Marla Nelson, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Planning and Urban Studies at the University of New Orleans where she serves as coordinator of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program, the only accredited planning program in the state of Louisiana. Her areas of expertise include local and regional economic development, community development and urban revitalization.
Nelson’s recent research examined the economic and workforce development potential of health services in central cities throughout the United States. Her current work focuses on two key areas. The first examines how cities cope with population decline, whether sudden or prolonged, sustained or temporary, and the tensions among equity, efficiency and environmental management in the implementation of redevelopment strategies in weak market cities. The second investigates the locational preferences of a segment of the “creative class”–socially motivated professionals. The rebuilding circumstances in New Orleans create a unique opportunity to examine this sub-group of professionals. New Orleans, which had been facing a brain drain for decades prior to Hurricane Katrina, has attracted large numbers of highly mobile, young professionals who have moved to the city to take part in recovery and rebuilding.
Nelson’s research has been funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Science Foundation, the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy and the Louisiana Board of Regents. She has published in Cityscape, Economic Development Quarterly, the Journal of Planning Education and Research, the Journal of Urban Affairs, the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Transportation Quarterly and Urban Geography. Nelson is a member of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, the national and Louisiana chapters of the American Planning Association (APA), the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), Planners Network and the Urban Affairs Association.