Geographer Susanna Hecht, professor of urban planning at the Luskin School, has been named director of the UCLA Center for Brazilian Studies, effective July 1. A specialist on tropical development in Latin America, especially Amazonia, she also holds joint appointments in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the department of geography at UCLA.
Hecht takes over leadership of the interdisciplinary research center, which serves UCLA faculty and students whose scholarship focuses on Brazil, from José Luiz Passos.
Hecht’s research focuses on the intersections of economies, cultures and land use — and the socio-environmental effects of these processes — an approach now widely known as political ecology, of which she is recognized as a founding thinker. Her work spans climate change, mitigation and the rethinking of longer-term strategies in light of globalization, intense migration and novel climate dynamics.
Her published books include “The Social Lives of Forests: Past, Present and Future of Woodland Resurgence” (Chicago, 2014; co-edited with Kathleen D. Morrison and Christine Padoch); “The Scramble for the Amazon and the ‘Lost Paradise of Euclides da Cunha’ ” (Chicago, 2013), which won the American Historical Association’s Best Book in Environmental History Award in 2015; and “Fate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers and Defenders of the Amazon” (Chicago, 2011; co-authored with Alexander Cockburn).
In addition to journal articles and book chapters, Hecht has also written monographs published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the National Academy of Sciences, the World Resources Institute and Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (Cali, Colombia).
She has won multiple academic awards, including the American Geographical Society’s David Livingstone Centenary Medal and the Carl Sauer Award, both for distinguished research on Latin America. She is a past member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University and holds a professorial appointment at the Graduate Institute for Advanced Development Studies in Geneva.
—UCLA International Institute