About Me


Associate Professor
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Geography & 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:
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
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 economic and community development, immigration and local political conflicts, restructuring of urban labor markets, the management of nonprofit organizations, and the transnational lives of migrants. 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.

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 (especially 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.

Since moving to North Carolina in 2008, I have become increasingly interested in the U.S. South and how migrants to this region are shaping the economics, politics, and quality of life here. My current research is on the transformation of Durham, North Carolina from a deindustrialized city to a “revitalized” city characterized by pretentious consumption.

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.