Research Activities


My research has focused on two primary areas: bureaucratic incorporation of immigrants and climate change.

Immigrant Integration in the United States

This research examines the local construction of law on the street regarding immigrants. Local agencies play a key role in immigration enforcement and in providing services to immigrants. They are increasingly the face of the state to immigrants, a face that varies across localities and regions and ranges from friendly to hostile. While much attention has been focused on punitive responses to immigration, my research found that many local police departments and public libraries have adopted surprisingly welcoming policies toward immigrants. Drawing on nationwide surveys of local police departments and public libraries and interviews with department leaders and frontline employees, my research shows that many agencies have consciously and deliberately developed policies and practices that are intended to develop positive relationships between the agency and immigrants, encourage immigrants’ use of the agency and help immigrants integrate into the community.

Climate Change in Greenland and the Arctic

This interdisciplinary research examined the social, political, geographic and ecological factors and implications of climate change in the Arctic. My research focused on the potential of loss of sea ice in the Arctic to serve as a focusing event that might prompt U.S. ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty. Research activities included travel to Greenland to see first-hand glacial melting and to speak with scientists and policy makers involved in this area.

Climates & Borders - Monarch Butterflies & Local Economies in Mexico

This interdisciplinary project examined the cross-border migration between the U.S. and Mexico of Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) with a goal of understanding the social, political, geographic and ecological factors that shape the migration. We tested the hypothesis of climate-change causation of mortality events and found, at least in part, significant local weather trends toward conditions lethal for monarch survival. We used ecological niche estimates and future climate projections to estimate future overwintering distributions; results anticipate dramatic reductions in suitability of present overwintering areas, and serious implications for local human economies.

Climate Change in Indigenous Communities

Collaborated with faculty and students at Haskell Indian Nations Unviversity in Lawrence, Kansas on an interdisciplinary research project in the Haskell/Baker Wetlands evaluating and analyzing the cultural, historical, political and ecological implications of the construction of the South Lawrence Trafficway. Conducted climate science and research methods training at Haskell and mentored undergraduate Haskell students who developed field research projects on Native lands.