Professor Marans has conducted research and evaluative studies dealing with various aspects of communities, neighborhoods, housing, and parks and recreational facilities. His research has focused on attributes of the physical and sociocultural environments and their influence on individual and group behavior, well-being, and the quality of life. Much of Dr. Marans' research has been in the context of urban areas, including metro Detroit. His current work deals with cultural issues of sustainability and energy conservation in institutional settings including universities and the impact of the built and natural environments on quality of life.
Marans is a charter member and president of the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission and commissioner of the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority (HCMA), the governing body responsible for the planning, development, and operations of the metroparks throughout Southeastern Michigan. He also has served as a trustee of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.
Dr. Marans is the author or co-author of 7 books and more than 100 articles and technical reports. His most recent book, Investigating the Quality of Urban Life: Theory, Methods, and Empirical Research (co-edited with Robert Stimson) was published by Springer in 2011.He is the recipient of the 2012 Career Award of the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) and was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners (FAICP) in 2014.