The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture

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Sarah Dooling

Assistant Professor, Urban Ecology
School of Architecture and the Environmental Science Institute


GOL 2.308 | office
+1 512 471 7878 | phone

The University of Texas at Austin
School of Architecture
310 Inner Campus Drive Stop B7500
Austin, TX 78712-1009


2008 University of Washington, Interdisciplinary PhD Urban Design and Planning
2002 University of Maine, Masters in Social Work
1993 University of Maine, Bachelors of Science, Wildlife Management

areas of interest

Urban ecology; Urban Vulnerabilities; Ecosystem Services; Spatial Justice; Interdisciplinary Pedagogy

I am interested in the patterns and processes associated with urbanization, with an emphasis on vulnerable populations (e.g., low-income families and water birds) and vulnerable spaces (e.g., urban parks, urban creeks and gentrifying neighborhoods). Integrating natural and social science disciplines, my work focuses on the ways in which social and ecological components of urban systems come together in unanticipated ways. Out of work that analyzed connections between homelessness and public urban parks, I have developed the concept of ecological gentrification, which I currently define as the implementation of an environmental planning project related to public green spaces that results in the production of unequal distribution of economic benefits, while espousing an environmental ethic, and the displacement or exclusion of select human populations. My current research projects include: (1) analyzing the integrated social and ecological consequences of low-income households who have relocated out of center city neighborhoods in Austin to the urban fringe; and (2) establishing multiple sites for long-term monitoring along the spatial gradient in the Austin metropolitan region, in order to conduct longitudinal analysis of ecological and social change under conditions of increasing uncertainty (e.g., climatically and economically).

Courses Taught

Introduction to Urban Ecology, Ecosystem Services and Equity, Field-based Urban Ecology, Cities and Sustainability


Dooling, S. (forthcoming: September 2009) Ecological gentrification: A research agenda exploring justice in the city. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 33(3).

Dooling, S. (2008) Ecological gentrification: Re-negotiating justice in the city. Critical Planning 15: 41-58. *Paper nominated by the Editorial Board for the Ed Soja Prize.

Dooling, S., Graybill, J., Greve, A. (2007). Response to Young and Wolf: Goal attainment in urban ecology research. Urban Ecosystems 10: 339-347.

Dooling, S., Simon, G, Yocom, K. (2006). Place-based urban ecology: A century of park planning in Seattle. Urban Ecosystems 9(4):299-321.

Graybill, J.K., Dooling, S., Shandas, V., Withey, J., Greve, A., Simon, G. (2006). A rough guide to interdisciplinarity: Graduate student perspectives. BioScience 56(9): 757-763.