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Matthew Fry

I am a geographer whose research and teaching focus on human-environment interactions. Themes of interest include energy and resource governance, socioeconomic and environmental impacts of resource production and consumption, land-use change, livelihoods, field mapping and spatial analysis, and urban dynamics. I conduct field research in Texas and Latin America.

My work draws on a wide range of theoretical perspectives, most of which fall within the large umbrella of cultural and political ecology. I also use mixed methods approaches including formal interview surveys, informal oral histories, archival research, participant observation, field techniques and measurements, GPS field mapping, and/or GIS analysis.

Ongoing Research Projects:

1. Hydrocarbon Governance and New Geographies of Fracking

The broader goal of this research program is to understand interrelationships among political-economics, property rights, law, environmental ethics, and landscape change in unconventional oil and gas development. With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), I lead a collaborative research project to examine how drilling ordinances are established and shared among different cities in Texas (Link to NSF award announcement). Another focus of my work on shale gas examines the environmental justice of fracking in communities and how the economic benefits and burdens are distributed. These projects advance earlier studies that found that distance ordinances that regulate the proximity of gas wells to homes are not based on empirical thresholds but are political compromises, and that conflicts over water consumption by shale gas operators stem from lack of understanding of the urban water cycle and inadequate water conservation education.


2. Political Ecology of Concrete and Cement

Recent research analyzed the historic and contemporary use of narratives by the cement industry to promote cement consumption and how this prevents the industry from reducing carbon dioxide emissions. My Geoforum article on the topic won first prize from The British Sociology Association Climate Change Study Group 2013 Article Prize. As well, past research examined how large-scale demand for concrete blocks influenced rural land use and livelihood strategies, local geographies, and cultural landscapes in the Xalapa-Perote region of central Veracruz, Mexico. I continue to explore urban and regional landscape dynamics in central Veracruz.


3. Timberline Land Cover Dynamics

Since 2008, I have been a member of a National Geographic Society funded collaborative project with Alexandra Ponette-Gonzalez in Rio Abiseo National Park, Peru, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The research examines how past grazing and burning affect timberline ecotone vegetation and soil. As part of the project, I developed a low-cost protocol for building digital elevation models (DEM) that will be used to analyze spatial relationships between disturbances and forest patch ecosystems.


Selected Courses:

Our Energy Futures (GEOG 4885); Culture, Environment and Society (GEOG 2170); Latin America: Geography and Globalization (GEOG 3770); Geography of Mexico (GEOG 3780)

Selected Publications

Fry, M., Brannstrom, C., and Murphy, T. 2015. How Dallas became Frack Free: Hydrocarbon Governance under Neoliberalism. Environment and Planning A 47: 2591-2608.


Fry, M., Briggle, A. and Kincaid, J. 2015. Fracking and Environmental (In)Justice in a Texas City. Ecological Economics 117: 97-107.


Fry, M., Ponette-Gonzalez, A.G., and Young, K.R. 2015. A low-cost GPS-based protocol to create high-resolution DEMs for remote mountain areas. Mountain Research and Development 35(1).


Ponette-Gonzalez, A.G. and Fry, M. 2014. Enduring footprint of historical land tenure on modern land cover in eastern Mexico: implications for environmental services programs. Area 46(4): 398-409.


Fry, M. 2013. Urban gas drilling and distance ordinances in the Texas Barnett Shale. Energy Policy 62: 79-89.


Fry, M. 2013. Cement, carbon dioxide, and the necessity narrative: A case study of Mexico. Geoforum 49: 127-138.


Fry, M., et al. 2012. Fracking vs Faucets: Balancing Energy Needs and Water Sustainability at Urban Frontiers. Environmental Science & Technology 46(14): 7444-7445


Fry, M. 2011. From Crops to Concrete: Deagriculturalization, Urbanization, and Construction Material Mining in Central Mexico. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 101(6): 1285-1306.


Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of North Texas

Web Links:

Research Interests:

energy and resource governance; cultural and political ecology; land use change; Latin America; field mapping and spatial analysis; urban dynamics

Matthew Fry


Department of Geography

University of North Texas

1155 Union Circle #305279

Denton, Texas 76203-5017

940.369.7576 TEL

940.369.7550 FAX


La Joya, Veracruz

Current Students and Research:

Reed Underwood, M.A. Department of Geography, UNT, degree expected Dec 2016, Memory and Continuity Amidst Irreversible Decline in The Texas Big Empty

Wesley Hellman, M.A., Department of Geography, UNT, degree expected 2017, Transparency, Disclosure, and Corporate Jurisdictions in Texas Unconventional Hydrocarbon Governance

(Note: if the CV link does not work in your browser, right click on it, copy link location, open a new tab, and paste the address.)