Dr. Melissa Checker (PhD NYU, 2002) is a member of the Urban Studies Department at Queens College. Her research focuses on environmental justice, urban sustainability in the United States, the social justice implications of the green economy and social movements. Her most recent book, Polluted Promises: Environmental Racism and the Search for Justice in a Southern Town (NYU Press, 2005) won the 2007 Association for Humanistic Sociology Book Award and was a finalist for the Julian Steward Award and the Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharff Memorial Book Prize. She also co-edited (with Maggie Fishman) Local Actions: Cultural Activism, Power and Public Life (Columbia U Press, 2004), and has authored a number of academic articles and book chapters as well as articles for popular magazines and newspapers. Her current focus is on environmental justice activism in an era of dual ecological and economic crisis. She is conducting ethnographic research on extended struggles and strategies for environmental justice in the U.S. South, and on the relationship between environmental justice activism and sustainable policies and practices in New York City. She is also co-editor (along with Alaka Wali and David Vine) of the "Public Anthropology Reviews" section of American Anthropologist.
Checker teaches the Department's introductory course, Urban Poverty and Affluence, as well as courses on Urban Environments and Environmentalism, Contemporary Urban Theory, and Fieldwork in Urban Studies. She is the co-coordinator of the Urban Studies Internship Program and the Faculty Adviser to the Urban Studies Club.