The College of Liberal Arts’ Geography and Urban Studies degree professors aren’t just teachers. They’re also researchers, and they encourage their students to contribute to their groundbreaking research. The Department of Geography and Urban Studies’ selected research projects have four focus areas: social justice, globalization, sustainability and geographic methods. A portion of their work is performed at the Spatial Analytics Lab. Learn more about the department’s research services.

Research Projects

Faculty research projects focus broadly on the interconnections among processes of globalization, the implications for sustainability, and the impact on equity and social justice. These research emphases incorporate a strong analytical foundation of both quantitative and qualitative geographic methods, as well as urban policy.

Sponsored research projects in the department are funded by a variety of federal and international agencies and foundations, including the National Science Foundation, the NASA, the National Institutes of Health, The World Bank, and the William Penn Foundation. Through these resources, graduate students play an integral role in sponsored research.

Focus Areas

Our work is theoretically informed and empirically grounded research in metropolitan and rural settings (U.S. and international), seeking to understand interdisciplinary and integrative analyses of complex urban processes and problems. Our faculty has expertise in a range of research methodology: qualitative methods, remote sensing, GIS, spatial statistics and program evaluation.

Our specific research foci include four main areas:

  • Social Justice
  • Globalization
  • Sustainability
  • Geographic Methods

Selected Research Projects

Innovating Graduate STEM Education Through Bio-Social Partnerships (Allison Hayes-Conroy)
Funding: National Science Foundation
Faculty Affiliated: From Geography and Urban Studies: Allison Hayes-Conroy, Kevin Henry, Hamil Pearsall, Michele Masucci; From Biology: Rob Kulathinal, Sudhir Kumar, Tonia Hsieh; From Education: Carol Brandt; From the Franklin Institute: Jayatri Das

Temple University’s Bio-social partnerships project encourages collaboration across the social and life sciences and beyond. The project is built around the BODIES SERIES graduate education sequence that is co-taught between the departments of Geography and Urban Studies and Biology. Collaborators see the human body–a complex, living phenomenon that is simultaneously biological and social–as a ”boundary object” between the biological/life and social/human sciences. The BODIES SERIES consists of a two-semester studio phase (fall-spring) and a final exhibit phase, which takes place in the summer months. Updated syllabi are available on the course materials page. The project began in fall 2015 and partners with the Franklin Institute, a science museum in Philadelphia. Learn more about this grant on the Bio-Social Blog.

Integrating Satellite Earth Observations for biodiversity decision making in Colombia (Victor H. Gutierrez-Velez)
Funding: NASA

The project aims to integrate Earth Observations from multiple satellite sources to contribute with information for decision-making in biodiversity planning and management in Colombia. We are developing a Decision Support System to help characterize biodiversity status, drivers of biodiversity change, biodiversity change scenarios and priority areas for biodiversity sampling, and monitoring.

Domesticated Elephants and Monsoon-Time Transportation in South and Southeast Asia (Jacob Shell)

This research project focuses on Burmese and northeast Indian forest communities that train Asian elephants as a means of transportation. Up through the current decade, trained elephants have figured as an important option for humans seeking mobility across geographic zones that prohibit wheeled vehicles. Elephant-based transportation becomes especially important during the flooding season, when roads are obstructed. This dual-species form of mobility endures in the overlapping Kachin, Hkamti, Moran and Adi ethnic areas of the Indo-Burmese borderlands. Combining ethnographic fieldwork and archival work, the research project evaluates the potential advantages of these practices from political, ecological and conservation standpoints. View Jacob Shell’s Visual Work

Gentrification and Green Space Development in Philadelphia (Hamil Pearsall) Dr. Hamil Pearsall is the Principal Investigator on a project examining gentrification impacts associated with the creation of 15 new parks in Philadelphia since 2008. Learn more about Dr. Pearsall’s work.

Socially Just Climate Futures (Hamil Pearsall) Dr. Hamil Pearsall is the Co-Principal Investigator on a student-based project incorporated into the Geography of Hazards course. Students work with local environmental groups and city agencies to develop podcasts on the theme of socially just climate futures in Philadelphia. (The podcasts will be shared via the Planet Philadelphia website).

Mapping the Role of Somatosenses in Youth-Based Creative Activity and Community Engagement (Allison Hayes-Conroy)
Funding: National Science Foundation

This project analyzes the role of the body in motivating youth to participate in creative social activities that positively influence their lives and the lives of their communities. The project focuses on the somatosensorial system –the complex system that enables feeling in the human body –in order to understand how the body’s capacity for feeling matters to the motivation of youth as well as to the outcomes of their social activities. The research and pedagogical programs of this NSF CAREER project integrate international, participatory and student-driven research on youth-based, creative action groups (e.g. dance, theater, and clown troupes, urban gardeners, community musicians) in Philadelphia, Colombia and South America. One of the outcomes has been the creation of a growing platform and database on community-based organizations in and around Medellin, Colombia, called El Atlas.

A Simulation Platform to Enhance Infrastructure and Community Resilience to Extreme Heat Events (Ariane Middel)
Funding: National Science Foundation
Faculty Affiliated: Mikhail Chester (ASU, PI), Ariane Middel (Temple University, Co-PI), David Hondula (ASU, Co-PI), and David Eisenman (UCLA, Co-PI)

Exposure to heat is a growing public health concern in many cities across the globe. In the US, Southwest cities have experienced increasing numbers of heat waves in the past few decades, and global climate models project significant increases in both the duration and intensity of these extreme events. Facing these challenges, very little is known about how people are exposed to heat during their day-to-day activities as they interact with urban infrastructure. To understand exposure, factors including the types of homes people live in (and whether they have and use air conditioning), their mobility choices, the quality of the infrastructure (e.g., shading, landscaping and material choice), their work situation (e.g., air-conditioned office versus outdoor worker) and their activity profiles must be considered. A systematic framework that any city can use to understand how people are exposed to heat and proactively mitigate risk is needed. To create insight into how people are exposed to heat, this work will develop an Urban Activity Heat Simulation (UAHS) platform that will join 1) a model of residential and workplace exposure, 2) travel simulations for automobile use, public transit and biking/walking, 3) urban infrastructure characteristics, 4) high-resolution urban climate data, and 5) a model of exposure thresholds. UAHS will be developed using Phoenix and Los Angeles as case studies.

Social-Spatial Risk and Protective Mechanisms in Urban Adolescent Substance Use (Jeremy Mennis)
Funding: National Institute of Health and National Institute of Drug Abuse

In this study, we propose to collect survey, real-time location and ecological momentary assessment data over a two-year period in a sample of 300 urban adolescents. This unique data set will then be applied to developing multilevel and actor-based social network models of the co-evolution of substance use behaviors, peer affiliations and the use and meaning of geographical space over time. We propose a highly contextually specific research approach to ground social networks within the social environment of adolescents’ lives. We will use Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) methodology via mobile messaging technology to simultaneously assess multiple influences on adolescent substance use in real time. Along with sampled specific coordinate data of location and a series of standard surveys, this approach will integrate the personal, social and environmental processes associated with initiation and escalation of substance use. The goal of this study is to model the evolution of multi-level mechanisms affecting substance use for urban youth. The design gives rise to two related models; 1) a hierarchical three-level longitudinal design with individual change in substance use nested within personal networks, which are in turn nested within neighborhoods and also 2) a non-hierarchical design with individuals non-uniquely linked to locations. The latter is best thought of as a bipartite (or 2-mode) social network, i.e., a network with two distinct types of vertices, in this case “locations” and “individuals,” where ties are only allowed between vertex types. Aim 1: Model changes in substance use over two years, focusing on the moderating effects of individual social network quality (risk/protection) on neighborhood-level predictors (concentrated disadvantage: low education and employment, high public assistance; drug related crime; alcohol availability). Aim 2: Model changes in substance use over two years, focusing on the mediating effects of individual network quality (riskiness) on individual-level predictors: affective, cognitive and behavioral influences. Aim 3: Model change over two years in the co-evolution of substance use and the use of space, defined by a bipartite social network linking individuals to locations, particularly focusing on: (a) Structural tendencies driven by common influence and selection-related mechanisms (e.g. bipartite-graph equivalents of transitivity, reciprocity and other network closure effects typically found in ordinary (1-mode) networks), (b) Main and moderating effects of activity spaces (individuals’ interpretation of locations) and (c) Main and moderating effects of neighborhood characteristics (which are properties of locations).

Spatial Analytics Lab (SAL@T)

Welcome to the Spatial Analytics Lab at Temple University (SAL@T)

The lab was established in 2012 as a research, education and service-based core facility at Temple University for geographic information technologies, spatial data, geographic modeling and mapping. The principal mission of the lab is to support research and education in geographical information sciences at Temple University and surrounding communities.

The research activities of the lab are sponsored through grants, contracts and programs involving faculty and graduate students from the Department of Geography and Urban Studies. The lab provides a variety of geographic information system (GIS) and spatial analytic services to Temple faculty, as well as to educational institutions, private and non-profit companies, and government agencies. SAL@T also provides valuable educational experiences for GIS students and internship applications are accepted throughout the year.

If you are interested in learning more about our lab research and the services we offer please contact Charles Kaylor or Kevin A. Henry; 215-204-2961.

Our Services


  • Grant writing (integrating geospatial analysis into objectives and methods)
  • Project-based research consulting
  • GIS project planning and management

Data Management, Processing and Mapping

  • Geocoding addresses
  • Geodatabase design
  • Geographic data acquisition, conversion/development
  • Historical GIS and data integration
  • GPS enabled field data acquisition
  • Geoprocessing
  • Map Design
  • Census data processing


  • Spatial Sampling
  • Spatial modeling
  • Spatial analysis
  • Spatial statistics
  • Network analysis
  • Developing area-based measures (e.g., SES, walkability, access to healthy foods)

Geospatial health analysis

  • Disease mapping
  • Mapping health information
  • Spatial clustering of health events
  • Analyzing access to health services
  • Analyzing geographic health disparities
  • Location allocation models for health services research
  • Mapping hazards and environmental stressors

Funding projects There are a number of ways that projects can be funded:

  • Collaborator pays Temple University based on an hourly rate using funding based on an Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).
  • Collaborator and Temple University apply for grants together.
  • Collaborator applies for grants and sub-contracts to Temple University.