I am a designer and teacher with a strong background in ecologically and culturally sensitive site design that is informed by the changing patterns and processes of place. My professional and scholarly interests focus upon our complex relationships with the environment and how these relationships are manifested in both novel and designed postnatural ecologies and hydrologies. I have a particular interest in design theory as applied to critical practice to reveal and amplify the contradictions in the social construction of nature and its physical manifestation in the novel ecosystems and hydrosocial territories. As such, I am drawn to uncanny and contradictory landscapes found at the periphery of environmental theory and embedded in the perceptual margins of our communities.
After nearly two decades in professional practice, I started my long-awaited second career at the University of Minnesota. My professional and scholarly interests concern the emerging Anthropocene paradigm as a driver of change in 21st-century design pedagogy and practice. My current research focuses on emerging socio-ecological narratives of the Anthropocene and potential new critical design discourses. In particular, my work speculates on a new lexicon of nature, which I refer to as Nature 3.x, and includes the examination of new theories of human-environment relationships emerging from the humanities and the sciences and their potential application to design through such concepts as post-natural environmentalism, hyperobjects, urban novel ecosystems, manufactured ecologies, landscape prosthesis and other related concepts. My research includes traditional forms of scholarship as well as speculative design proposals and photo and video documentation of highly altered and novel landscapes.
My professional experience and scholarship are the basis of my teaching. At the center of my instruction is a concern for balance between scholastic inquiry and pragmatic application. My teaching is consistently oriented toward providing students with the skills and knowledge necessary for critical practice, while also exploring the application of ground-breaking scholarship emerging from the Anthropocene paradigm. I lead advanced seminars and studios that provide the creative space for students to explore these issues and to develop a method of critical inquiry and design investigation that I believe will be necessary to envision creative design strategies in response to the wicked and complex problems facing future generations of landscape architects. I am grateful to have received the 2015-16 UMN College of Design Teaching Award in recognition for my teaching inside and outside of the classroom.
A centerpiece of my instruction is an award-winning, Anthropocene urbanism studio that I developed to examine issues of massive change associated with the Anthropocene paradigm. Working with sites and stakeholders in cities throughout the United States, the studio challenges students to address the complex “real world” design issues that will be at the forefront for tomorrow’s landscape architect. The studio pedagogy is also closely aligned with my research interests relative to the emerging Anthropocene paradigm and the articulation of new theories of Nature 3.x, which interrogates emergent human-environment relationships and their potential application to design.
Since joining the landscape architecture faculty, I’ve made significant positive contributions towards reshaping the MLA curriculum and professional excellence. This has included my leadership of a complete restructuring of the MLA landscape infrastructure and technology curriculum (i.e. “construction”); the re-calibration of two graduate studios and two undergraduate lecture courses; the development of a new professional practice course pedagogy; and the creation of an advanced landscape infrastructure theory seminar. This work has been complemented by efforts in recruitment and service to the Department, College and larger Twin Cities community. I presently serve on the UMN College of Design Diversity Committee, which received the 2015-16 Lillian H. Williams Award in recognition of our work towards the support and advancement of the principles of equal opportunity, equity and diversity.
I am originally from Sioux City, Iowa with Boston and New England as my adopted "second home". I was lucky enough to spend much of my formative years exploring the Loess Hills of western Iowa and the ever-changing landscape of the Missouri, Big Sioux and Floyd Rivers. These early experiences had a significant influence on my appreciation of dynamic landscape change and led to a dual major in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Studies from Iowa State University and a Master of Landscape Architecture with Distinction from Harvard's Graduate School of Design.