Doctoral Dissertations in Geography and Geography and Urban Regional Analysis

The PhD in Geography and Urban Regional Analysis program at UNC Charlotte was launched in Fall 2006 and graduated its first students in 2011. In 2016, Faculty in the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences approved adjustment of the degree’s name to better reflect the breadth of student interest, faculty expertise and program specialization in three core areas of study: Urban Regional Analysis; Earth and Environmental Sciences and Geographic Informational Systems and Technology. Below is a listing of completed dissertations since the program’s inception in the following format: Student Name, "Dissertation Title." (Faculty Advisor)

20212020 - 2019 201820172016 - 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011


Paul Jung, "Distance Friction and Spatial Interaction Dynamics of International Freight Transportation." (Jean-Claude Thill) 

Danny Yonto, "Gentrification in Charlotte: A Complex Tale of Urban Redevelopment Across Multiple Scales." (Jean-Claude Thill) 

Barbara Pinson Lash, "An Athletes Humble Beginnings: A place-based narrative in need of repair." (Colleen Hammelman)

Elina Shepard (Sukaryavichute), "Impacts of Light Rail Investment on Commercial Landscapes in Transit Neighborhoods." (Elizabeth Delmelle)


Claudio Owusu, "Multilevel Geocoding and Spatial Modeling to Predict Risk of Water Contamination found in Private Wells across Gaston County, North Carolina." (Eric Delmelle)

Brisa Urquieta de Hernandez, "The Influence of Urban Restructuring on the Social Determinants of Health in a Hispanic Immigrant Population in Charlotte, North Carolina." (Heather Smith)

Minrui Zheng, "Spatially Explicit Hyperparameter Optimization for Neural Networks." (Wenwu Tang)

Daidai Shen, "Study of High-Skill Manufacturing in the Space Economy: Understanding the Logic of Network and Knowledge Diffusion through its Cities." (Jean-Claude Thill)

Jing Deng, "A GIS-Based Expert System to Improve the Accuracy of Wetland Classification." (Eric Delmelle)

Michael Desjardins, "A Mixed-methods Approach for Vector-borne Disease Surveillance in Colombia." (Eric Delmelle)

Cache Owens, “Demystifying the Charlotte Way: Towards an Understanding of Collective Action for Education in the Queens City.” (Janni Sorensen)



Yinan He, "Multi-Sensor Remote Sensing for Understanding the Interacting Environmental Disturbances of Forest Fire and Plant Disease" (Gang Chen)

Thomas J. Howarth, “Competing Rationalities: Capital, Power, Gentrification and Affordable Housing in Charlotte, North Carolina.” (Janni Sorensen)

Maryam Khabazi, “Quantifying Light Rail’s Effect on Intra-urban Distribution of Economic Activity and community Patterns.” (Isabelle Nilsson)



Elizabeth Shockey-Morrell, "Subprime Charlotte: Trajectories of Neighborhood Change in a Globalizing New South City." (Heather Smith)

Tonya Farrow-Chestnut, "Defining Multimorbidity Space; Structural characteristics, spatial variation of inpatient multimorbidity networks (IMN), and coronary heart disease." (Harrison Campbell)

Alex Hohl, "Accelerating the Detection of Space-Time Patterns Under Non-Stationary Background Population." (Eric Delmelle)

Adam Griffith,  "Planning for Coastal Resilience: the Intersection of Theory and Practice." (Wei-Ning Xiang)

Ari Whiteman, "Socioeconomic Variation and Aedes Mosquitoes: An Examination of Vector-Borne Disease Transmission Risk in the Urban Environment." (Eric Delmelle)



Tetianna Lysenko, “Labor Outcomes of Recent U.S. College Graduates in the STEM Disciplines: From the College Location Perspective.”  (Qingfang Wang)

Wenpeng Feng, “Large-Scale Spatiotemporal Modeling of Urban Growth With Cyberinfrastrucre:  A Surrogate-Based Approach.”  (Wenwu Tang)

Angel Hjarding, “The Butterfly Highway: Connecting People and Nature.” (Janni Sorensen)

Ran Tao, “No Boundary for Spatial Interactions-- Exploratory Spatial Flow Data Analysis.”  (Jean-Claude Thill)



Coline Dony, “Better Access to Parks to Improve Population Health In Mecklenburg County, N.C.”  (Eric Delmelle)

Johanna (Claire) Schuch, “Socio-Spatial Geographies of Hispanic Immigrant Youth Accessing the Urban Labor Market” (Heather Smith).

Yuhong Zhou, “Space-Time Dynamics of Single Family Residential Water Consumption in Charlotte, North Carolina” (Jean-Claude Thill). 



Tara Bengle, “Learning and Understanding Empowerment Planning:  An Emergent Model that Builds Community Capacity to Affect Neighborhood Planning Outcomes” (Janni Sorensen).

Melissa Currie, “Assessing Community Resilience at the Neighborhood Level in New Construction Starter-Homes in Charlotte, North Carolina” (Janni Sorensen).

Zhaoya (Amos) Gong, “Multiscaler Modeling of Polycentric Urban-Regional Systems:  Economic Agglomeration, Scale Dependency and Agent Interactions” (Jean-Claude Thill).

Xuchu (Harry) Meng, “Environmental Impacts of Rapid Urbanization:  Non-Point Source Pollution in Lingang New City, Shanghai, China”(Wei-Ning Xiang).

Kara Tiller, “Spatial Patterns of Landside Trade Impedance in Containerized South American Exports” (Jean-Claude Thill).

Kailas Venkitasubramanian, “Discovering Relationships between Material Consumption and Subjective Well-Being” (Jean-Claude Thill). 



Robyn Byers-Stuber, “Planning for Sustainability on Maryland’s Eastern Shore: Linking Social Sustainability and Sea Level Rise” (Wei-Ning Xiang).

J. Thad Dixon, “Exploring Latino Healthcare Service Provision in a Pre-Emerging Immigrant Gateway State” (Heather Smith).

Monica Dorning, “Landscape Change and Human-Environment Interactions: Implications for Natural Resource Management in Urbanizing Areas” (Ross Meentemeyer).

M. Greg Fields, “ The Correlates of Congestion:  Investigating the Links between Congestion and Urban Area Characteristics” (Jean-Claude Thill).

Sara Gleave, “The Best Deal in Town?  Associations Between Public Housing and Labor Market Inequality in the New Orleans- Metaiirie-Kenner MSA” (Qingfang Wang).

Mona Kashiha, “ Spatial Competition based on Customers’ Choice Histories: A Study of Trade Flows”  (Jean-Claude Thill).

JaeSoen Son, “Hyperlink Network System and Image of Global Cities Webpages and their contents”  (Jean-Claude Thill).

Amy Stephens-Davis,“ Impacts of Urbanization and Landscape Change on Native Plant Diversity and the Distribution of Exotic Forest Invaders”  (Jean-Claude Thill).      



Diep Dao, “A Comprehensive Geospatial Knowledge Discovery Framework for the Spatial Association Rule Mining” (Jean-Claude Thill).

Paul McDaniel, “Receptivity in a New Immigrant Gateway: Immigrant Settlement Geography, Public Education and Immigrant Integration in Charlotte, North Carolina” (Heather Smith).        



Amr Ali, “The Influences of Urban Forms on ResidentialEnergy Consumption:  A Demand-Side Forecasting Method for Energy Scenarios” (Jean-Claude Thill).

Elizabeth Delmelle, “Spatial Temporal Dynamics of Neighborhood Quality of Life:  Charlotte, N.C “(Jean-Claude Thill).

Ryan James, “The Effects of Space and Scale on Beta Convergence Testing in the United States, (1970-2004)” (Harry Campbell).

Jonathan Kozar, “Knowledge Intensive Business Services and Metropolitan Economic Growth:  An Examination of the Computer Service Industry” (Bill Graves).     



Thomas Ludden, “The Impacts of Mortgage Foreclosure on Housing Prices and Homeownership in Charlotte, North Carolina” (Owen Furuseth).

Tomas Vaclavik, “Frontiers in Invasive Species Distribution Modeling (iSDM): Assessing effects of Absence Data, Dispersal Constraints, Stage of Invasion and Spatial dependence” (Ross Meentemeyer).