My research focuses on the organizational and institutional challenges associated with local sustainability, resilience and climate-action in metropolitan regions. I draw upon a wide variety of literatures including common-pool resource governance, urban policy, organizational theory and neuroscience/data science. This transdisciplinary work explores questions of governance and management from a systems perspective to help make sense of the linkages between the environment and human institutions and behavior. I have studied the intergovernmental performance issues surrounding the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program funded by Congress in 2009, the reform of growth management regulations in Florida, citizen perceptions of local government environmental and social programs, and the cognitive biases of citizens and public managers related to climate-mitigation and social equity policies. Currently, my lab is investigating how local governments develop the organizational capabilities to advance sustainability and climate action in a post-pandemic world.
Prior to joining the tenure track, I was a Graduate Research Fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), where I was a co-PI on a Graduate Pursuit focused on cities and sustainable water management. This work involved compiling urban-scale data on the institutions, hydroclimatic conditions, and media salience of water management issues. Along with my inter-disciplinary collaborators, we used this pilot study to help secure a National Science Foundation grant (2019-2024) through the Dynamics of Integrated Socio-Environmental Systems (CNH2) program to expand this work. I was also awarded an NSF CAREER grant through the Science of Organizations program (2020-2024) to study the integration of local government sustainability planning, capacity-building and performance management in Indiana communities. My research has appeared in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Public Administration Review, Urban Studies, Policy Studies Journal, Global Environmental Change and other outlets. In 2018, I was awarded the Clarence Stone Scholar Award by the Local and Urban Politics section of the American Political Science Association. I have also watched state and local policy processes from different professional vantage points. Prior to changing careers, I worked as a government reporter for 15 years. During that time, I covered city councils, school boards, state legislatures and state and national political campaigns in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Florida for news organizations including The Kansas City Star, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Gannett News Service and the Orlando Sentinel.