Research Statement

At first glance, the scope of my work may seem broad. I have written and presented on confederate monuments, conservation refugees, affordable housing, disaster response, mountaintop removal, National Monuments, intangible cultural heritage, and urban renewal's impact on heat island effects. However, the underlying thread in each of these areas is that they seek to consider the impact of law, policy, preservation, and planning on vulnerable populations and their social, environmental, and economic well-being. Issues impacting these pillars of sustainability are unfortunately often addressed separately. I have sought to integrate these divergent stories into one that demonstrates how solutions to each of these problems are reliant on one another and to illustrate how the broader impacts of undertakings ranging from mountaintop removal to monument relocation share commonalities that can inform advocacy work in multiple arenas. Further, outside the four corners of the law, diverse parties fighting for enforcement of or improvement to the law or for a more effective alternative have consistently demonstrated the relationship between protecting their cultural resources and issues of equity and justice. My work, therefore, examines issues of sustainability through then lens of heritage conservation. 

Social JusticeI have sought to gain a better understanding of how an active community is necessary to facilitate ethical government action and requires a system by which key players (i.e. government and the public) can work together and address the limitations in and the need for an expanded role for traditionally underrepresented and underserved communities in decision-making. My work in the 2018-2019 academic year continued to address the issues surrounding monuments and memorialization, which I began during the prior year as part of a panel in University of Kentucky’s Civics and Citizenship in the 21st Century series, “Whose Past?: Monuments and Memorials in a Changing Society” (October 4, 2017). Whereas the initial presentation solely addressed the legal issues surrounding the monument removal controversy, my subsequent work addressed the role of grassroots efforts in concert with the constitutional support for the removal of confederate monuments (Cornell University, Attkinson Forum, 2018). I expanded upon the role of community advocacy in other non-traditional preservation efforts beyond Cheapside Park, including the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and Davis Bottom in a conference paper co-authored with Doug Appler for the 2019 Annual Conference for the Association for Collegiate Schools of Planning Annual Conference. I am currently in the process of completing a journal article for submission to Preservation Education & Research that will provide an explanation of the constitutional implications of removal, state and local laws, and public and civic responses to government actions and am writing a short invited piece on recent judicial decisions for Human Rights, a publication of the American Bar Association. Dr. Appler and I also have further plans to expand upon the work done for the ACSP conference to create an article for a planning journal. 

Environmental Justice. The need to protect vulnerable communities from distributional disparities and general environmental harm has been central to my research and professional service. My article “The Price of Global Conservation: Benefits and Burdens of Parks and Conservation Areas” (Natural Resources & Environment, 33(2) 2018) continued to develop the impact of environmental practice on indigenous populations by addressing the creation of conservation refugees as a negative externality associated with governments setting aside areas for the protection of biodiversity. 

Economic Justice


  which addressed utilizing the National Historic Preservation Act to prevent mountaintop removal. The changing role of local governments in response to federal environmental deregulation was further explored in work on the creation of local environmental justice laws in several cities sparked by the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.  


My work addressing vulnerable populations will also appear in an article accepted in The Forum Journal that considers the existing and potential legal protections for intangible cultural heritage in the United States. Such protections will arguably broaden the reach of preservation by lessening (or potentially removing) the existing requirements for integrity that have restricted recognition of sites associated with contested histories and will consider the needs of .  

Additionally, my work associated with Dr. Doug Appler’s NEH funded Symposium on Urban Renewal will result in a paper addressing how policies on slum clearance perpetuated the creation of environmental justice communities.  


Working with Dr. Allison Gibson from the College of Social Work, I have completed and will submit (11 January 2019) a grant to the University of Wisconsin, Institute for Research on Poverty (Extramural Small Grants) on the study of affordable housing and historic preservation in Kentucky.


In my work for the American Bar Association Section for Civil Rights and Social Justice’s Environmental Justice Committee, I am in the process of completing policy papers on disaster response in environmental justice communities as well as a paper redefining and updating the ABA’s policy to reflect changes in the field of environmental justice (formerly known as “environmental equity).


In the long term, I would like to use the extensive work done regarding the remediation of Onondaga Lake at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels to submit a book proposal on the need for a combined top-down and bottom-up approach to environmental remediation in order to achieve success. The case study is illustrative of the need for community and tribal participation along with cooperation between levels of government. In beginning to revisit this research, I have submitted an abstract to the May 2020 

Further, I will continue to pursue research addressing how the law disproportionately impacts the culture, environment, and economy of traditionally vulnerable populations in the United States; however, I would like to expand my geographic scope to incorporate more work relating to international laws and policies impacting cultural and natural resource protection.