G. Thomas LaVANCHY


I am a broadly trained scholar with research interests in nature-society relationships, water resources, and political ecology themes. My research projects are interdisciplinary, multi-scalar, and multi-process--requiring insights and background in the natural and social sciences. I have conducted research in the Sahel of West Africa, the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes of Guatemala, and the southwest coast of Nicaragua.

I take great pleasure in teaching undergraduate students in the classroom and in field classes. I use a variety of teaching methods to educate students on fundamental scientific principles, but my goal is to push students beyond classroom material to relate contemporary environmental issues to their daily lives and to foster critical and analytical thinking about relationships between nature and society. I believe good scholarship, reflected in thinking and writing, to be an impetus for addressing complex challenges facing society.

In addition to thirteen years of college teaching experience, I have organized and led experiential learning trips (service learning, field courses, and internships) for students to seventeen different countries. I find these experiential learning opportunities to be extraordinarily rewarding for myself and for my students. I prefer to give students sufficient background on geographical and cultural landscapes and then allow them to ‘read’ the field and connect the dots between what they have read and what they see and feel. In the field, I rely upon established relationships with students to foster discussion, feedback, and learning.

My research has been supported by grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (STAR Fellowship Assistance Agreement no. FP917478), the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers, the Association of American Geographers, and other sources from the University of Denver.


I am an EPA STAR Fellow and PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of Denver.  I am in the dissertation writing stage of my program (based in Denver, Colorado).

I am a member of AAG, CLAG, GSA, and  IAH.


Matthew J. Taylor, PhD

Areas of Interest:

Human-Environment Interactions

Political Ecology

Cultural Geography

Latin America Geography




AM      University of Chicago

                   Social Sciences

BA      Wheaton College

                Geology, Education