Lauren Forbes to Receive the 2024 Alma H. Young Emerging Scholar Award

Dr. Lauren Forbes (University of Cincinnati) has been selected to receive the 2024 Alma H. Young Emerging Scholar Award.

This annual award is given to a promising Ph.D. candidate or early career researcher whose work demonstrates a commitment to rigorous and impactful research and service. It was renamed in 2004 in honor of Alma H. Young to commemorate her long standing service to the Urban Affairs Association (UAA), and her particular commitment to mentoring graduate students and junior faculty.


Dr. Lauren Forbes is currently a tenured track Assistant Professor of Public Administration, School of Public and International Affairs, University of Cincinnati. She received her Ph.D. from Andrew Young School of Public Studies at Georgia State University. Her dissertation, entitled Rooted Resistance: The Struggle for Black Liberation through Food Cultivation, examined the historically embedded barriers to sustainability among contemporary Black urban farms using a mixed methods approach. She demonstrated how structural exclusion influenced and continues to shape Black Urban farms, and the policy implications. 

Current policy-centered racial and social justice scholarship focuses on how policies and institutions negatively affect communities of color. Lauren’s scholarship places equal attention on how such communities respond to their marginalization and by using their own agency. As her nominating letter scholar said: Her research is solution-oriented from the ground up. 

Prior to joining the University of Cincinnati, she was a Fulbright Scholar in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Then she was awarded an ORISE Fellow at the CDC as part of the Child Development Team and the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. She was a 2022 Summer Diversity Academy Fellow at American University and the recipient of the APPAM Equity and Inclusion Young Professional Award.


Lauren Forbes is an Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati School of Public and International Affairs.  She studies equitable community development and resilience through local food systems and cultural institutions. Her interdisciplinary research centers capacity and collaboration building among grassroots organizations, institutional-community partnerships, and co-production processes. Through her work, Lauren addresses the social and structural determinants of health that sustain racial inequities and uneven urban development. She is currently principal investigator of a pilot study linking prenatal nutrition and Black birth outcomes with an emergent local food network and community advisory board. In her role as a steering committee member of Joining Forces for Children- a local child-focused collective impact organization- she leads efforts to advance trauma-informed policies within the city of Cincinnati. Lauren holds a PhD in public policy from Georgia State University Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, a Master of Public Health from Drexel University, and a Bachelor of Science from Oregon State University.


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.


Deirdre Oakley, Georgia State University (Chair); Robin Bartram, University of Chicago; Mark Davidson, Clark University; Matthew McLeskey, Oswego State College, SUNY


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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