Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies

Staff Profile

Professor Rachel Franklin

Professor of Geographical Analysis


I am Professor of Geographical Analysis in the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS) and the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University. I am also one of four chairs appointed to expand our international, cross-disciplinary reputation in Spatial Analytics and Modeling (SAM@Newcastle) and, as of Fall 2018, a Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute.


My primary research focus is in spatial demography and the interplay between spatial analytics and demographic change, in particular quantifying patterns, sources and impacts of spatial inequality. Current projects, for example, study the role of spatial scale and context in understanding the manifestation and impacts of depopulation across neighborhoods, cities, and regions in the United States. I also maintain an ongoing interest in pedagogy, especially the teaching of methods. I have taught spatial analysis, GIS, and quantitative methods for well over a decade, with a pedagogic orientation towards policy applications and the social sciences and humanities. I am co-author of a recent textbook aimed at teaching GIS for the social sciences.


I am the current editor of the journal, Geographical Analysis, previous book review editor of the Journal of Regional Science, and a member of the editorial boards of Population, Space and Place, Journal of Geographical SystemsThe Annals of Regional ScienceUrban Climate, and Spatial Research and Planning. For eight years (2010–2018) I was the Associate Director of the Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences (S4) initiative at Brown University in the U.S. and also held an academic appointment in Population Studies. Other professional experience includes the U.S. Census Bureau and the American Association of Geographers (AAG).


I received my PhD in Geography from the University of Arizona (2004). My previous degrees are from Indiana University: BA in French and Political Science and MA in West European Studies. 


I am a population geographer with research interests in the sources and impacts of demographic change as it occurs at multiple spatial scales. Demography -- age structure, migration patterns, or human capital stocks, for example -- is at the core of most social science, health, or environmental challenges facing us. I work at the regional and local scales to understand how best to characterize or measure the populations of places; how location and scale are related to demographic change; and how migration, especially internal, affects demographic composition. I am especially interested in in how we use data and statistics to understand what sorts of people are located where, how this changes over time, and what this means for our understanding of spatial inequality.


Recent and ongoing projects address population loss or shrinkage at the local and regional scales in the United States. This research has focused in particular on the ways in which the degree of loss in any one time period may be mediated or exacerbated by the larger geographical and historical context; the demographic sources of population loss; spatial metrics for urban shrinkage; and the impacts of loss on inequality. These projects have been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health in the United States. Other research focuses on the measurement of human capital stocks and the relationship between migration and human capital, including research on university student migration flows in the United States.


A third area of ongoing research has been the evolving observed spatial variation in the population composition of the United States, especially in terms of ethnic/racial diversity and age structure.