About Joel

As a human-environment geographer, I investigate how landscape change and natural resource governance shape societal inequalities manifest as climate and environmental injustice among Indigenous and front-line communities in Latin America. Specifically, I study the uneven effects of development-driven environmental change, particularly the destruction of South America’s largest forests — the Amazon and the Gran Chaco — and social responses to that change. My work is rooted in qualitative social science and public political ecology but transgresses traditional disciplinary boundaries through diverse mixed-methods and engaged in-situ research with front-line communities, human rights advocates, policy makers, and scientists. Teaching is a cornerstone of my scholarship. My classes expose students to major social-environmental challenges, critical approaches to conservation, and development struggles while focusing on pathways toward the possibilities for positive change. I aim to help students learn to critically evaluate information from broad disciplinary and social perspectives, demonstrate an ability to apply theory through practice, and communicate complex issues to diverse audiences. Before joining CSU, I was Assistant Professor in the Center for Latin American Studies at University of Florida (2018-22) where I coordinated the Indigenous Studies Specialization and served as core faculty in the Tropical Conservation & Development Program, School for Natural Resources & Environment, and Masters in Sustainable Development Practice. See my lab website for more info!

Google Scholar Profile CV


  • Climate & Environmental Justice
  • Political Ecology
  • Critical conservation studies
  • Rights & the environment -- specifically Indigenous rights, land rights, biocultural rights
  • Frontier development -- infrastructure, agricultural exports, water quality & access
  • Deforestation drivers, dynamics, and impacts
  • Social-ecological systems
  • Engaged/action research
  • Qualitative & mixed-methods
  • Latin America -- particularly the Gran Chaco & Amazonia
  • Justice, Equity Diversity, & Inclusion in social-ecological research


PhD, Geography - University of Colorado, Boulder
Boulder, Colorado, 2017

MA, Latin American Studies - University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona, 2012

BA, Geography - Humboldt State University
Arcata, California, 2004

AA, Liberal Arts and Sciences - College of the Redwoods
Eureka, California, 2000

Awards, Honors, Grants

  • Political Ecology Society -- Eric Wolf Prize (with co-author Marcelo Santos Rocha da Silva), 2022
  • National Science Foundation, Dynamics of Integrated Socio-Environmental Systems Grant -- Resilient Socio-Environmental Systems: Indigenous Territories in the Face of Change, Co-PI, 2021-2025
  • Fulbright Scholar, Flex Award -- Building the future: Infrastructure development, climate change, and environmental justice in Paraguay's Chaco, 2021-2023
  • Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs Junior Faculty Teaching Award, 2021
  • American Council of Learned Societies Fellow, 2021
  • University of Florida International Educator of the Year Award, 2020


  • Latin American Studies Association
  • American Association of Geographers
  • Global Environments Network
  • Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers

Web Links