Betsy Breyer

Betsy Breyer

Visiting Assistant Professor

  (979) 845-7141

  Eller O&M 706D


As an urban geographer, I am fascinated by human-environment interactions in cities. My work combines critical social theory and geospatial techniques to understand the intertwined social and biophysical processes that make up urban systems. Currently, I am advancing several projects that investigate urban greenspace as a focal point to engage questions of environmental governance, sustainability, and social equity. In one project, I am drawing land change science and urban political ecology into conversation to examine processes of land clearance and reuse following economic crisis. This project integrates remote sensing, spatial statistical analysis, interviews, and participant observation to understand how foreclosures linked to the Great Recession have driven an expansion of land vacancy in the American Rust Belt and to assess projects that repurpose vacant land to provide community ecological assets. In addition, I have an ongoing collaborative research agenda around domestic water use and private greenspace management as an interdisciplinary problem of drought vulnerability and urban climate change adaptation in the American West. My work has received support from the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center and the Social Science Research Council.

Selected Publications

Breyer, B., J. Qiu, and S. Zipper. 2018. Sociohydrological impacts of water conservation under anthropogenic drought in Austin, Texas (USA). Water Resources Research 54 (4): 3062-3080. 

Zipper, S. C., K. Helm Smith, B. Breyer, J. Qiu, A. Kung, D. Hermann. 2017. Socio-environmental drought response in a mixed urban-agricultural watershed: Biophysical resilience and implications for governance. Ecology and Society 22 (4): 39.

Breyer, B. 2015. Food Mirages. In Portlandness: A Cultural Atlas. D. Banis and H. Shobe, eds. Seattle, WA: Sasquatch Books.

Breyer, B. and H. Chang. 2014. Urban water consumption and weather variation in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area. Urban Climate 9: 1-18.

Breyer, B. and A. Voss-Andreae. 2013. Food mirages: Geographic and economic barriers to healthful food access in Portland, Oregon. Health & Place 24: 131-139.

Breyer, B., H. Chang, and G. H. Parandvash. 2012. Land use, temperature, and single-family residential water use patterns in Portland, Oregon and Phoenix, Arizona. Applied Geography 35 (1-2): 142-151.


Ph.D. Geography, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

M.S. Geography, Portland State University

B.A. Economics, Reed College

Update My Profile