I use digital tools, such as maps and 3D models, to reconstruct historical built environments and investigate their social and environmental impacts. My work takes a holistic approach that incorporates disciplines such as archaeology, architecture, and history. I am particularly interested in urban identity and the formation of frontier communities.
I received my M.Arch. and Ph.D. in Architecture from UCLA. Currently, I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Humanities Research Center at Rice University in Houston, Texas, as part of the Mellon Spatial Humanities initiative.
I am currently investigating the Villas del Norte, five towns that were established along the Rio Grande by Jose de Escandón as part of the founding of the province of Nuevo Santander in the mid-18th century. My current project is to amass geographic, biographic, archaeological, and architectural data for Northern Mexico and South Texas, and to start piece together a picture of a society and its built environment as it established itself on the frontier, consolidated its identity through shared activity, religion, and family ties; and adapted as change and revolution engulfed it from both north and south.
My teaching incorporates project-based learning and digital media with critical historical inquiry. At UNC- Chapel Hill I taught courses on Digital Humanities, including a graduate seminar called "Introduction to Digital Humanities" in which students learned tools to develop their own research. I also taught a lecture-lab course entitled "Mapping and Modeling Historical Environments" that contributed a 3D map to a public history exhibit. At Rice University, I taught a humanities studio on underground space that culminated in a multimedia installation involving video, sound, photogrammetry, and interactive media. I have also taught various technical bootcamps on GIS and 3D modeling.
My dissertation research focused on the city of Magnesia on the Maeander, a Greco-Roman city in present-day Turkey. Using ancient texts and inscriptions, archaeological fieldwork, and digital reconstruction, I examined the evolution of the city over time in relation to its geographical setting and religious identity. The goal of being able to synthesize different sources in a holistic representational strategy functioning as a ‘lab’ for spatial research led me to compile a library of procedural rules for Greco-Roman architecture types called the Roman City Ruleset. The ruleset facilitates the modeling of Greco-Roman cities by codifying typical architectural types, such as temples, basilicas, stadiums, and houses. The rules are adaptable to data from individual sites and have been used to reconstruct disparate cities, such as Rome, Magnesia, Nysa, Vulci, and Rhodes.