Current Projects

I am a broadly trained geography and, as such, my research interests touch on many different aspects of urban geography and GIS mapping.  Below is a listing of the two main lines of research inquiry I am currently working on.

Sense of Place and Place Geographies

Along with my book about local life in Las Vegas, I have published manuscripts about the interaction between religion and place in Southern Nevada (see map and photo below), urban senses of community and the historic roots of Las Vegas becoming a 20th century tourist town.
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Moving forward, I am exploring other aspects of the Las Vegas local experience, including its role as a unique place as a voluntary region in United States cultural geography and how place-defining music plays a role in Las Vegas perceptions.  
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In addition, I have built on my work as Gaming Research Fellow at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Center for Gaming Research (2010-2011) to explore the influence of local/neighborhood casinos on urban landscape and sense of community in the Las Vegas area (see map below).  I am trying to map and understand the impact of urban and suburban casino expansion on American culture and identity. I am interested in promoting the idea of "place geographies."  These are studies by geographers and scholars in allied disciplines that seek to uncover the experiential feelings of identity, familiarity, and attachment among people within a locale that contribute to a recognizable place character and personality.

Collaborative Research in GIS

I have published a number of articles and book chapters that have resulted from synergistic collaborations in research applying geospatial technologies to help answer a variety of human and environmental geography questions. A project to map the spatial and human impacts of global sea level rise is a good example of this work.  With undergraduate students at Haskell Indian Nations University and colleagues at the University of Kansas and Illinois State University I have coauthored several publications on the topic, including two articles in prestigious and widely-read publications (EOS Transactions and PE&RS) and another manuscript that uses sea level rise as a case for establishing a framework for mapping hazard and risk (Cartographica).  Our work has prompted many inquiries and citations by scientists and journalists around the world and has been featured in National Geographic and in educational visualizations sponsored by NASA and NOAA. Building on that sea level rise mapping work, I have worked with student researchers to understand the potential spatial and cultural impact of short- and long-term sea level rise events (tsunami vs. climate-induced sea rise) on coastal urban areas. Part of this work has included outreach projects in my GIS courses as I have integrated community geography into my teaching.  In Spring 2012 and again in 2013, for example, I directed class projects in my Advanced GIS & GPS course to develop interactive maps of Wisconsin’s Devil’s Lake State Park.   DevilsLakeMap   In 2011, I was a researcher/app developer on a large team of faculty and students at Illinois State University’s GEOMAP program, where we developed a web-mapping system for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.