Noah Durst et al to Receive 2024 Honorable Mention Best Article in the Journal of Urban Affairs Award (Sponsored by Routledge | Taylor & Francis)

Dr. Noah Durst (Michigan State University), Meng Cai (Michigan State University and Technical University of Darmstadt), Jada Tillison-Love Porter (Michigan Municipal League), Huiqing Huang (Dynamic Map Platform North America), and Wisdom Henry (Michigan State University) have been selected to receive the 2024 Best Article in the Journal of Urban Affairs Award for their paper “The gerrymandering of cities and the politics of racial exclusion: Evidence from a spatial typology of municipal boundary changes.” This award is sponsored by Routledge | Taylor & Francis.

This annual award gives recognition to a paper published in the Journal of Urban Affairs (during the previous year) that is considered particularly outstanding as a scholarly contribution to the field of urban affairs. An honorable mention is awarded when the selection committee determines that a second paper deserves to be recognized.


“Noah. J. Durst, Meng Cai, Jada Tillison-Love Porter, Huiqing Huang, and Wisdom Henry receive a Honorable Mention for their article “The Gerrymandering of Cities and the Politics of Racial Exclusion: Evidence from a Spatial Typology of Municipal Boundary Changes.”  Using Python programming language, the authors analyze changes in municipal borders over different time periods to compare the racial and socioeconomic characteristics of areas that cities have annexed with those that are ‘underbounded’ (unincorporated areas partially or completely surrounded by the city).  The authors find that compared to annexed areas, underbounded areas tend to be more urbanized, have higher population densities, higher shares of Black residents and lower homeownership rates, suggesting that municipal boundary changes might have taken place in a way that excludes these areas and their residents. This article is adeptly situated within a scholarly literature about jurisdictional inclusion and fragmentation, and makes an important and innovative contribution to our understanding of gerrymandering and municipal annexation. The research has relevance for planning practitioners, local municipal boundary commission members, and those studying land-use and local-government law.”


Noah J. Durst is an Associate Professor in the Urban & Regional Planning Program in the School of Planning, Design, and Construction at Michigan State University. He joined the program in 2017, after earning a PhD in Public Policy from the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, where he also completed Masters degrees in Public Affairs and Latin American Studies. His research interests include housing affordability, land use regulation, municipal annexation, and urban informality. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S Department of the Treasury.

Meng Cai is a PhD candidate in urban and regional planning at Michigan State University. She works as a scientific staff in the Institute of Transport Planning and Traffic Engineering at the Technical University, Darmstadt. Her research interests lie in the intersection of urban sustainability, transformative technologies, and computational methods.

Jada Tillison-Love Porter is a Program Coordinator with the Policy Research Labs at the Michigan Municipal League. She assists with engaging communities and coordinating a variety of technical assistance programs and services. Prior to joining the League in 2021, she gained community and economic development experience through her role as a fellow in the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan’s Community Development Fellowship and work with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in the Redevelopment Ready Communities program. In addition, Jada served as the Chair of the Michigan Association of Planning’s Emerging Planning Professionals. Jada earned a degree in Urban & Regional Planning from Michigan State University.

Huiqing Huang completed his master’s degree in Urban Regional Planning at Michigan State University and currently serves as a production engineer at Dynamic Map Platform North America, Inc. (DMP NA). Throughout his academic journey, Mr. Huang actively engaged in numerous projects spanning remote sensing, geographic information systems, urban and transportation planning, housing market analysis and policy, environmental sustainability, natural resource management, urbanization, and climate change. In his present role at DMP NA, Mr. Huang oversees software development, conducts code reviews, facilitates testing, and provides relevant training.


The formal presentation of this award will be made at the upcoming International Conference on Urban Affairs in New York at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. The theme of this year’s conference is Cities on the Edge: Promoting Equity and Resiliency through Research, Activism, Planning and Policy. The conference will convene over 1200 participants from 55+ countries and representing 20+ fields of study. All award recipients will be formally recognized for their achievements during the Awards and Recognition Program on April 24, 2024; 4:30 – 5:30pm.


Alex Schwartz, The New School (Chair); Jae Hong Kim, University of California, Irvine; Rachel Kleit, The Ohio State University; Stefan Norgaard, Columbia University; Raksha Vasudevan, Teachers College, Columbia University


The Urban Affairs Association (UAA) is an international professional organization for 700+ urban scholars, researchers, policy analysts, & public service providers. UAA is dedicated to creating interdisciplinary spaces for engaging in intellectual and practical discussions about urban life. Through theoretical, empirical, and action-oriented research, UAA fosters diverse activities to understand and shape a more just and equitable urban world.

In addition to hosting an annual conference, UAA sponsors ongoing professional development opportunities; Upsilon Sigma: The Urban Studies Honor Society; and two peer-reviewed journals, the Journal of Urban Affairs and the Journal of Race, Ethnicity and the City. You can find UAA on the web, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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