Ivis Garcia, Ph.D., AICP

Associate Professor
Curriculum Vitae

Quick Information


Office Hours

Feel free to schedule a meeting:


  • Department of Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning
  • Hazard Reduction & Recovery Center
  • Center for Housing & Urban Development

Helpful Links


In 2015, Dr. Ivis García earned her Ph.D. in Urban Planning & Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In fall 2022, she assumed the role of Associate Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M University. Ivis became the Master’s Program Coordinator for the Planning program in the fall of 2023. Throughout her career, Dr. García has taught graduate and undergraduate classes in community engagement in planning, planning communication, and studio courses in cities such as Chicago, Puerto Rico, and Salt Lake City. Her research is focused on engagement, housing, and community development and she has been awarded more than $1 million in external research funding from the EPA, National Science Foundation, and the Natural Hazard Center. She has published over 60 peer-reviewed journal articles, five book chapters, and 40 technical reports, including the first American Planning Association PAS Report on diversity, “Planning with Diverse Communities.” Additionally, Dr. García has presented over 60 keynote or invited talks, including funded addresses at U. de Guadalajara, Columbia University, and Georgia Tech. Furthermore, Ivis has been recognized for her housing justice work in Puerto Rico with disaster victims with IRP’s Emerging Poverty Scholars and Ford Foundation Fellowships.


Ph.D., Urban Planning and Policy

2015 University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Master of Community and Regional Planning

2009 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Master of Arts, Latin American Studies

2009 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Associates of Applied Science, Environmental Safety & Health

2005 Central New Mexico Community College, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Bachelor of Science, Environmental Sciences

2003 Inter-American University, San Germán, Puerto Rico

Scholarly Interests

My scholarly agenda is driven to uncover the potential for Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD). In this vein I seek to answer two important questions: (1) How can underrepresented groups improve their conditions by exercising their own individual agency and, (2) how might they leverage local institutions to aid them in achieving their goals? With these objectives in mind, I see the various methods of ABCD as the most essential lens from which to demonstrate the techniques community leaders can use to organize within associations (e.g., coalitions, collectives, etc.) and through institutions (e.g., nonprofits, government agencies, etc.).

Utilizing Community-Based Research (CBR) as a core principle, methodology, and ethos, I craft research questions, design, implement, and act in partnership with stakeholders from grassroots and institutionalized organizations. With a heavy emphasis on qualitative scholarly research methodologies, I regularly conduct interviews, focus groups, Participatory Action Research (PAR), ethnography, and oral histories.

My research has demonstrated that Puerto Rican residents, associations, and institutions collectively work to mitigate displacement by mobilizing their (often limited) economic assets, along with a broad set of placemaking practices, and the employment of counter-storytelling techniques to make claims to space despite not being property owners. After hurricanes Irma and Maria, much of my CBR work has expanded to Puerto Rico, where I have ongoing collaborations related to the island’s recovery. I hope my work will result in new methods for community engagement in planning (within the ABCD orientation) and offer scholars a path to improve access and representation for stakeholders using the research and tools that I am developing with colleagues.

Projects + Creative Works

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  • Hurricane Maria and Participants’ Experiences in the Repair, Reconstruction, and Relocation Program (R3)

    This mixed-method study explored the experiences of over 150 individuals affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, with a focus on their decisions to apply for the Repair, Reconstruction, and Relocation Program (R3). Surveys and interviews were conducted February-April 2023 to assess the impact of Maria on the home, the factors influencing relocation, the application process, and experiences in the program. Demographic information such as gender, age, and income were also collected. The results of this study will provide valuable insight to help ensure a more equitable relocation process for those affected by natural disasters in the future.

  • This is a project with Iowa State University titled, “Building Resilience in Vulnerable Older Adult Communities Facing Increased Exposure Risks to Wastewater Contamination from Flooding in Puerto Rico.” The objective of this study is to gather data that will aid in building resilience in vulnerable populations against contamination risks posed by flooding. The underlying hypothesis is that even in vulnerable older adult communities exposed to natural disasters and resulting contamination, community-based risk reduction efforts can significantly decrease risk and increase the resilience of such populations especially when factors such as psychosocial vulnerabilities and the built environment are taken into consideration. Specifically, as researchers we are interested determining: 1) What secondary/modifying psychosocial variables affect the vulnerability of older adults to risk posed by contaminant exposure. 2) Learning how to build resilience in vulnerable communities with older adults.

  • This image of from a project funded by the National Science Foundation titled, “Collaborative Proposal: Stakeholder Interdependencies in Post-Disaster Relocation Under High Uncertainty.” The project’s overall goal is to advance our scientific knowledge of the factors that affect community relocation decisions of households and businesses in highly uncertain and emergent institutional environments. Its specific aims are to investigate the following in such environments: (i) resources households and businesses use to make relocation decisions; (ii) the inter-dependencies between household and business relocation decisions; and, (iii) the dependence of household and business relocation decisions upon the actions of nonprofits or volunteer groups. Using the Institutional Analysis & Development (IAD) Framework, this is a three-year long study in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory that has many underserved communities with informal practices (e.g., self-built or informal housing) dealing with uncertain and constantly changing formal institutions (i.e., rules and policies such as the Repair, Reconstruction, or Relocation, R3 program). Our study involves an embedded, multi-case study, and mixed-method research design in the cities of Comerío and Loíza in Puerto Rico and their neighborhoods designated for relocation after Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. The proposed project will be undertaken by the University of Utah (U of U), Florida International University (FIU), a Hispanic Serving Institution and now Texas A&M, since I moved from the U of U. The project team is comprised of experienced disaster researchers with specific expertise in holistic disaster recovery and relocation (Chandrasekhar, Ganapati, Olshansky) and community engaged-research (Garcia, Padilla, Ganapati) in the U.S. and abroad. Team members also have active and on-going research, teaching and service projects in Puerto Rico dealing with recovery planning (Garcia, Chandrasekhar, Olshansky) and health care system resilience (Padilla) which will greatly contribute to the feasibility and success of the proposed research work.

Research + News

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  • Maui wildfires: Extra logistical challenges hinder government’s initial response when disasters strike islands

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  • Why is Puerto Rico so vulnerable to blackouts?

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  • More than 60% of Puerto Ricans seeking FEMA aid after Hurricane Maria had their applications denied – will the agency approve more this time?

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  • Research Explores Reasons for FEMA Application Denials in Puerto Rico

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Staff Publications

  • 2024 García, Ivis, Carlos Santos-Rivera*, Minerva Jimenez-Garcia*, and Claudia Loayza*. 2024. "Engaging Spanish-Speaking Latinos with Urban Parks in Salt Lake City" World 5, no. 3: 483-505. https://doi.org/10.3390/world5030025
  • 2024 García, I. 2024. “The Value of Reentry Housing, Zoning, and ‘Not in My Back Yard’ (NIMBY) Obstacles, and How to Overcome Them.” Land 13 (3): 275. https://doi.org/10.3390/land13030275.
  • 2024 García, I. 2024. “Understanding the Housing Preferences of Older Adults: Insights from a Study on Micro-Housing in Salt Lake City, U.S.” Land 13 (2): 171. https://doi.org/10.3390/land13020171.
  • 2023 Ballesteros, L. M., C. Poleacovschi, I. García, C. F. Weems, K. Ikuma, and C. Robert Rehmann. 2023. “The Role of Housing and Community Infrastructure in Successful Aging in Disaster Vulnerable Areas.” SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4617981.
  • 2023 Nelson, T., Poleacovschi, C., Ikuma K., García, I., Weems, C. F., Rehmann, C. R. and K. Estes. 2023. “Knowledge–Behavior Gap in Tap Water Consumption in Puerto Rico: Implications for Water Utilities.” ASCE OPEN: Multidisciplinary Journal of Civil Engineering 1 (January): 04023001. https://doi.org/10.1061/AOMJAH.AOENG-0005.
  • 2023 Jackson, A., A. Yerena, C. A. Lee, I. García, B. Chrisinger, L. Harjo, and S. Harwood. 2023. “Anti-Racist Futures: Disrupting Racist Planning Practices in Workplaces, Institutions, and Communities.” Journal of the American Planning Association 89 (4): 411–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/01944363.2023.2244850.
  • 2023 Wei, Y. D., Y. Wu, W. Xiao, I. García, and M. Wen. 2023. “Urban Form, Air Pollution, and Walking Behavior: A Study of Salt Lake County, Utah.” Journal of Transport & Health 33 (November): 101686. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jth.2023.101686.
  • 2023 Wu, Y., Wei, Y. D., Liu, M., &; García, I. (2023). Green infrastructure inequality in the context of COVID-19: Taking parks and trails as examples. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 128027. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2023.128027
  • 2023 Greer, V. C., Hong, A., Canham, S. L., Agutter, J., Garcia, I., Van Natter, J. M.; Caylor, N. 2023. From Sheltered in Place to Thriving in Place: Pandemic Places of Aging. The Gerontologist. https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnad087
  • 2023 Rehn, K., Canham, S.L., Rose, J., Jones, S., & García, I. 2023. Visits to social and community establishments and services by persons experiencing homelessness after shelter decentralization. Journal of Social Distress and Homelessness. https://doi.org/10.1080/10530789.2023.2229990.
  • 2023 Canham, Sarah L., Morrison Donovan, Jeff Rose, Shannon Jones, and Ivis Garcia. 2023. “Transportation Needs and Mobility Patterns of Persons Experiencing Homelessness Following Shelter Decentralization.” Evaluation and Program Planning 99 (August): 102306. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2023.102306.
  • 2023 García, I., and N. Hernandez. 2023. “‘They’re Just Trying to Survive’: The Relationship between Social Vulnerability, Informal Housing, and Environmental Risks in Loíza, Puerto Rico, USA.” World Development Sustainability 2 (June): 100062. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wds.2023.100062.
  • 2023 Greer, V., Canham, S. L., Hong, A., Agutter, J., García, I., & Van Natter, J. M. 2023. Aging in Place Through the COVID-19 Pandemic: Perspectives from Aging Service Providers. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/07334648231159375
  • 2023 Park, K., Garcia, I., & Kim, K. 2023. Who visited parks and trails more or less during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how? A mixed-methods study, Landscape Research Record 11, pp.157-171.
  • 2023 García, I., Miller, S., Holmes, T. 2023. “Rural Communities Challenges and ResilientSEE: Case Studies from Disasters in Florida, Puerto Rico, and North Carolina.” Social Sciences & Humanities. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2590291123000177
  • 2023 Ballesteros, L. M., C. Poleacovschi, C. F. Weems, I. García, and J. Talbot. 2023. “Evaluating the Interaction Effects of Housing Vulnerability and Socioeconomic Vulnerability on Self-Perceptions of Psychological Resilience in Puerto Rico.” International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 84 (January): 103476. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2022.103476.
  • 2022 García, I., M. Albelson, N. Puczkowskyj*, S. Maheruma Khan*, and K. Fagundo-Ojeda*. 2022. “Harassment of Low-Income Women on Transit: A Photovoice Project in Oregon and Utah.” Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment 112 (November): 103466. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trd.2022.103466.
  • 2022 García, I., D. Chandrasekhar, N. E. Ganapati, K. Fagundo Ojeda*, J. E. Velázquez Diaz*, and K. Williams*. 2022. “Health-Related Nonprofit Response to Concurrent Disaster Events.” International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 82 (November): 103279. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2022.103279.
  • 2022 Canham, S. L., J. Rose, S. Jones, A. Clay*, and I. García. 2022. “Community Perspectives on How Decentralizing an Emergency Shelter Influences Transportation Needs and Use for Persons Experiencing Homelessness.” Health & Social Care in the Community n/a (n/a). https://doi.org/10.1111/hsc.13994.
  • 2021 García, I. 2021. “Puerto Rico’s Outmigration and the Deterioration of Economic Conditions as Identified with National Debt.” CENTRO Journal 33 (2): 1-36. https://centropr-archive.hunter.cuny.edu/publications/journal-2021.
  • 2021 Chandrasekhar, D., I. García, and S. Khajehei. 2022. “Recovery Capacity of Small Nonprofits in Post-2017 Hurricane Puerto Rico.” Journal of the American Planning Association 88 (2): 206–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/01944363.2021.1938637.
  • 2021 Wei, Y. D., Weiye X*., and I. García. 2021. “Neighborhood Environment, Active Commute, and Healthy BMI in Adolescents” Sustainability 13 (15): 8286. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158286
  • 2021 García, I. 2022. “Deemed Ineligible: Reasons Homeowners in Puerto Rico Were Denied Aid After Hurricane María.” Housing Policy Debate 32 (1): 14–34. https://doi.org/10.1080/10511482.2021.1890633.
  • 2021 García, I., and A. Jackson. 2021. “Enhancing the Role of Government, Non-Profits, Universities, and Resident Associations as Valuable Community Resources to Advance Equity, Access, Diversity, and Inclusion.” Societies 11 (2): 33. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc11020033.
  • 2021 García, I. 2021. “Advocating for Latino Equity: Oral Histories of Chicago Women Leaders.” Journal of Race, Ethnicity and the City 2 (1): 54–77. https://doi.org/10.1080/26884674.2021.1881416
  • 2021 García, I., A. Jackson, A. J. Greenlee, A. Yerena, B. Chrisinger, and C. A. Lee. 2021. “Feeling Like an ‘Odd Duck’: The Experiences of African American/Black and Hispanic/Latin/o/a/x Planning Practitioners.” Journal of the American Planning Association 87 (3): 326–40. https://doi.org/10.1080/01944363.2020.1858936.
  • 2021 García, I. 2021. “Leadership Training as an Alternative to Neoliberalism: A Model for Community Development.” Community Development 52 (4): 440–58. https://doi.org/10.1080/15575330.2021.1881135.
  • 2021 Kim, K.*, I. García, and S. Brewer. 2021 “Spatial Relationship Between Eviction Filings, Neighborhood Characteristics, and Proximity to the Central Business District: A Case Study of Salt Lake County, Utah.” Housing Policy Debate 31 (3–5): 601–26. https://doi.org/10.1080/10511482.2020.1838598.
  • 2021 García, I., and K. Kim.* 2021. “‘Many of Us Have Been Previously Evicted’: Exploring the Relationship Between Homelessness and Evictions Among Families Participating in the Rapid Rehousing Program in Salt Lake County, Utah.” Housing Policy Debate 31 (3–5): 582–600. https://doi.org/10.1080/10511482.2020.1828988.
  • 2021 García, I., A. Jackson, S. Harwood, A. Greenlee, A. Lee, and B. Chrisinger. 2021. “‘Like a Fish Out of Water’: The Experience of African Americans and Latinx in U.S. Planning Programs.” Journal of the American Planning Association 87 (1): 108–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/01944363.2020.1777184.
  • 2020 García, I., and D. Chandrasekhar. 2020. “Impact of Hurricane Maria to the Civic Sector: A Profile of Non-Profits in Puerto Rico.” CENTRO Journal 32 (3): 67–88.
  • 2020 García, I., and Z. Sönmez. 2020. “An Asset-Based Perspective of the Economic Contributions of Latinx Communities: An Illinois Case Study.” Societies 10 (3): 59. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc10030059.
  • 2020 García, I., and K. Kim. * 2020. “‘I Felt Safe’: The Role of the Rapid Rehousing Program in Supporting the Security of Families Experiencing Homelessness in Salt Lake County, Utah.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17 (13): 4840. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17134840.
  • 2020 García, I. 2020. “Cultural Insights for Planners: Understanding the Terms Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx.” Journal of the American Planning Association 86 (4): 393-402. https://doi.org/10.1080/01944363.2020.1758191.
  • 2020 García, I. 2020. “Repurposing a Historic School Building as a Teacher’s Village: Exploring the Connection between School Closures, Housing Affordability, and Community Goals in a Gentrifying Neighborhood.” Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability 13 (2): 153–169 https://doi.org/10.1080/17549175.2019.1626265.
  • 2020 Lee, C. A., B. Chrisinger, A. J. Greenlee, I. García Zambrana, and A. Jackson. 2020. “Beyond Recruitment: Comparing Experiences of Climate and Diversity between International Students and Domestic Students of Color in U.S. Urban Planning Programs.” Journal of Planning Education and Research March: 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1177/0739456X20902241.
  • 2020 García, I. 2020. “No Se Vende (Not for Sale): An Anti-Gentrification Grassroots Campaign of Puerto Ricans in Chicago.” América Crítica 3 (2): 35-61. http://ojs.unica.it/index.php/cisap/issue/view/130.
  • 2019 Kim, K.*, and I. García. 2019. “Why Do Homeless Families Exit and Return the Homeless Shelter? Factors Affecting the Risk of Family Homelessness in Salt Lake County (Utah, United States) as a Case Study.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 16 (22): 4328-4351. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224328.
  • 2019 DeLaTorre, A., García, I. Reno J.*, Kim, J.Y*. and K. Diaz Moore. 2019. “Life Space Mobility and Neighborhoods: How Home Modifications Impact Aging in Place. Innovation in Aging, 3 (1): 249, https://doi.org/10.1093/geroni/igz038.935.
  • 2019 García, I. 2019. “Human Ecology and its Influence in Urban Theory and Housing Policy in the United States.” Special Issue Innovations in Affordable Housing at the Nexus of the Market and the State. Urban Science 3 (2): 56-68. https://doi.org/10.3390/urbansci3020056.
  • 2019 García, I. and Crookston, J.* 2019. “Connectivity and Usership of Two Types of Multi-Modal Transportation Networks: A Regional Trail and a Transit Oriented Commercial Corridor.” Urban Science 3 (34): 1-12. doi:10.3390/urbansci3010034.
  • 2019 García, I. 2019. “The Two-Income Debt Trap: Personal Responsibility and the Financialization of Everyday Life.” Special Issue Neoliberalism and Social Reproduction. Polygraph: An International Journal of Culture and Politics 13 (27): 31-49. https://polygraphjournal.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/polygraph-27_García.pdf.
  • 2019 García, I. 2019. “Historically Illustrating the Shift to Neoliberalism in the U.S. Home Mortgage Market.” Societies 9 (1): 6. https://doi:10.3390/soc9010006.
  • 2018 Greenlee, A., Jackson, A., García, I., Chrisinger, B., and Lee, A. 2018. “Where Are We Going? Where Have We Been?: The Climate for Diversity within Urban Planning Educational Programs.” Journal of Planning Education and Research 42 (3): 331–49. https://doi.org/10.1177/0739456X18815740.
  • 2018 Jackson, A., I. García-Zambrana, Andrew J. Greenlee, C. A. Lee, and B. Chrisinger. 2018. “All Talk No Walk: Student Perceptions on Integration of Diversity and Practice in Planning Programs.” Planning Practice & Research 33 (5): 574–95. https://doi.org/10.1080/02697459.2018.1548207.
  • 2018 García, I. 2018. “Symbolism, Collective Identity, and Community Development.” Societies 8 (3): 81-94. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030081.
  • 2018 García, I. 2018. “Inspiring Leadership and Social Innovation Through Cultural Humility: Overcoming Critical Theory, Positivism, and Postmodernism in Planning Education.” eJournal of Public Affairs 7 (2): 19-35
  • 2018 Jackson, A., Parker, M., Turner DeVera, L., García, I., Holmes, T., Shiau, E., and C. Medina. 2018. “Moving the Needle: Early Findings on Faculty Approaches to Integrate Culturally Competent Pedagogy into Educational Spaces.” eJournal of Public Affairs 7 (2): 119-145. http://www.ejournalofpublicaffairs.org/moving-the-needle/.
  • 2018 García, I. 2018. “Community Participation As A Tool For Conservation Planning And Historic Preservation: The Case Of ‘Community As A Campus’ (CAAC)” Journal of Housing and the Built Environment 33 (3): 519-537. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10901-018-9615-4.
  • 2018 García, I., and S. Ara. 2018.* “Active Transportation and Perceptions of Safety: A Case Study of a Regional Trail and a Transit Corridor in Salt Lake City, Utah.” Focus: The Journal of Planning Practice & Education 14 (1): 37-43. http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/focus/vol14/iss1/14/
  • 2018 García, I. 2018. “Building a Self-Determination Gateway.” Special Issue Hybrid Realities. Informa: University of Puerto Rico Architectural Journal. 1(11): 42-43.
  • 2017 García, I. 2017. “Learning about Neighborhood Identity, Streets as Places, and Community Engagement in a Chicago Studio Course.” Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy 27 (2): 142-157. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/trajincschped.27.2.0142.
  • 2017 García, I. 2017. “Paseo Boricua. Identity, Symbols, and Ownership.” América Crítica 1 (2): 117-138. https://doi.org/10.13125/américacrítica/3014.
  • 2017 Toro-Morn, M., and I. García. 2017. “Gendered Fault Lines: A Demographic Profile of Puerto Rican Women in the United States.” CENTRO Journal 29 (2): 1-37. https://centropr.hunter.cuny.edu/publications/journal-2017.
  • 2017 García, I., and M. Rúa. 2017. “Our Interests Matter’: Puerto Rican Older Adults in the Age of Gentrification.” Urban Studies 55 (14): 3168-3184. https://doi.org/10.1177/004209801773625.
  • 2023 Infield, E, Shi, L., García, I., Minner, J., Whittington, J., Goh K., Hsu, D., Agyeman J., Boswell, M., and B. Stone. 2023. “Planning for Climate Leadership.” Journal of Planning Education and Research. https://doi.org/10.1177/0739456X231199093.
  • 2017 García, I. 2017. “Community Engagement in an Urban Daylighting Project: A Case Study of a Salt Lake City Creek.” Journal of Urban Planning, Landscape & Environmental Design 2 (3): 53-63. https://doaj.org/article/60d1c433dd9b415083f67c9f58a582e8.
  • 2016 Toro-Morn, M., I. García Zambrana, and M. Alicea. 2016. “Introduction, De Bandera a Bandera (From Flag to Flag) New Scholarship about the Puerto Rican Diaspora in Chicago.” CENTRO Journal 28 (2): 4-35. https://centropr.hunter.cuny.edu/publications/journal-2016.
  • 2015 García, I. 2015. “The Puerto Rican Business District as a Community Strategy for Resistance Gentrification in Chicago.” PLERUS 25 (1): 79-98. https://revistas.upr.edu/index.php/plerus.