Making an impact on policy, and in the halls of Congress

Nik Theodore, Researcher of the Year

Nik Theodore: Media information firm Thomson-Reuters ranks him among the world’s most highly cited researchers. Photo: S.K. Vemmer

The Researcher of the Year Award recognizes 10 UIC scientists who are advancing knowledge in their fields. The Distinguished Researcher Award honors five researchers with a record of outstanding achievement. The Rising Star Award honors early-career researchers who show promise as future leaders. 


Nik Theodore 
Distinguished Researcher 

Nik Theodore is one of the most influential researchers in the world.

Who says? Thomson-Reuters, for starters. Last year, the multinational media and information firm named Theodore to a list of the world’s most highly cited researchers, “the people who are on the cutting edge of their fields. They are performing and publishing work that their peers recognize as vital to the advancement of their science.”

Theodore, professor of urban planning and public affairs, was one of only two urban planners and 177 social science researchers worldwide named to the list.

The New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times frequently report on his national studies of daily social injustices like wage theft, labor standards violations and other abuses of low-wage workers, including those in temporary staffing agencies, the day labor market and domestic work.

His academic publishing has drawn widespread attention over many years. His most frequently cited paper, “Cities and the geographies of ‘actually existing neoliberalism,’” has gained increasing attention since its publication in 2002, totaling 1,676 citations to date, according to Google Scholar.

His primary focus in academic publishing is neoliberalism and its restructuring of the domestic and global economies, especially as they affect workforce development, workers’ rights, the informal economy and exploitation of vulnerable workers.

Theodore is an expert in policy transfer — the movement of public policies and policy models across jurisdictions. He co-authored Fast Policy: Experimental Statecraft at the Thresholds of Neoliberalism (University of Minnesota Press), to be published this spring.

He is a senior fellow of the Great Cities Institute, associate dean for faculty affairs and research in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs and faculty affiliate to the Latin American and Latino Studies program.

Outside UIC, Theodore is editor-in-chief of Antipode: A Journal of Radical Geography and is an editorial board member of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. He is prolific as well as persuasive, averaging eight to 10 articles or book chapters a year for the past 15 years, says Michael Pagano, dean of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs.

“His impact is felt not only here in the academy, but also in the halls of public policy institutions, including Congress,” Pagano says.


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