Dr. Sandeep AgrawalDr. Sandeep Agrawal, RPP, MCIP, AICP

Professor and Inaugural Director, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences



Dr. Agrawal is an urban and regional planner whose research interests include land use planning and design, international planning, multiculturalism and human rights and planning policy. His research works have focused on changing Canadian demographics and the effects of immigration, religion and cultures on urban structures and public policies. His most recent works are on human rights and municipal zoning, regional and rural planning in Alberta, high density rural regions of India, effects of tall buildings in Colombo, Sri Lanka and migration of people between China and Canada. Dr. Agrawal served on City of Edmonton’s Subdivision and Development Appeal Board. He currently serves on the Alberta Municipal Government Board.
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Dr. Jeff BirchallDr. Jeff Birchall

Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences



Broadly speaking, my research is organized around the theme resilient cities and communities. In particular, research is divided into two programs: a) local government decision dynamics around carbon management (mitigation); and b) local government climate adaptation planning, which explores how coastal cities and communities confront climate change and adapt to the emerging challenges imposed on them due to increases in temperature, more extreme weather events and a rise in sea level.

Currently, my research program is focused on the motivations (slow v. immediate threats), extent (embedded v. appendage), actions (reactionary v. anticipatory) and nature (internal capacity) of planning for climate change adaptation in British Columbia coastal communities. This research is also informed by case studies in    New Zealand and Australia, as well as Arctic Canada/US.

I am currently looking for motivated MA students to engage in the above research program. Funding is available.


Dr. Leith DeaconDr. Leith Deacon

Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences



Dr. Deacon’s research interests are in the general areas of planning, environmental justice, environmental assessment and sustainability. More specifically, he is interested in understanding the intersections between economic, social and environmental dimensions of planning and how they contribute to long-term urban sustainable planning development. Dr. Deacon’s current research uses a sustainable urban planning framework to examine resource-based communities in Canada and Australia.


Dr. Manish ShirgaokarDr. Manish Shirgaokar, AICP

Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences



Dr. Shirgaokar’s expertise and interests are in the areas of transportation policy, land use planning, international development, and urban design. Specifically, his research interests are located in understanding factors that drive consumption at disaggregate (household, agent) levels. His past work has examined how land use and socio-economic factors hasten previously non-motorized middle-class Indian households towards buying and using scooters, motorcycles, and cars in Mumbai. Currently, he is working on local projects which include how transit agencies think of social equity; differential demand on bus versus metro/LRT services; seniors (65+) and transportation network companies (e.g., Uber); time budgets, travel choices, and gender; and bicycling behavior across seasonal variations. Ongoing international projects include travel behavior and mode choice across genders in Mumbai; slum housing tenure and monsoon disaster impacts in Kolkata.

Dr. Shirgaokar uses mixed methods in his research, relying on both qualitative and quantitative tools. In terms of qualitative skills, he is looking for motivated students who have learned about interviews and focus groups, and are interested in his research areas. In terms of quantitative skills, students who are comfortable with numbers, are statistically literate, and have an interest in land use and transportation are welcome to contact him for research opportunities.

Website: www.shirgaokar.com / Twitter: @ShirgaokarM

Dr. Amrita SinghDr. Amrita Singh

Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences



Dr. Singh examines the economic implications of environmental degradation and restoration of environmental amenities (e.g. parks, green ways, water bodies, etc.). She specifically examines how changes to environmental amenities impact revenue streams for municipalities. Recently, Dr. Singh examined how falling water levels and increases in air and water pollutants impact property values in and near the Salton Sea. The Sea, which is emblematic of desiccating water bodies all over the world, is located in Imperial Valley an economically vulnerable agricultural region for Southern California. She is currently examining how falling water levels of the Colorado River impact property values and travel behavior to Lake Mead in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her future work will explore cost and benefits of changing environmental conditions in Alberta.

Students interested in economic analysis of environmental amenities as well as green development projects at the municipal level should contact Dr. Singh directly.

Dr. Robert SummersDr. Robert Summers, RPP, MCIP

Instructor, Faculty Service Officer and Associate Director, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences



Dr. Summer’s research areas include sustainable livelihoods, rural water supply, development studies and social institutions of resource management. His recent research has centered around the social management institutions for water points in rural villages in Malawi. Dr. Summers is also interested in collaborative environmental management in Canada.

Dr. Kyle WhitfieldDr. Kyle Whitfield, RPP, MCIP

Associate Professor, Faculty of Extension



Dr. Whitfield is an Associate Professor and a Registered Professional Planner, MCIP. She believes in, practices, and study’s capacity building in communities. Dr. Whitfield’s program of research explores community planning as one way to improve health and health care. She is most interested in exploring the many factors that influence citizens leading and planning their own approaches to health and well-being. Dr.Whitfield’s curiosities span several areas: citizen engagement, participatory approaches, methods of fostering citizenship, resiliency in communities, and the balance of theory and practice in community planning.  She teaches: “Community Planning and Engagement” (HGP 315) in the School of Urban and Regional Planning; “Health, Community and Development” in the School of Public Health and “Citizen Engagement and Consultation” in the Faculty of Extensions’, Applied Land Use Planning Program.

Dr. Kristof van AsscheDr. Kristof van Assche

Adjunct Professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Professor, Faculty of Extension



Dr. Van Assche is interested in evolution and innovation in governance, with focus areas in spatial, environmental and development policy. He worked in various countries and often combines fieldwork with theoretical reflection: systems theories, post- structuralism, institutionalism and others. With regards to planning, he is especially interested in the way planning is embedded in society, and how the steering and molding of communities and territories in and by planning is subjected to the forces that bind together law, economy, politics in specific patterns: what counts as planning, who is planning and what can be planned is the product of a co- evolution of rules and roles in governance. Geographically, his work covers Europe, Central Asia and the Americas.

For inquiries about graduate work, please contact Dr. Van Assche directly. In particular, work about the roles of law in planning, natural resource management and planning, planning and evolving governance, rural development and innovation are welcomed. Click here for more information and publications.

Associated Faculty

Dr. Damian CollinsDr. Damian Collins

Associate Professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences



Dr. Collins’ interests span urban and social geography, as well as public health. His research explores the public aspects of contemporary social life – specifically public policies, public services and public spaces.  He seeks to understand why these ‘public things’ are important, and how rights shape their distribution.  His work is undertaken in Alberta, British Columbia and New Zealand.


Dr. Theresa GarvinDr. Theresa Garvin

Professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences



Dr. Garvin’s research interests lie in the general area of environment and health, as well as in health policy development and processes. These have substantive, theoretical and methodological components including: The roles of science and policy as they interact in environmental problems with health outcomes; The transfer and uptake of information between scientists and policy makers; How scientific evidence and policy decisions are (or are not) accepted and acted upon by communities and individuals; The influence of risk and uncertainty on community mobilization, as well as the social constructions of those risks and uncertainties; The application of policy analytic and qualitative research methods in environmental health research.

Dr. Tara McGeeDr. Tara McGee

Professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences



Dr. McGee’s research focuses on the human dimensions of environmental hazards.  She is interested in hazard awareness, risk perception and mitigation, particularly in areas that are prone to natural or technological hazards.  She is currently leading a research partnership to learn about the wildfire evacuation experiences of First Nations residents.  She has completed several studies of wildfire risk perception and mitigation activities by homeowners and local governments.  Her research also includes research on how university students would respond to an emergency alert.  Dr. McGee’s research includes studies in Alberta, elsewhere in Canada, and internationally.  Dr. McGee supervises graduate students with research interests in social science aspects of hazards, currently including wildfire evacuation experiences of residents in Dene Tha First Nation, Deer Lake and Sandy Lake First Nations; earthquake recovery in Pakistan; wildfire mitigation by local governments; and landslide mitigation by governments.

robshieldsDr. Rob Shields, DPhil

Henry Marshall Tory Chair and Professor, Extension/Arts, Department of Sociology



Rob Shields work spans architecture, planning and urban geography.   He is an award-winning author and co-editor of numerous books including  Spatial Questions, The Virtual, Lifestyle Shopping, Cultures of Internet, Lefebvre Love and Struggle, Places on the Margin, and Building Tomorrow: Innovation in Construction and Engineering as well as online projects such as strip-appeal.com and spaceandculture.com  Before being awarded the University of Alberta’s Henry Marshall Tory Endowed Research Chair in Sociology, Dr. Shields was Professor of Sociology and past Director of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies at Carleton University, Ottawa.  A Commonwealth Scholar at University of Sussex, Robs early career was in passive solar design which he studied at Carleton University’s School of Architecture. He founded Space and Culture, an international peer-refereed journal, and Curb Canadian planning magazine. He was 2014 City of Vienna Visiting Professor in Architecture and Planning at TUWien and is currently completing research on nanotechnology as a space of concern.

Dr. Carl Amrhein, RPP, MCIP, FRCGS

Professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences



Dr. Eran Kaplinsky

Associate Professor, Faculty of Law



Professional Associates 

Erik Backstrom, MCIP, RPP, Sr. Planner, City of Edmonton

Dynanesh Deshpande, MCIP, RPP, Green Space Alliance

Duncan Fraser, MCIP, RPP, Sr. Planner, City of Edmonton

Paul Kowal, MCIP, RPP, City of Edmonton

Brian McCosh, MCIP, RPP, Planner, City of Edmonton

Travis Pawlyk, MCIP,RPP, Sr. Planner, City of Edmonton

Bob Priebe, MCIP, RPP, former Director, Parks Planning, City of Edmonton