Courtney Gallaher, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Research Emphases

  • Food systems and sustainable agriculture
  • Environmental management and sustainability
  • Soils
  • Human-environment interactions
  • Gender issues, esp. women in science
  • International development
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

Specific Research Endeavors

I am a jointly appointed associate professor in Geographic and Atmospheric Science (GAS) and the Center for the Study of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies (CSWGS) program. As a broadly trained human-environment geography, I work on a broad range of interdisciplinary issues, drawing on a variety of social science field methods. I am most interested in thinking about how we sustainably manage our environment in ways that incorporates social justice concerns.

My main area of research has been on sustainable food systems and food security. I have extensive experience working in Eastern and Southern Africa on issues related to food security and urban agriculture, including thinking about exposure to environmental contamination and the role of urban agriculture as an adaptation to household stress related to climate change. In the U.S., my research has related to both food production practices—such as examining farmer motivations for cover cropping, and urban gardening during the COVID-19 pandemic—as well as food access and food insecurity, especially in urban areas and on college campuses.

Another avenue of my research examines environmental risk perception in a variety of settings. I have collaborated on projects related to farmer risk perception of environmental contamination, perceived risk related to natural hazards in the Republic of Dominica, drivers of spatial risk perception in the United States, and environmental risk perception and decision making in the Riviera Maya of Mexico.

A third avenue of my research has focused on gender-based discrimination in the sciences, examining how the current tools being used to encourage women's participation in STEM often promote individual responses to structural barriers.

Frequently Taught Classes

  • GEOG 101/102 - Introduction to Environmental Geography
  • GEOG 425/525 - Geography of Food and Agriculture
  • GEOG 453/553 - Environmental Management
  • WGSS 201- Global Gender Issues
  • WGSS/GEOG 324 - Women in Science
  • WGSS 435 - Gender and the Environment
  • WGSS 610 - Research in Women's and LGBTQ+ Studies

Selected Publications

Casas-Beltran, D., Febles-Moreno, K., Hernandez-Yac, E., Gallaher, C., Alvarado-Flores, J., Leal-Bautista, R., Lenczewski, M. (2021). Impact of tourist behavior on sunscreen contamination in marine and freshwater environments of the Mexican Caribbean. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management.

Eboh, H., Gallaher, C., Pingel, T., and Ashley, W. (2020). Risk perception in small island developing states: a case study in the Commonwealth of Dominica. Natural Hazards, 1-26.

James, A. C., Gallaher, C. M., and Krmenec, A. J. (2020). Individual Experience and Associated Perceptions: How Crime Victimization Influences the Construction of Safety. Papers in Applied Geography, 1-13.

Casas-Beltrán, D. A., Gallaher, C. M., Hernandez Yac, E., Febles Moreno, K., Voglesonger, K., Leal-Bautista, R. M., and Lenczewski, M. (2020). Seaweed Invasion! Temporal Changes in Beach Conditions Lead to Increasing Cenote Usage and Contamination in the Riviera Maya. Sustainability, 12(6), 2474.

Myers, K., Gallaher, C.M., and McCarragher, S. (2019). STEMinism. Journal of Gender Studies, 1-13.

Furness, W., Gallaher, C.M. (2018) Food Access, Food Security, and Community Gardens in Rockford, IL. Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, 23 (4) 414-430.

Gallaher, C. M. (2017) Regreening Kibera: How urban agriculture has changed the physical and social environment in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. In A.M.G.A. WinklerPrins (ed.) Global Urban Agriculture: Convergence of Theory and Practice between North and South, CABI International.

Gallaher, C. M., and WinklerPrins, A. M. (2015). Effective use of mixed methods in African livelihoods research. African Geographical Review, 35(1) 1-11.

Luo, W., Pelletier, J., Duffin, K., Ormand, C., Hung, W., Shernoff, D., Zhai, X., Iverson, E., Whalley, K., Gallaher, C., and Furness, W. Advantages of computer simulation in enhancing students' learning about landform evolution: A case study using the Grand Canyon. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. Accepted Nov. 12, 2015

Gallaher, C. M., M. Njenga, N.K. Karanja, A. M.G.A. WinklerPrins. 2015. Creating Space: Sack gardening as a livelihood strategy in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development, 5(2), 155-173

Gallaher, C.M., D. Mwaniki, M. Njenga, N. Karanja, A. WinklerPrins. 2013. Real or perceived: The Environmental Health Risks of Urban Sack Gardening in Kibera Slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Ecohealth 10 (1) 9-20.

Gallaher, C.M., J.M. Kerr, M. Njenga, N.K. Karanja, A.M.G.A. WinklerPrins. 2013. Urban agriculture, social capital, and food security in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Agriculture and Human Values, 30(3) 389-404.

Gallaher, C.M., S. Snapp. 2013. Organic management and legume presence maintained phosphorus bioavailability in a 17-year field crop experiment. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 30(3), 211-222

Courtney Gallaher, Ph.D.

Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences
Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality
Campus Sustainability Coordinator

Davis Hall 211


Ph.D., Michigan State University

Contact Us

Department of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment
Davis Hall, Room 312

815-753-0631 (undergraduate)
815-753-1943 (graduate)

815-753-1945 (fax)

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