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Paul Photo

Paul Laris Ph.D.

Professor and Chair of Geography
California State University, Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90840
562 985-2357 | Office: PH1-210

Research and Teaching Interests

My research interests include political ecology, biogeography, savanna ecology, remote sensing of fire, and restoration ecology. I have conducted research in the savanna of Mali and the rangelands of Tierra del Fuego while my graduate students are working in chaparral and coastal sage scrub environments of southern California.

My teaching interests include environmental courses such as International Environmental Issues, Humans as Agents of Environmental Change, Biogeography, Field Methods of Landscape Analysis and Lanscsape Restoration. I am currently serving as undergraduate advisor for the Environmental Science and Policy Program. I live in Long Beach with my two sons Copeland and Quincy.


Ph. D. 2002 Geography. Clark University, Worcester MA 01610
M.S.  Environmental Studies. San Jose State University
B.S.  Mechanical Engineering. University of California, Los Angeles

Selected Publications (e-mail me for copies)

Laris, P., Foltz, J.D. & Voorhees, B. 2014. Taking from cotton to grow maize: The shifting practices of small-holder farmers in the cotton belt of Mali. Agricultural Systems (on-line).

Laris, P., Caillault, S., Dadashi, S. and Jo, A. 2014. Buffering the savanna: the human ecology and geography of burning in an unstable environment. Journal of Ethnobiology (forthcoming).

Laris, P., & Foltz, J.D. 2014. Cotton as Catalyst?: The Shifting role of fertilizer in Mali’s Cotton Belt. Human Ecology, (on-line).

Engelberg, K., Laris, P., Nagy, B., and Eckardt, S. 2013. Comparing the Long-Term Impacts of Different Anthropogenic Disturbance Regimes on California Coastal Sage Scrub Recovery Professional Geographer (forthcoming).

Laris, P., & Dembele, F. 2012. Humanizing savanna models: integrating natural factors and anthropogenic disturbance regimes to determine tree-grass dynamics in savannas Land Change Science (published on-line July 14, 2011).

Ngo, M., Dallman,S., Laris, P., and Thien, D. 2012. Political Ecology of Emotion and Sacred Space: The Winnemem Wintu struggles with California water policy. Emotion, Space and Society (forthcoming).

Foltz, J.D., Aldana, U.T., Laris, P. 2012. The Sahel’s Silent Maize Revolution: Analyzing Maize Productivity in Mali at the Farm-Level. NBER Working Paper Series, Working Paper 17801. National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA.

Laris, P. 2011. Humanizing savanna biogeography: linking human practices with ecological patterns in a frequently burned savanna of southern Mali. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 101 (5): 1067-1088).

Laris, P., & Dembele, F. 2011. Humanizing savanna models: integrating natural factors and anthropogenic disturbance regimes to determine tree-grass dynamics in savannas Land Change Science (published on-line).

Kull, C.A., & Laris, P. 2009. Fire ecology and fire politics in Mali and Madagascar. Tropical Fire Ecology: Climate Change, Land Use and Ecosystem Dynamics. In Mark Cochrane (Ed.) Springer-Praxis, pp.171-226.

Laris, P. 2008. An anthropogenic escape route from the “Gulliver syndrome” in the West African savanna. Human Ecology 36: 789–805.

Laris, P. and Bakkoury, A. 2008. Nouvelles leçons d’une vieille pratique: Mosaïque du feu dans la savane du Mali. Bois et forêts des tropiques 296 (2): 5-16.

Klepeis, P. and Laris, P. 2008. Estancias, Hobby Ranching, and Chile’s Land Reform Legacy. The Geographical Review. 98 (3): 372-394.

Moseley, W. and Laris, P. 2008. Interrogating Past Lives: Questioning Environmental Narratives along the Transition from Development Volunteer to Academic. The Geographical Review 98 (1): 59-81.

Laris, P. and Wardell, D.A. 2006. Good, bad or “necessary evil?”: reinterpreting the colonial burning experiments in the savanna landscapes of West Africa. Geographical Journal 172(4): 217-290.

Klepeis, P., and Laris, P. 2006. Contesting Sustainable Development in Tierra del Fuego. Geoforum 37 (4): 505-518.

Laris, P. 2005. Spatiotemporal problems with detecting seasonal-mosaic fire regimes with coarse-resolution satellite data in savannas. Remote Sensing of Environment 99: 412-424.

Laris, P. 2002. Burning the Seasonal Mosaic: Preventative Burning Strategies in the Wooded Savanna of Southern Mali.  Human Ecology 30 (2): 155-186.

Research Projects

Fire Research in Mali

CSS Research in California

Laris C.V.


GEOG 355

GEOG 447

GEOG 4/586

GEOG 596


Mali Projects

Mali Schoolhouse