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 Interests

Melinda Harm Benson, J.D., Associate Professor

Melinda Benson’s research focuses generally on current and emerging environmental governance approaches. This includes the role of existing legal and institutional frameworks addressing biodiversity loss, climate change adaptation, and other environmental challenges. It also includes work in the field of legal geography. This involves exploring 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. Finally, she is increasingly interested in new materialism and related scholarship that investigates the unfolding complexity of ongoing ecological, socio-cultural and politico-economic changes using a variety of techniques that engage in a reexamination of Newtonian-based thinking, including the currently dominant, mechanistic view of matter.



Ronda Brulotte, Ph.D. Associate Professor

Dr. Brulotte holds a M.A. in Latin American Studies and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. She has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Oaxaca, Mexico since 1998, and is trained in the cultural geography and anthropology of Latin America more broadly. Her research focuses on food systems, tourism geography, critical heritage studies, commodities and materialism, and transnational indigeneity. She is the author of Between Art and Artifact: Archaeological Replicas and Cultural Production in Oaxaca, Mexico (University of Texas Press 2012) and is the co-editor of Edible Identities: Food as Cultural Heritage (Routledge 2014) with Michael A. Di Giovine. She is currently working on a book manuscript addressing the transformation of the Oaxacan mezcal industry within the context of emergent global markets.

Dr. John Carr, Ph.D., J.D., Associate Professor

John Carr is a broad-based scholar whose research and pedagogy interrogate the intersections of law, politics, planning, culture, and technology, with a particular focus on cities.   He received his PhD in Geography at the University of Washington (2007), and his Juris Doctor at the University of Texas School of Law (1993). While much of his research is rooted in a curiosity about human built environments, this curiosity has served as a springboard into a broader range of scholarship that integrates geography and planning, legal studies and environmental studies, the urban and the wild, academia and community based change, and qualitative and quantitative methodologies. His research on geolocational data privacy and ethics has been supported by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Social and Economic Sciences. His prior careers include ten years practice as a civil rights attorney, and work as an activist for youth recreational space in Seattle, Washington, including serving on a mayorally appointed Blue Ribbon commission supervising the creation of a city-wide master plan for youth oriented recreational facilities.


Dr. Chris Duvall, Ph.D. Associate Professor

I study interactions between people and plants, from several epistemological perspectives.  In terms of ecological biogeography, I am interested in understanding how human activities interact with other biophysical processes to produce variation in vegetation conditions and plant distributions.  My work in Mali illustrates this aspect of my interests.  I also approach people–plant interactions from the perspective of post-colonial science studies.  In these terms, I study how culturally subjective philosophies of knowledge have shaped scholarly understanding of biophysical reality; I particularly look at the continuing effects of colonial botanical science in Africa.  Finally, I look at people–plant interactions from the perspective of historical geography, focusing on how cultural and environmental change has shaped the relationships between humans and various plants.  This is currently my most active area of research.  I am studying the plant cannabis, particularly in Africa and the Atlantic Diaspora, and in relation to the development of exploitative labor regimes.



Dr. Xi Gong, Ph.D. Visiting Professor

Dr. Gong’s research focuses on Geographic Information Science (GIScience). His research interests include geospatial modeling, environment-health associations, spatio-temporal data mining from big data, Geocomputation, and spatial statistics. His research is focused on modeling human exposure to environmental risk factors (air pollution, water contamination, nuclear radiations, etc.), and data mining of environment-health associations based on large volumes of GIS data.


Dr. Caitlin L. Lippitt, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, 

Dr. Cait Lippitt holds an M.S. in Geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Ph.D. from the Joint Doctoral Program in Geography at San Diego State University and University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Lippitt specializes in remote sensing of landscape and land use change. Her research is focused on outlining methods for the integration of traditional biological sampling and mapping techniques with remote sensing for monitoring and managing landscape change related to disturbances (drought, wildfire, and invasive species). Dr. Lippitt’s current research is focused on leveraging remotely sensed data to quantify vegetation cover at the landscape scale in in arid and semi-arid environments (New Mexico, California) and assessing the reliability and scalability of field sampled fractional cover estimates to fractional estimates derived from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and satellite remote sensing platforms.