UNC’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies is happy to announce the recent addition of ten new Faculty Fellows to our cohort of 91 faculty members representing 27 departments across campus. At any time, our Faculty Fellows, along with graduate students and Center staff, are conducting approximately 40 research projects managed by CURS. The Center offers a wide range of services to faculty and their students, including support for research proposal development and submission, grant administration and research dissemination.
Anita Brown-Graham is a professor of public law and government and director of the ncIMPACT Initiative. ncIMPACT seeks to expand the School of Government’s capacity to work with public officials on complex policy issues such as economic mobility, poverty, the expansion of prekindergarten, extending the labor pool, and opioid misuse and abuse. Brown-Graham was previously a Faculty Fellow as a School of Government faculty member from 1994 to 2006, during which she specialized in governmental liability and community economic development aimed at revitalizing communities. In 2007, Brown-Graham became director of the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University. There, she led efforts to build North Carolina’s capacity for economic development and prosperity, working with leaders from across the state in the areas of business, government and higher education to focus on issues important to North Carolina’s future. She returned to the School of Government in 2016 and is a CURS Faculty Fellow once again. She was recently awarded the Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Professorship. Brown-Graham earned a law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.
Sarah E. Dempsey is an associate professor of communication and director of undergraduate studies for the department. She teaches courses on organization, work and globalization, food politics and contemporary social theory. Dempsey has written on topics including the politics of social change; voice, representation and accountability in the nonprofit sector; community and grassroots organizing; engaged scholarship; cultural ideologies of meaningful work; and transnational feminisms. Her research appears in journals such as Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Communication Monographs, Feminist Media Studies, Management Communication Quarterly, Organization and Children’s Geographies. She is currently at work on a project on the politics of labor and reform in the U.S. food system. Dempsey holds a PhD from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Erik S. Gellman is an associate professor of history. He researches and teaches about working-class and urban life, visual culture and comparative social movements in modern American history. He’s the author of Death Blow to Jim Crow: The National Negro Congress and the Rise of Militant Civil Rights and The Gospel of the Working Class: Labor’s Southern Prophets in New Deal America. His next book, Troublemakers: Chicago Freedom Struggles through the Lens of Art Shay, will offer a synthetic textual and visual narrative of Chicago’s postwar urban history and protest politics. Gellman is collaborating on two research and publication projects: an edited volume called New Black Chicago Histories and a 1930s-1940s labor and political history called Organizing Agribusiness from Farm to Factory: A New Food and Labor History of America’s Most Diverse Union. Gellman also serves as contributing editor to Labor: Studies in Working-Class History and was co-program chair for the 2019 Labor and Working-Class History Association conference in Durham. From 2006-2018, Gellman taught history and African American studies at Roosevelt University in Chicago. He earned his PhD from Northwestern University.
Carmen Gutierrez is an assistant professor of public policy. Her research explores issues at the intersection of social stratification, the criminal justice system and health, with an emphasis on how inequalities arise across race, ethnicity and citizenship. A central theme of her work is the use of statistical and spatial methods to address research questions that inform contemporary policy concerns. Her research has appeared in the American Sociological Review, Crime & Delinquency, and Pediatrics. Her work has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. As the 2019-20 CURS Scholar-in-Residence, Gutierrez examined the relationship between the involvement of the criminal justice system and health outcomes in the United States. Gutierrez holds a PhD in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin.
Miyuki Hino is an assistant professor in the department of city and regional planning and an adjunct assistant professor in the environment, ecology and energy program. Her research examines the linkages between climate hazards, governance and public policy to drive effective and equitable adaptation to climate change. Recent work has focused on the impacts of sea level rise, the effects of flood risk on property markets and the use of managed retreat in adapting to climate change. Hino earned a PhD in environment and resources from Stanford University. Before Stanford, she spent several years supporting evidence-based climate change adaptation and mitigation decision-making, most recently at the New Climate Economy and ICF International.
Noah Kittner is an associate professor and holds appointments in environmental sciences and engineering at the UNC School of Global Public Health, the department of city and regional planning and the environment, ecology and energy program. His research focuses on planning for sustainable, resilient and equitable energy systems at multiple scales – from distributed mini-grids to municipal and regional electricity generation. Kittner’s current projects range from modeling the role of energy storage in reaching California’s zero-carbon electricity target for 2045 to the public health impacts of continued reliance on coal and fossil-fuels. He holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.
Caela O’Connell is an assistant professor of anthropology and the environment, ecology and energy program. She is an environmental anthropologist whose research and teaching considers the intersections of agricultural communities, environmental health and climate change, focusing on water, agricultural disease, economics, decision-making and policy. O’Connell has been working with farming communities in the Caribbean and Latin America and the US since 2003. Her work includes documenting interdependent crises involving agriculture, disease, climate change and natural hazards in the Caribbean and Gulf Coast with Hurricanes Tomas in 2010 and Harvey and Maria in 2017. O’Connell holds a PhD from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Obed Pasha is an assistant professor of public management at the UNC School of Government. His research into the adoption, implementation and effectiveness of performance management systems has appeared in leading public administration journals including the Public Administration Review, Public Budgeting & Finance, Public Administration, and American Review of Public Administration. Some of Pasha’s other areas of expertise include organizational behavior, policy/public evaluation, social justice and strategic planning. He earned a degree in electrical engineering from the Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Pakistan, a masters in project management and business development at SKEMA Business School in France, and a joint PhD in public policy from the Georgia State University and Georgia Tech.
Danielle Purifoy is an assistant professor of geography. Her current research traces the roots of contemporary environmental conditions in the US South, specifically in Black towns dating back to the post-Bellum era. She’s also written about the legal dimensions of environmental justice and equity in food systems. Additionally, Purifoy is an editor at Scalawag, a magazine devoted to Southern politics and culture and the board chair of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network. Prior to becoming a professor, she was a Carolina Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the department of geography at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She completed a JD from Harvard Law School and a PhD in environmental politics and African American studies at Duke University.
Alexandrea J. Ravenelle is an assistant professor of sociology. Her research focuses on the lived experience of gig economy workers for Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit and Kitchensurfing, and the socioeconomic implications of this new economic movement. Her first book, Hustle and Gig: Struggling and Surviving in the Sharing Economy, was published by the University of California Press in March 2019. In her research, Ravenelle examines the contradictions between the lofty promises of the gig economy and the lived experience of the workers, between tech-driven entrepreneurship and the reality of rolling back generations of workplace protections. Her research utilizes ethnographic interviews with nearly 80 workers to underline the volatility of working in the 21st century gig economy. Her work has been published in The New York Times, the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society and in the book Digital Sociologies. Ravenelle has a PhD in sociology from the CUNY Graduate Center.