My research interests revolve broadly around the causes, processes, and implications of migration to urban regions. My current research explores the geography of place-branding, particularly as it relates to the causes, processes, and implications of immigration to urban regions, and other issues related to inclusive city- and place-branding strategies, initiatives, processes, and effects, how place-/city-branding strategies incorporate historically marginalized populations, and how place-branding can contribute to the cultural, economic, political, and social development of cities and regions. Within this context, I specifically focus on place-branding/place-promotion practices that intersect with processes of immigrant settlement, adjustment, integration, and receptivity, as well as place-promotion incorporation of historically marginalized populations more broadly, in cities and metropolitan areas, particularly in the U.S. South, using mixed-methods, qualitative, and community-based participatory research methods. I currently have several projects underway:

  • Atlanta's Immigrant Crossroads: Untapped Potential or Utilized Promise for Newcomer Integration, funded in part by a KSU Creative Activities and Research Experiences in Teams (CARET) grant from the KSU Office of Undergraduate Research, and a KSU Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) Pilot/Seed Grant, both with co-PI Dr. Darlene Xiomara Rodriguez (WellStar College of Health and Human Services). Additional funding through a Diversity Faculty Fellowship with the KSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion (for both Rodriguez and McDaniel), a Strategic Internationalization Grant through the KSU Division of Global Affairs (PI: Rodriguez), and a National Geographic Society grant (PI: McDaniel).
  • Local Processes of Immigrant and Refugee Receptivity, Integration, and City Branding/Place Branding in Transnational City Networks in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, with graduate research assistant support from The Graduate College and the KSU School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding & Development. This ongoing project involves several components at various stages, some of which has been published with other aspects currently ongoing. Current ongoing research focus areas include:
    1. Evaluation of Welcoming America's Atlanta One Region Initiative (2018-2021), funded in part through an Atlanta Global Research and Education Collaborative (AGREC) 2020-2021 grant.
    2. Exploring the response of welcoming cities/communities to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
    3. Examining the various themes of city-/place-branding within networks of welcoming cities/communities, funded in part by a KSU Radow College of Humanities and Social Sciences (RCHSS) 2017 Faculty Summer Research Grant.  
  • Lead editor on an edited book volume (forthcoming/in press in 2024 with Lexington Books/An Imprint of Rowman & Littlefield) about changing immigrant integration and receptivity experiences in twenty-first century new immigrant destination metropolitan regions in the United States. Fall 2021 CFP call for chapter proposals available here. Funded in part by a KSU Radow College of Humanities and Social Sciences (RCHSS) 2021-2022 Scholarship Support Grant, and with support via the Tenured Faculty Enhancement Program (Fall 2022) with the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Kennesaw State University. 
  • Co-editor for a Special Issue on Immigration and Immigrant Community Engagement: Democracy Realized through Immigrant Integration. Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship. Fall 2022 CFP for abstracts/article manuscripts available here.
  • Inclusive municipal place branding processes and practices in the Southeastern United States related to inclusion of historically marginalized populations and communities, including immigrant/refugee communities and LGBTQ+ communities. 
  • Assessing Implications of Human and Physical Geography in Public Art Landscapes of the Atlanta BeltLine. Funded in part by a 2023-2024 Department of Geography and Anthropology Intradepartmental Research Initiative grant. 
  • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL): I have several SoTL pedagogical projects already published and currently ongoing related to the various regional and systematic/thematic geography courses I teach and their intersections among the use of map exhibits, experiential learning, field trips, study abroad, Google Earth, ArcGIS Online, GIS StoryMaps, and impacts of the pandemic. Funded in part by KSU Radow College of Humanities and Social Sciences (RCHSS) 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022 Student Success Teaching Incentive Grants. 

Undergraduate and graduate student assistants are integral to the success and rigor of all my teaching, research, and outreach endeavors and I welcome expressions of interest from current and future students wishing to join one of my research teams. Students who have currently or previously assisted with my research projects include undergraduate students from a variety of majors, graduate students in the MS in Conflict Management program, and doctoral students in the PhD in International Conflict Management program. I routinely work with graduate and doctoral students in KSU's School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding & Development.  

Throughout all my work, I strive for my teaching, research, and service endeavors to embody the University’s commitment to civic and community engagement to strengthen the relationship between KSU and the larger community, as well as to diversity and inclusion, and to sustainability