research project with an innovative community development organization in Albuquerque’s traditionally agricultural and Hispanic South Valley neighbourhood that is rethinking ways to foster grass-roots business development by foregrounding community resources and needs. I have begun exploring the potential for reworking existing doctrines and tools of private law to enable and enhance their efforts to create sustainable, community driven and governed enterprises in peri-urban regions. This work has also served as a springboard to a broader multi-methodology, collaborative project with colleagues across the disciplines at UNM. Specifically, my colleagues and I are working on a multi-dimensional understanding of past, present, and potential future uses and approaches to one of the city’s most long-standing and essential economic, environmental, and cultural assets, namely its traditional communal irrigation systems – known as acequias. With the decline of traditional agriculture and the overuse of groundwater resources, many acequia systems are underused, poorly maintained, and zoned off from public use. Accordingly, we seek to trace ways historical shifts in landscape morphology, governance, cultural practice, and broader economic trends might point toward a way forward that maintains the function, significance, and value of these traditional community spaces as the communities and economic activities they serve continue to transition. 
Melinda Harm Benson

Benson’ research has two current trajectories.  One focuses on the next generation of environmental governance approaches and the extent to which existing legal and institutional frameworks facilitate and constrain their theoretical development and practical application.  The second takes place within the growing, transdisciplinary field of legal geography.  Legal geographers explore the mutually constitutive qualities of law and space and investigate the dynamic relationship to spatial forms and discourses and their corresponding productions of control, authority and power.  This includes an examination of how resource allocation regimes and environmental protections operationalize often overlapping and competing legal processes and privileges, creating deeply contested landscapes.