Jacob Robert Wolff is a second year master’s student with the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of New Mexico where he teaches physical geography labs and studies urban theory. Prior to UNM, Wolff was at the University of Pittsburgh and worked for three years as a Conduct Administrator and Residence Life professional. He also graduated magna cum laude and Robert J. Hunter Scholar of Social Science and Public Service from the university.
Wolff completed majors in geography and history while conducting several research projects in both disciplines. During an internship with the National Park Service, he directed archival research on the Underground Railroad before writing his senior thesis on consumer reactions to the Great Anthracite Coal Strike. In 2013, Wolff worked with the Pennsylvania Geographical Society to build an online journal archive and collaborated with the editors to publish the 50th Anniversary edition.
Under the supervision of Dr. John Newman Carr, Wolff’s current research interrogates the various mechanisms through which universities mediate students’ and existing residents’ right to the city. This geographic scholarship builds upon his experience in student affairs and comes at a time of nearing crisis in higher education when record numbers of young adults are flooding cities to pursue postsecondary degrees in spite of limited job opportunities.
Wolff has presented his work at conferences across the country, including Annual Meetings of the American Association of Geographers in San Francisco and Tampa as well as at the Southwest Popular and American Cultural Association Conference, but is primarily focused on connecting theory to practice and producing real world solutions. He has partnered with planning groups in Johnstown, Pennsylvania to rezone commercial corridors with newly developed historic district overlays and has organized various university-community engagement campaigns in both Pennsylvania and New Mexico.
Upon finishing his master’s degree, Wolff expects to return east and leverage his expertise in higher education and sociospatial theory to work with steel communities as they begin envisioning a post-industrial future. These efforts will lay the groundwork for his eventual doctoral studies.