NCSG Alumna Wins ACSP Best Thesis Award


Dissertation on Smart Growth in Maryland Recognized as Best in the Nation


Maryland alumna and NCSG affiliate Rebecca Lewis (Master of Public Policy ’08, Ph.D. Urban and Regional Planning and Design ’11) is this year’s recipient of the Barclay Gibbs Jones Award for Best Dissertation in Planning from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP). Her 2011 dissertation, which examined the effectiveness of smart growth instruments in Maryland, was selected among a bevy of doctoral thesis entries nation-wide. Award Committee Chair William Goldsmith recognized Lewis last week at the ACSP conference in Cincinnati, OH.

“I am humbled and honored to receive the Barclay Gibbs Jones dissertation award for the Best Dissertation in Planning,” said Lewis. “The data and collaborative research environment offered by the National Center for Smart Growth, financial support from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and particularly, the direction and support from my advisor, Gerrit Knaap, enabled me to achieve this great honor.”

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning promotes planning education, research, service and outreach in the United States and worldwide through institutional collaboration and community outreach. The Barclay Gibbs Jones Award recognizes theses that address pertinent issues faced by government and planning agencies and that also provide guidance on decision-making. This year’s award committee consisted of distinguished professionals in a variety of planning facets, including city, regional and federal planners.

Lewis’ dissertation, entitled “Do Smart Growth Instruments in Maryland Make a Difference?” examined the effectiveness of three smart growth instruments used by the state of Maryland to manage growth and allocation of resources for appropriate development, preservation and revitalization. In addition to presenting her findings, Lewis suggests ways Maryland can better integrate state programs with local planning statutes to improve instrument implementation and performance. Two papers from Lewis’ dissertation have been published in the premiere planning journal, The Journal of the American Planning Association and a third is forthcoming in Regional Science, Practice and Policy. In addition, Lewis was named a C. Lowell Harriss Dissertation Fellow by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in 2010.

“All of us at the National Center for Smart Growth and the PhD program in Urban Planning and Design take great pride in Rebecca’s success,” said Gerrit Knaap, Director of the University of Maryland National Center for Smart Growth. “The opportunity to work with students of her intellect and energy is what makes working at the University of Maryland so special.”

Lewis has leant her professional expertise to journal articles, papers and books on smart growth related issues and has presented at several conferences nation-wide. She is a Faculty Affiliate with the University’s National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education and is currently an Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Florida State University.

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