Carnegie Mellon University

Professor, School of Geographical Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ


Emily Talen’s research focuses on exploring the spatial patterns of American cities. Most often this work incorporates GIS as a tool of exploration, for example in the investigation of accessibility, spatial equity, sprawl and ideal urban form. Dr. Talen does not take a detached, technicist view of urban form, for she believes that planners should be active advocates for a saner urban development pattern. She promotes an urban spatial pattern that overcomes automobile dependence, increases accessibility, promotes diversity, and discourages suburban sprawl.

There is a sociological component to her investigation. Part of an assessment of ideal urban form involves understanding what those forms mean for social interactivity - for example, do certain city patterns create a “sense of community”? Another social component involves resident perception of the meaning of places. In this area of research Dr. Talen uses GIS to build resident-generated cognitive maps of neighborhoods, to be used as a “perceptual drawing tool” to capture resident perceptions of neighborhoods.

Dr. Talen received a PhD in Geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Prior to that, she worked for six years as a professional planner in Santa Barbara and Columbus, Ohio. Before moving to the ASU, she was Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the Univerity of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.