Larissa Larsen is the chair of the urban and regional planning program and an associate professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan. She teaches graduate classes in environmental planning, land use planning, and physical planning and design. She also oversees the physical planning concentration within the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (M.U.R.P.) program. Larsen teaches two required classes in the M.U.R.P. program: URP 508 – Spatial Thinking and Environmental Systems and URP 507 – Fundamentals of Planning Practice. She also teaches classes in GIS (geographic information systems) and land use planning.
Larsen’s research focuses on the urban environmental problems of extreme heat/urban heat islands, water pollution and infrastructure, and stormwater flooding. In her research, she documents the magnitude of these environmental problems and ‘tests’ the effectiveness of different design and policy interventions. Her research is highly interdisciplinary and she incorporates many ‘physical/natural/health’ concepts and measures and works with faculty in public health and civil and environmental engineering. In 2014, Larsen began a research collaboration with Dr. Kumelachew Yeshitela at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. Together, they have been studying the city’s rapid, low-density development and how this impacts the provision of water and ecosystem services. She is expanding this research beyond Addis Ababa to ask questions about patterns of urbanization and water infrastructure in other East African cities.
Larsen grew up on a farm near St. Marys, Ontario. She completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Guelph, Ontario. Larissa received her Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After completing her Ph.D., she worked as a landscape architect and urban planner for a private firm in Chicago, Illinois. She is a registered landscape architect and has a passion for native plants. Before coming to the University of Michigan, she taught at Arizona State University for two years.