Urban and Regional Transformation Cohort Activities


Dr. Kevin Douglas Kuswa, Department of Communication--Dr. Kuswa is the Director of Debate and has been expanding the debate program in conjunction with the Cohort on Urban and Regional Transformation.  He recently published a paper on critical regionalism in Rhetoric Society Quarterly and he has traveled with Fresno State students to debate tournaments at USC, Pepperdine, San Francisco State, UNLV, and a number of other locations.  The team is doing extremely well and is now ranked in the top 75 in the country.  He is organizing a public debate in the Free Speech area on April 8th on the topic of energy and sustainability.  Dr. Kuswa has also trained a number of Fresno State students as judges for high school forensics events, proving hundreds of rounds of judging to speech and debate events at high schools in the Central Valley.


Dr. Hongwei Dong, Department of Geography--Dr. Dong is working on a research project titled, “What Does Smart Growth Mean for Small and Rural Communities? A Case Study on Cities in the San Joaquin Valley, California”. The study evaluates smart growth in major cities in the San Joaquin Valley. Dr. Dong has collected large amount of land use, transportation, and socioeconomic data at the block group level for the eight counties in the Valley. A set of smart growth indices have been developed and have been visualized in ArcGIS. The indices and maps are useful for the evaluation of smart growth in the valley at disaggregated spatial scale. Dr. Dong is also designing a survey for local planners to understand major challenges for smart growth in small and rural communities in the valley. Dr. Dong will work with the Office of Community and Economic Development at Fresno State to conduct the survey in March and present survey results at the American Planning Association California 2013 Conference in Visalia. He is also currently updating and maintaining the URT webpage.


Drs. Pei Xu, Department of Agricultural Business & David Vera, Department of Economics—Drs. Xu and Vera are collaborating on a research project titled, “Understanding Agricultural Sustainability: A California Agribusiness Student Perspective”. They designed a survey to assess Ag-business students' perspective on sustainability, deployed the survey and obtained preliminary results. They have submitted initial findings to be considered for presentation at the Western Agricultural Economics Annual Conference in Monterey Bay, June 26-28.


Dr. David Vera’s media and community outreach contributions also include the following:
(1) Radio Bilingue "linea abierta" at 12:00pm - 1pm on 03/04/13. Discussed the sequester and its effects on the Latino population (Spanish).
(2) Univision Live News at 11pm on 02/12/13. Discussed the State of the Union and its implication for the Latino population (Spanish).
(3) Presented and answered questions on "the current conditions of the U.S. economy". Tulare and Kings Counties Estate Planners, 10/18/2012
(4) The Fresno BEE on 09/19/12. Discussed poverty numbers for Fresno and the Central Valley.
(5) Market Place Public radio on 09/20/12. Discussed poverty numbers for Fresno and the Central Valley.
(6) Local radio station KFCF 88.1FM (with Eduardo Stanley), Fresno. Discussed poverty numbers for Fresno and the Central Valley. (Spanish), 09/19/12

Dr. Eric Liguori, Department of Management--Dr. Eric Liguori has completed round 1 of his data collection as well as preliminary analysis of the data. Funding has been provided for the requisite Round 2 data by the Provost's office and Dr. Liguori is in the process of coordinating the Round 2 data collection (target completion May 2013). By August 2013 a preliminary report and will be available and conference paper submission underway for presentation consideration at the 2014 annual meeting of the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE).

Dr. Cui Lin, Department of Computer Science—Dr. Lin continues to make progress on her project, “URT Big Date Cloud Platform.” Prior to her leave of absence in the fall of 2012, she had been working with her graduate student and Fresno State Web Communications to design, develop, and manage the Urban & Regional Transformation Website from scratch. In Dr. Lin’s absence, Dr. Lin was on a Leave of Absence, Dr. Hongwei Dong took a leadership role and worked with the Computer Science graduate student to complete and launch the website in the fall of 2012. The website is continuously updated with information provided to Dr. Dong by other cohort members, and is maintained by the Computer Science graduate student. Dr. Lin has received $222,441.00 NSF award for the ATLAS project and has been leading computing efforts in collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and two top research universities in China.  An Openstack private cloud infrastructure has been built up and can be utilized to provide on-cloud computing environments for cohort members. As the director of Keck Computational Science Center, Dr. Lin has been working with research assistants and ITS on the Keck Cloud Infrastructure that can support URT cohort members online services of data management, intensive computing and network.  Dr. Lin is planning to develop the Fresno URT Big Data Cloud Platform on the Keck Cloud Infrastructure. She is the co-chair of IEEE International Workshop on Workflow Models, Systems, Services and Applications in the Cloud, and now organizing a workshop for 2013 IEEE International Conference on Big Data.


Dean Robert Harper, Craig School of Business - The Craig School of Business reports a monthly survey of business conditions in the region.  The survey is the same as that reported nationally by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).  Indices are reported for the overall economy, new orders, production, inventories, employment, delivery lead time, prices and confidence. The national survey has been used by economists and government officials to forecast the future state of the economy. It provides an early indication of where the economy is headed in the next three to six months.  For more information, see:


Keith Woodcock, Department of Geography – Mr. Woodcock is developing community engagement tools and assessments. He presented at the 2012 American Public Health Association' annual conference on community engagement tools, including Photovoice and Teatro Juvenil to help develop policies and outreach programs to 1.) Build Social Capital in disadvantaged communities; and 2.) To promote Healthy Eating and Active Living. He also presented at the 2012 California Chapter of the American Planning Association on the Economic Benefits of a Healthy Community.  On invitation from the Institute of Local Government, he made a webinar presentation on Community Engagement Strategies to Build Healthy Communities.  Mr. Woodcock was invited by the Local Government Commission to present Community Engagement Tools at two Smart Valley Places seminars.  He is scheduled to be a presenter at the 2013 American Planning Association annual conference, Technology Showcase, on the use of Photovoice as a planning tool to engage youth in the development of policies for inclusion in the General Plan.  


Dr. Madhusudan Katti, Department of Biology—Dr. Katti has been involved in several collaborations on understanding global patterns and processes in urban ecosystems and biodiversity through a comparative approach studying cities worldwide. Last summer, at the beginning of his sabbatical, he spent two months at the Stockholm Resilience Center (http://stockholmresilience.org/) working on a new report for the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook (CBO), which is the first comprehensive assessment of cities from an ecosystem services and biodiversity perspective on a global scale. The CBO has drawn upon expertise and knowledge from over 150 scientists and urban practitioners from all over the world, and he is one of the 10 lead authors of the report. Last October, at the 11th Conference of Parties of the CBD in India, they released the first document from their effort: the "CBO: Action & Policy", as well as a special sub-report on India. A more comprehensive "Scientific Assessment" volume will be released later this spring, and he is currently authoring several chapters in this as well. Below are links to the work is his currently doing:

1.         Cities and Biodiversity Outlook: Action and Policy   

            PDF: http://figshare.com/articles/Cities_and_Biodiversity_Outlook:_Action_and_Policy/99889

2.         Urbanization, ecosystems, and biodiversity: Assessments of India and Bangalore

            PDF: http://figshare.com/articles/Urbanization,_ecosystems,_and_biodiversity:_Assessments_of_India_and_Bangalore/99890

3.        He gave a presentation about the CBO at the Central Valley Café Scientifique, see link below:



Dr. Zhi (Luke) Wang, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences – Dr. Z Wang has been working on a Department of Defense (DoD) funded research project on “Shallow saline aquifer monitoring at Naval Air Station Lemoore (NASL)” and a number of other studies focused on surface and groundwater quality issues in the San Joaquin Valley, specifically on drinking water contamination by nitrate or pesticide leaching from dairy farms and agricultural fields. The DoD-NASL project had a total funding of $231,496 for the 2010-2013 academic years, split at Fresno State into two sub-grants. One was awarded to Dr. Z Wang for $138,566 to study the effects of soil and groundwater salinity in the western San Joaquin Valley on environmental and human health at the military base. The other part of the grant was awarded to Dr. Paul Crosbie of Biology Department to study the effects of plant and wildlife populations on the base. Both the projects are now completed with practical recommendations forwarded to DoD. Other student research projects led by Dr. Wang (and supported by the NSF funded METRO program) are looking at: (1) effects of storm water disposal to the San Joaquin River through a wetland system below the Woodward Park area; (2) Drinking water quality assessment in Fresno and the Valley communities as some areas have detected “rotten egg” smell in water from wells and some other areas see elevated nitrate in the groundwater; and (3) Contaminant transport through the hard pan soils in Fresno agricultural areas as pesticides had been detected in ground water systems in recent years.


Dr. J. Andrew Hansz, Gazarian Real Estate Center, Craig School of Business –Dr. Hansz’ activities this past year includes three journal publications, five conference proceedings, and ten media quotations. He presented his research at the Fresno’s economic base at the 2012 Fresno EDC Real Estate Forecast Event and will present again on April 11, 2013. He served on the Board of Directors of the El Dorado Park Community Development Corporation since 2011 and this past year has taken on the responsibility of Treasurer. The Gazarian Real Estate hosts two major (regional) real estate conferences per year, the Fresno Housing Market Symposium and the Fresno Agricultural Valuation Symposium (see below). Additionally, the Gazarian Real Estate Center conducts a real estate market sentiment survey and compiles an index twice per year.

Publications – Refereed Journals

“Club Good Influence on Residential Transaction Prices,” with Darren K. Hayunga, Journal of Real Estate Research, (34:4) 2012, 549-575.

“Dynamic Interactions in Private and Public Real Estate Markets: International Evidence,” with Nafeesa Yunus and Paul J. Kennedy, Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, (45:4) 2012, 1021-1040.

“The Value of ‘Green:’ Evidence from the First Mandatory Residential Green Building Program,” with Ramya Rajajagadeesan Aroul, Journal of Real Estate Research, (34:1) 2012, 27-49.

Academic Conference Proceedings

American Real Estate Society Conference 2013, Mauna Lani Bay, HI “Valuation Impact on Distressed Residential Transactions: The Anatomy of a Housing Price Bubble” (accepted)

Midwest Finance Association Conference 2013, Chicago, IL “Valuation Impact on Distressed Residential Transactions: The Anatomy of a Housing Price Bubble” (accepted)

Global Chinese Real Estate Congress Conference 2012, Macao SAR, China “Property Sector Diversification in Domestic Real Estate Portfolios”

American Real Estate Society Conference 2012, St. Petersburg, FL “A Cash Premium in Residential Transaction Prices”

Midwest Finance Association Conference 2012, New Orleans, LA “Dual Pane Windows and Improvement Age in Explaining Residential Property Values”

Quoted in Media

  • “Home Ownership Up in Fresno, Down In Other California Communities,” The Fresno Bee January 31, 2013. http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/01/31/3156059/home-ownership-up-in-fresno-down.html
  • “Price of Ag Land in Valley Soaring,” The Fresno Bee January 24, 2013, p. 1. http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/01/23/3145084/farmland-prices-continue-to-soar.html
  • “Local Experts Say Farmland ‘Bubble’ Non-existent,” The Business Journal January 23, 2013. http://www.thebusinessjournal.com/news/agriculture/4706-local-experts-say-farmland-bubble-non-existent
  • “Real Estate Log: Fresno State Students to Craft Plans,” The Fresno Bee January 24, 2013. http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/01/24/3147146/real-estate-log-fresno-state-students.html
  • “Berkshire Hathaway Affiliate Buys Fresno’s Guarantee Real Estate,” The Fresno Bee January 9, 2013. http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/01/09/3127140/berkshire-hathaway-affiliate-homeservices.html
  • “Panel Experts Upbeat on Valley Housing: Valley Builders are Selling Only Fraction of New Homes,” The Fresno Bee October 4, 2012. http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/10/04/3018077/panel-experts-unbeat-on-valley.html
  • “Valley Home Construction Making a Comeback,” The Fresno Bee October 25, 2012.
  • “Fresno Home Prices Inch Up,” The Fresno Bee September 9, 2012, p. 1. http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/09/09/2985549/fresno-home-prices-inch-up.html
  • “Fresno State Faculty Dubbed Entrepreneurship ‘Baristas,” The Business Journal August 31, 2012, p. 1. http://www.thebusinessjournal.com/weekly-issues/the-news/3108-fresno-state-faculty-dubbed-entrepreneurship-baristas
  • “Use Eminent Domain to Seize Mortgages, Company Says,” The Fresno Bee.com August 22, 2012. http://fresnobeehive.com/news/2012/08/use_eminent_domain_to_seize_mo.html

Service – Director, Gazarian Real Estate Center (California State University-Fresno)

  • 2013 Fresno Agricultural Valuation Symposium, keynote speakers included Stan Xavier of Correia-Xavier Inc. and Dr. Mechel Paggi from the Center for Agricultural Business, January 23, 2013 (co-hosted with the Fresno State Department of Agricultural Business and co-sponsored with the Northern California Chapter of the Appraisal Institute and the California Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers)
  • 2012 Fresno Housing Market Symposium, keynote speakers included Mark Boud of Real Estate Economics and Robert Stephens of Department of Housing and Urban Development, October 3, 2012 (co-sponsored with the Urban Land Institute-San Francisco and Diversified Development Group)

Service – University and Community Oriented Presentations (California State University-Fresno)

  • Fresno Economic Development Corporation’s 2013 Real Estate Forecast Event (attendance 500 +/- estimated), Education and Fresno’s Economic Base and Real Estate Markets, April 11, 2013
  • Fresno Economic Development Corporation’s 2012 Real Estate Forecast Event (attendance 400 +/-), Educate, Connect, and Innovate (ECI): A Prescription for Fresno’s Economic Base and Real Estate Markets, March 15, 2012

Community Involvement

  • El Dorado Park Community Development Corporation, Board of Directors and Treasurer, 2011 to present

Copper River Country Club, tennis member, 2011 to present