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Dr. Cynthia S. Simmons


Dr. Cynthia Simmons

Associate Professor

Affiliate Faculty, Center for Latin American Studies (LATAM)

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(352) 294-7511

Focus Areas

Research Statement

The conceptual lens for my research is derived primarily from a political economy approach. In particular, I focus attention on the manner in which social processes interact across a multiplicity of scales (i.e, individual, local, regional, national, global), and the impact these interactions have on local environments and social conditions. The theoretical underpinning of my work emphasizes the local, and considers the importance of Place as essential to understanding social and environmental problems. In an effort to examine the place-specific nature of these problems, the research strategy I employ combines both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, utilizing data and insight gained from field investigation involving household surveys and key informant interviews.


Recent Courses

  • Human Environment Seminar – Graduate Level
  • Human Geography Seminar – Graduate Level
  • Advanced Readings in Human Geography – Space, Place, and Power – Graduate Level
  • Gender Justice and Environmental Change – Theory Seminar – Graduate Level
  • Geography of Development and Environment – Graduate and Undergraduate
  • Cultural Geography -Undergraduate
  • People and Environment Geography – Undergraduate
  • World Regional Geography – Undergraduate
  • Latin American Geography – Undergraduate

Recent Funded Projects

  • 2016-2019

International Trade Agreements, Globalization, Land Change, and Agricultural Food Networks.” Simmons, Co-PI. $375,000. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation

  • 2012-2015

Collaborative Research: Contentious Land Change in the Eastern Amazon. Simmons, C. S., Aldrich, S., Arima, E., Walker, R. T. National Science Foundation, Geography and Spatial Sciences Program. $157,529

  • 2010-2014

Globalization: Socio-economic, Political, and Environmental Interdependence. Simmons, C. S. (Project Leader, Lead Principal Investigator). Co-PIs: Aldrich, S. (Indiana State University), Schneider, H. (Federal University of Pará – UFPA), Almeida, G. (Federal University of Bahia – UFBA). US-Brazil Higher Education Consortia Program, jointly administered by U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), Brazilian Ministry of Education. $493,000

  • 2013-2017

Tenure and Global Climate Change. Simmons, C. S. (Co-Principal Investigator). Co-PIs: Qi, J., McKeown, C., Kerr, J., Lu, D., Messina, J., Moran, E., Zulu, L., Maxwell, S., Schultink, G., Kassens Noor, E., Nejadhashemi, A. TETRA TECH INC/USAID. $821,435

  • 2010-2011

The Transamazon at 40: A Generation Comes of Age. Simmons, C. S. (Co-Principal Investigator). Walker, R.T. National Science Foundation. $7,000

  • 2005-2008

Collaborative Research: Brazil’s Direct Action Land Reform: Spatial Strategies and Environmental Effects. Simmons, C. S. (Project Leader, Lead Principal Investigator). Co-PIs: Walker, R. T., Qi, J., Perz, S. G. National Science Foundation. $250,000

  • 2000-2001

Historical Landcover Dynamics for the Chicago Study Region: A Geographic Information System. Simmons, C. S. (Principal Investigator). National Academy of Sciences. $7,850

  • 1995-1997

Small Producer Forestry: A Comparative Study of Panama and Brazil. Simmons, C. S. (Co-Principal Investigator). Co-PIs: Walker, R. T. United States Forest Service. $24,989


Recent Publications

Marta A., Q. Orozco-Ramírez, R. Walker, Y. Galván-Miyoshi, C. González-Esquivel, and C. S. Simmons. 2020. Post-NAFTA Changes in Peasant Land Use: The Case of the Pátzcuaro Lake Watershed Region in the Central-West México. Land. In Press.

Walker, R. T., A. A. Carrara, C. S. Simmons, and M. I. Irigaray. Indigenous people may be the Amazon’s last hope. The Conversation.

Aldrich SP, Simmons CS, Arima E, Walker RT, Michelotti F, Castro E. 2020. Agronomic or contentious land change? A longitudinal analysis from the Eastern Brazilian Amazon. PLoS ONE 15(1): e0227378.

Walker, R. T., C. Simmons, E. Arima, Y. Galvan-Miyoshi, A. Antunes, M. Waylen, and M. Irigaray. 2019. Avoiding Amazonian Catastrophes: Prospects for Conservation in the 21st Century. One Earth 1 (2):202–215.

C.S. Simmons, R. Walker, S. Aldrich, E. Arima, E. Castro, F. Michelotti, M. Waylen, A. Antunes. 2019. Discipline and Develop: Destruction of the Brazil Nut Forest in the Lower Amazon Basin. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 109, 242–265. 23 pages.

C. S. Simmons, L. Famolare, M. Maceido, R, T. Walker, M. Coe, E. Arima, D. Valle, R. Munoz Carpena, B. Scheffers, C. Fraisee, D. Juhn, M. Diniz, M. Diniz, C. Szlafsztein, C. Ruiz, R Pereira, G. Rocha, O. Canto, M. Waylen, A. Antunes. 2018. Science in Support of Amazonian Conservation In The 21st Century. Biotropica. 50, 850–858. 8 pages.

Walker, R. T., and C. S. Simmons. 2018. “Endangered Amazon: An Indigenous Tribe Fights Back Against Hydropower Development in the Tapajós Valley.” Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 60 (2): 4–15.

Pereira, R., C. S. Simmons, and R.T. Walker. 2017. Smallholders, Agrarian Reform, and Globalization in the Brazilian Amazon: Cattle versus the Environment Smallholders, Agrarian Reform, and Globalization in the Brazilian Amazon: Cattle versus the Environment. In Section 2, Changing Land Use, Changing Livelihoods, Eds. Claudia A. Radel and Jacqueline M. MDPI Books: Basel, Switzerland.

Pereira, R., C. S. Simmons, and R.T. Walker. 2016. Smallholders, Agrarian Reform, and Globalization in the Brazilian Amazon: Cattle versus the Environment. Land, 5(3), 24. doi:10.3390/land5030024.

Simmons, C. S., Walker, R., Messina, J., Arima, E., and S. Perz. 2016. Spatial Patterns of Frontier Settlement: Balancing Conservation and Development. Journal of Latin American Geography, 15(1), 33-58.

Liu, J., Hull, V., Batistella, M., DeFries, R., Dietz, T., Fu, F., Hertel, T., Izaurralde, R.C., Lambin, E.F., Li, S., Martinelli, L. A., McConnell, W., Moran, E., Naylor, R., Ouyang, Z., Polenske, K., Reenberg, A., Rocha, G.M., Simmons, C. S., Verburg, P., Vitousek, P., Zhang, F. and C. Zhu. 2013. Framing Sustainability in a Telecoupled World. Acta Ecologica Sinica 36(23).

Aldrich, S., Walker, R., Simmons, C. S., Caldas, M., and S. Perz. 2012. Contentious Land Change in Amazônia’s Arc of Deforestation. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 102(1): 103-128.

Pereira, R. and C. S. Simmons. 2012. Determinants of Cattle Expansion in Agrarian Reform Areas in the Brazilian Amazon: A Case Study of the South of Para. Latin American and Caribbean Environmental Economics Program, Working Paper Series. WP 44 (November 2012): 1-35.

Walker, R., Simmons, C. S., Aldrich, S, Perz, S. and E. Arima. 2011. The Amazonian Theater of Cruelty. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 101(5): 1156-1170..

Walker, R., Perz, S., Arima. E., and Simmons, C. S. 2011. The Transamazon Highway: Past, Present, and Future, pp. 569-600 in Engineering Earth: The Impacts of Megaengineering Projects. S. Brunn (ed.). The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Leite, F., Caldas, M. M., Simmons, C. S., Perz, S. G., Aldrich, S. P. and R. T. Walker. 2011. The Social Viability and Environmental Sustainability of Direct Action Land Reform Settlements in the Amazon. Environment, Development, and Sustainability 13(4): 773-788.

Perz, S. G., Simmons, C. S., Walker, R. T., Caldas, M. M., Leite, F. and S. Aldrich. 2010. Intraregional Migration, Direct Action Land Reform, and New Land Settlements in the Brazilian Amazon. Bulletin of Latin American Research 29(4): 459-476.

Caldas, M. M., Simmons, C. S., Walker, R. T., Perz, S. G., Aldrich, S., Pereira, R., Leite, F. and E. Arima. 2010. Settlement Formation and Land Cover and Land Use Change: A Case Study in the Brazilian Amazon. Journal of Latin American Geography 9(1): 125-144.

Simmons, C. S., Walker, R., Perz, S., Aldrich, S., Caldas, M., Pereira, R., Fernandes, C., and E. Arima. 2010. Doing it for themselves: Direct Action Land Reform in the Brazilian Amazon, World Development 38(3): 429-444.

Simmons, C. S., Walker, R., Arima, E. Y., Aldrich, S. P., and Caldas, M. 2008. A Guerra Amazônica pela Terra no Sul do Pará. In Sociedade, Território e Conflitos: BR-163 em Questão. E. Castro, ed., pp. 85 – 146. Belém, PA: NAEA, UFPA.

Walker, R., Moore, N., Arima, E., Perz, S., Simmons, C. S., Caldas, M., Vergara, D., and C. Bohrer. 2009. Protecting Amazônia with Protected Areas, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(26): 10582–10586.

Walker, R. T., Browder, J.O., Arima, E., Simmons, C. S., Pereira, R., Caldas, M., Shirota, R., and S. Zen. 2009. Ranching and the new global range: Amazônia in the 21st century. Geoforum 40: 732-745.

Simmons, C. S., Walker, R.T., Arima, E. Y., Aldrich, S., and M. M. Caldas. 2007. The Amazon Land War in the South of Pará. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 97(3): 567-592.

Arima, E., Simmons, C. S., Walker, R.T., and M. Cochrane. 2007. Fire in the Brazilian Amazon: simulating the impact of road paving, cattle exports, and conservation units’ implementation. Journal of Regional Science 47(3): 541-567.

Caldas, M. M, Walker, R.T., Arima, E., Perz, S., Aldrich, S., Simmons, C. S., and C. Wood. 2007. Theorizing Land Use and Land Cover Change: The Peasant Economy of Amazonian Deforestation. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 97(1): 86-110.

Simmons, C. S., Caldas, M., Aldrich, S., Walker, R. T., and S. Perz. 2007. Spatial Processes in Scalar Context: Development and Security in the Brazilian Amazon. Journal of Latin American Geography 6 (1): 125-148.

Machemer, P. L., Simmons, C. S., and R. T. Walker. 2006. Refining Landscape Change Models Through Outlier Analysis in the Muskegon Watershed of Michigan. Landscape Research 31(3): 277-294.

Simmons, C. S. 2005. Territorializing Land Conflict: Space, Place, and Contentious Politics in the Brazilian Amazon. Geojournal 64: 307-317.

Simmons, C. S., Walker, R.T., and Wood, C., Arima, E., and M. Cochrane. 2004. Wildfires in Amazonia: A Pilot Study Examining the Role of Farming Systems, Social Capital, and Fire Contagion. Journal of Latin American Geography 3(1): 81-96.

Simmons, C. S. 2004. The Political Economy of Land Conflict in the Eastern Brazilian Amazon. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 94(1): 183-206.

Simmons, C. S., Perz, S., Pedlowski, M. A., and L. G. T. Silva. 2002. The Changing Dynamics of Land Conflict in the Brazilian Amazon: the Rural-Urban Complex and its Environmental Implications. Urban Ecosystems 6: 99-122.

Simmons, C. S., Walker, R. T., and C. Wood. 2002. Tree Planting by Small Producers in the Tropics: A Comparative Study of Brazil and Panama. AgroForestry Systems 56: 89-105.

Simmons, C. S. 2002. The Local Articulation of Land Use Conflict: Economic Development, Environment, and Amerindian Rights. Professional Geographer 54(2): 241-258.

Simmons, C. S., Sorrensen, C. L., and R. T. Walker. 2002. Urban Rural Linkages and Environmental Change: Addressing the Human Dynamics of Urban Ecologies. Urban Ecosystems 6: 5-8.

Mills, E. S. and Simmons, C. S. 2001. Evolution of the Chicago Landscape: Population Dynamics, Economic Development, and Land Use Change. In Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States, Chapter 2, pp. 275-299. Washington, DC: National Research Council.

Simmons, C. S. 1997. Forest Management Practices in the Bayano Region of Panama: Cultural Variations. World Development 25(6): 989-1000.

Educational Background

  • PhD in Geography, Florida State University, 1999
  • M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning, Florida State University, 1995
  • M.A. in International Affairs, Latin American Studies, Florida State University, 1993
  • B.A. in Communications, Pre-Law, and Latin American Studies, Florida State University, 1990

Current Graduate Students


Recent Graduate Students

  • Audrey Joslin (M.S., 2008, MSU)