Biography: I am a public scholar broadly trained in human geography with expertise in community geography and Geographic Information Systems, critical GIS, Participatory GIS (PGIS), mixed methods, STEM education, Belize and citizen science. I am a tenured, Associate Professor of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and a co-lead of the GIS Research Cluster Initiative at University of Central Florida. I am also the Founding Research Director of Citizen Science GIS, an international organization, which has been recognized as an Esri Special Achievement in GIS Awardee. Since 2018, I’ve also proudly served as the Geography Steward for the State of Florida through National Geographic.
In 2019, the UCF President named me as 1 of 3 UCF Reach for the Stars Awardees. This prestigious award for junior faculty “honors and rewards highly successful research and creative activity accomplished by early-career university professionals.”
Grant Funding: As a faculty member, I have received over $4 million dollars in funding including multiple awards from the National Science Foundation. The first is a $374,480 three-year research grant as PI for a Community Geography, GIS, and Citizen Science Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site in Belize to examine flooding and beach debris. It builds from my previous experience as PI of the nation’s first community geography and GIS REU Site when I was a faculty member at Georgia State University, part of a $350,000 NSF REU Site grant from 2012-2015. The second grant as PI is a merit-based NSF supplemental grant of $75,000 to expand our REU Site with drone mapping and spatial storytelling to examine coastal and island resiliency in Belize. The third as Co-PI is a $1,600,000 NSF Coupled Natural-Human Systems research grant for examining coastal restoration in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida. We are in year two of this grant where I co-lead the GIS and sense of place portions of the award. The fourth award in late 2018 is a $1.3 million NSF grant (Co-PI) with Dr. Emmett Duffy and the Smithsonian’s MarineGeo program. Over the next three years, my role in the grant is to drone map and interview scientists and community members at over 25 Smithsonian field sites along the western coast of North America from San Diego, California to Alaska. The fifth NSF award for $36,743 (Co-PI) was awarded earlier this summer and supported the first ever conference on community geography workshop in January 2019.
Research Focus: My work as a public scholar in critical GIS and community geography currently focuses on people-centered approaches to understand and represent local context and community-based understandings of spatial issues. I define community geography as a process, set of methods, and collaborative framework that utilizes spatial thinking and geographic approaches which enable academic institutions and communities to effectively partner in inclusive, mutually beneficial, shared research experiences (Hawthorne et al., 2015; Roberts-Gregory and Hawthorne, 2016; Bennett-Martin et al., 2016; Osborne Jelks et al., 2018). In my experiences working with residents and organizations both in the U.S. and in Belize, community geography through the lens of critical GIS contributes to new collaborative science and society partnerships as members of local communities become involved in the research process and see how collaborative research can assist in sharing local knowledge through sketch mapping, interviews, and spatial storytelling, while challenging dominant discourses.
Educational Training: I earned my PhD in Geography in 2010 from The Department of Geography at The Ohio State University where I worked under the direction of Dr. Mei-Po Kwan. I received my M.A. in Geography in 2005 from the Department of Geology and Geography at West Virginia University where I worked under the direction of Dr. Daniel Weiner. I am also a 2003 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University where I received a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Geography with a minor in English where I was advised by Dr. John Krygier.
Editorial Work: I serve as Associate Editor of both The Journal of Geography and The International Journal of Applied Geospatial Research.
Mentoring Award: As a former faculty member at Georgia State University (GSU), I was recognized by the GSU Honors College with their most prestigious mentoring award as I received the 2015 Faculty Award for Undergraduate Research and Mentoring.