Kate first discovered the field of planning in graduate school while studying landscape architecture. She recalls an urban development project of an impound lot in the space of a natural wetland, with environmental and social implications as the area was inhabited by a homeless population. “We could design for what the space might look like if we simply redesigned it, but I was interested in the people and the place questions and how it is all related. The questions I was interested in answering were in planning, not landscape architecture.” Since that time, Kate earned Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP) and Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning, both from The Ohio State University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Ohio University.
Kate credits her father as the earliest influence in her life for planning as a future profession and way of experiencing the world. Since he was a newspaper editor, he “helped me to become curious about what was going on in the world.” Kate said, “Planning is the behind the scenes of the way every city functions. It has a hand in everything from what gets developed, with what intensity, and where.” She speculates that most people become familiar with the discipline through notices about community zoning meetings. “Planning is happening in every movie I watch,” says Kate. “For example Wall-E, is all about it.” From explaining Pixar movies to mapping place-based research, Kate helps others to understand our interactions with where we live.
Kate’s research focuses on the intersection of human behavior and the built and natural environments. Under this research umbrella, Kate has studied branding and urban design in ethnic enclaves, neighborhood satisfaction in the face of commercial and residential real estate changes, and non-motorized travel behavior, preferences, and attitudes. Kate has lived and worked at the Urban Land Institute in Washington D.C., the International Federation for Housing and Planning in the Netherlands, Arizona State University in Arizona, and Westfield State University in Massachusetts.
The aspect of planning that Kate is most interested in through the Metropolitan Research Center is the people aspect of urban and development planning. She is looking to diversify what the team has been researching beyond transportation to community health and housing, for example. Kate looks to expand the number of funded projects to further the centers research capabilities as well.
New to the State of Utah, Kate and her family are already exploring the outdoor recreational opportunities available from every mountain view of the Salt Lake Valley. From Big and Little Cottonwood, to Park City, and Lake Blanche, Kate and her wife Brittney have been actively engaged with the natural beauty of Utah. She notes the wildflowers and high elevation lakes as welcome surprises, and a hot springs on the docket for their next outdoor travels.
From all of us at the College of Architecture + Planning, welcome Kate! We look forward to discovering more about our urban environment and hiking opportunities with you.