1 bio

I’m a PhD candidate at the Brown University Department of Sociology. My research investigates inequality and stratification as environmental processes with a focus on long-term trajectories of social and environmental change in cities. I also have an enduring interest in political ecology and science and technology studies. Check out my work using the links below. Thanks for visiting!

2 research, data, and methods

3 recent work


— please contact me for copies of any publications —


+ ongoing projects +

Socio-ecological city project. Collaborative project collecting a wide array of longitudinal spatial data on industrial, environmental, and social change in the Providence, RI area.


+ publications +

Candipan, J. and Tollefson, J. (forthcoming) “Cities.” Invited chapter for The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Machine Learning (Borch, C. and Pardo-Guerra, J.P., eds.).

Tollefson, J., Frickel, S., Gonsalves, S., and Marlow, T. (2023) “Parks, people and pollution: A relational study of socioenvironmental succession.” City & Community (special issue: Environmentalizing Urban Sociology) 22(4): 286–307.

Tollefson, J., Frickel, S., Gonsalves, S., Marlow, T., Sucsy, R., Byrns, M., and Orpen-Tuz, M. (2023) “Early childcare and education in a post-industrial landscape: Inequalities in exposure to active and relic manufacturing in metropolitan Providence, Rhode Island.” Environmental Justice 16(4): 309-320.

Frickel, S. and Tollefson, J. (2022) “When environmental inequality racialized: Historical evidence from Providence, Rhode Island.” Socius 8:1-14.

Tollefson, J., Frickel, S. and Restrepo, MI. (2021) “Feature extraction and machine learning techniques for identifying historic urban environmental hazards.” PLoS ONE 16(8): e0255507.

  • Finalist: 2022 John Odland Award, American Association of Geographers Spatial Analysis and Modeling Group

Tollefson, J. and Panikkar, B. (2020) “Impact assessment, public engagement, and environmental knowledge production: Large mine permitting in Alaska’s Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.” Journal of Political Ecology 27(1): 1166-1188.

  • Awarded: 2021 Graduate Student Paper Award, Rural Sociological Society NRRIG

Tollefson, J. (2020) “Post-Fukushima discourse in the US press: Quantified knowledge, the technical object, and a panicked public.” Public Understanding of Science 29(7): 670-687.

Panikkar, B. and Tollefson, J. (2018) “Land as material, knowledge and relationships: Resource extraction and subsistence imaginaries in Bristol Bay, Alaska.” Social Studies of Science 48(5): 715-739.


+ working papers +

Tollefson, J. “Environmental risk and the changing scale of urban inequality, 1880-1930.” Working paper.

  • Honorable mention: 2024 Candace Rogers Award, Eastern Sociological Society

Tollefson, J., Frickel, S., Helgeson, J., and Gore, C. “The development and structure of community resilience planning research.” Under review.

Tollefson, J. “HOLC redlining as an environmental process.” Working paper.

Tollefson, J., Frickel, S., Helgeson, J., and Gore, C. “From adaptation to resilience: The evolution of a field.” Working paper.

Burns, A. and Tollefson, J. “Inequality in the effects of pesticide exposure on infant health.” Working paper delivered at Population Association of America (New Orleans, LA. Apr. 12-15, 2023) and American Sociological Association (Philadelphia, PA. Aug. 17-21, 2023).

Tollefson, J. “Suburban development and agricultural land conversion: New landscapes of environmental inequality.” Working paper delivered at Pacific Sociological Association (Sacramento, CA. Apr. 9, 2022).


+ public sociology +

Tollefson, J. (2023) Redlining and segregation in Providence, RI. Essay for Mapping Inequality. Richmond, VA: University of Richmond Digital Scholarship Lab.

Tollefson, J. and Frickel, S. (2021) “Gasworks, lost and found.” Urban Omnibus. July 1.

Tollefson, J. and Urso, M. (2018) “Black Lives Matter at St. Patrick’s Day Parade.” Op-ed in the Providence Journal. April 2.


4 contact

5 cv