Urban Geography, Intersectional Feminist Theory and Anti-racist Geographies, Participatory Action Research, Societal Dimensions of Information and Communication Technologies, Infrastructure and Sustainability, Just Socio-ecological Transitions


My research interests are in areas of urban geography, feminist and critical race studies, and social action research. I have approached these broad and interconnected fields through theoretically informed, empirical research examining how urban and economic processes construct and are constructed by relations of power and inequity. My goal is to co-produce transdisciplinary knowledge that has societal impacts. 

My current research examines how infrastructure shapes health and well-being across urban-rural systems in order to enhance sustainable regional systems. For example, I am working with a team examining the impacts of air pollution on people’s health in a telecoupled system in Colombia. I am also examining how public schools in Pennsylvania played a critical role as social infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic. This builds upon previous research focused on the relationships among access to information and communication technologies (ICTs); economic, educational, and health disparities; and poor people’s community-based organizing in the United States. 

I received my PhD (1994) and MA (1991) from the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University and a MA (1988) in Urban and Regional Studies from the University of Sussex. Prior to joining the Temple faculty in 1996, I was on the faculty at Georgia State University and the University of Southern California. 

I currently serve as Chair of the Department of Geography and Urban Studies and Director of the Center for Sustainable Communities. I serve on the editorial board of Geographical Review. I have served as Treasurer and National Councillor of the Association of American Geographers and Director of the Greater Philadelphia Women’s Studies Consortium. I received the 2011 Jan Monk Service Award for contributions to the advancement of women and feminist geography in the discipline and the broader public.

I have also worked with a number of community organizations related to economic empowerment and digital inequalities. I served for 12 years on the Board of School Directors in the Lower Merion School District and am a former member of the Montgomery County Planning Commission Board in Pennsylvania.

Curriculum Vitae

Selected Publications

  • Gilbert, Melissa R., Eakin, Hallie, McPhearson, Timon (Eds).  Special Issue on “The Role of Infrastructure in Societal Transformations Toward Sustainability” Current Opinion on Environmental Sustainability. Forthcoming April 2022.
  • Karkun Sen, S.; Pearsall, H.; Gutierrez-Velez, V.H.; Gilbert, M.R. (2021) Measuring Equity through Spatial Variability of Infrastructure Systems across the Urban-Rural Gradient. Land, 10, 1202.
  • Pearsall, H., V.H. Gutierrez-Velez, M.R. Gilbert, S. Hoque, H. Eakin, E. Brondizio, W. Solecki, L. Toran, J.E. Baka, J.E. Behm, C. Brelsford, C. Hinrichs, K. Henry, J. Mennis, L.A. Roman, C. Rosan, E.C. South, R.D. Valletta. (2021) Advancing equitable health and well-being across urban–rural sustainable infrastructure systems. npj Urban Sustainability 1, 26.

Courses Taught

  • History and Theory of Urban Studies
  • “Race,” Class, Gender and the City
  • MA Paper Course
  • PHD Research Design