About Me


Associate Professor
Department of Geography & Environment
Curriculum in Global Studies
224 Carolina Hall, CB 3220
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA



PhD University of Illinois at Chicago (2008)
MSc London School of Economics (2000)
BA McGill University (1999)

Courses taught at UNC:
Graduate Seminar in Advanced Urban Geography (Geography 803)
Urban Geography (Geography 228)
Global Cities: Power, Politics, and Planning (Geography 428)
Urban Political Geography: Durham, NC (Geography 429)
Migration and Urbanization (Geography 430)
Global Issues in the 21st Century (Global Studies 210)

Summary of Research and Teaching
My goal is to connect the theoretical work of geography with the urban planning and policy tools that can make cities places of possibility for all people. My research areas include urban politics, economic and community development, immigration and local political conflicts, restructuring of urban labor markets, the management of nonprofit organizations, and the racialization of urban space. I use mixed methods to explore the processes and outcomes of emerging urban social issues. I aim to conduct engaged research that can speak to multiple audiences, including academics, policy makers, planners, and the research subjects themselves.

My current research is for a book project: Pretentious Urbanism: How Progressive Cities Recreate Inequities. I draw on literatures in critical and feminist geographies, development studies, and ethnic studies to build a theoretical framework for interpreting urban policy and planning.

I teach classes in urban geography and globalization, and aim to instill in my students an appreciation of the diversity and complexity that characterizes cities around the world.

My work has been published in academic journals, including Journal of Urban Affairs, Antipode, Environment and Planning A, Mobilities, Urban Geography, and American Behavioral Scientist.

I was born in Dublin and as a child my family migrated to Canada and I grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, an economically depressed region of Canada at the time. I left Halifax to pursue my education in Montreal, London, and Chicago, where I became fascinated with how migrants make a place for themselves in these sprawling metropolises. My life history, combined with my experiences in these cities, motivated me to study the impacts of migration on labor markets, community and civil society responses to urban political conflicts, the informal economy in U.S. cities, and the transnational lives of migrants. My recent work is inspired by living in Durham, NC. I spend a lot of time wondering why “progressive” cities have not done better in reducing economic inequities and racial injustice than their more conservative peers. How can racial segregation in the housing market still be so acute even 50 years after the civil rights movement?