Job Title: DEAN AND HUGHES PROFESSOR IN LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE AND PLANNINGCurriculum Vitae
Street address: 115 Jackson Street Building
Initially trained as an architect in her hometown of Sofia (the capital of Bulgaria), Sonia holds a master's and a doctoral degree in urban and environmental planning from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining the University of Georgia, she served as Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at the University of Maryland in College Park; Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, Virginia Tech; and Visiting Associate Professor at Harvard's Graduate School of Design. Sonia is the author/co-author of more than 80 publications with more than 2,000 citations. Her latest article, on shrinking cities, co-authored with Professor Robert Beauregard of Columbia University, was published in International Planning Studies (2020). Sonia’s book "Iron Curtains: Gates, Suburbs and Privatization of Space," published by Wiley-Blackwell, received the Honorable Mention for the Book Prize in Political and Social Studies sponsored by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. This award is given to an outstanding monograph in anthropology, political science, sociology, or geography. Her book "Zoned in the USA: The Origins and Implications of American Land Use Regulation," published by Cornell Press, received several academic honors. These include the Honorable Mention for the 2015 Best Book Award of the Urban Affairs Association; shortlist for the Best Book Award of the International Planning History Society; one of the Ten Best Books in Urban Planning, Design and Development of 2015 by Planetizen; list of Outstanding Academic Titles by Choice Magazine; and the biennial John Friedmann Best Book Award by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. In 2019, Planetizen named the book one of fourteen Top Urban Planning Books of the Decade (2010-2020). In 2020, Book Authority ranked it in the Top Ten of Land Use Law Books of All Time. Sonia is an elected Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
Sonia focuses on the interactions between social and cultural values and the urban built environment. Through her scholarship and teaching, she aims to advance understanding of the relationships between social processes, cultural values, and urban forms, and to create opportunities to make cities more equitable, prosperous, and sustainable. Her research has both a theoretical and an applied perspective. She strives to enhance the quality of urban environments by developing a richer theoretical understanding of the social processes and cultural values that influence their evolution. She also strives to provoke critical debates within the design and planning professions and thus contribute to innovation in practice.