Lori Hunter’s research examines interactions between local environments and demographic outcomes such as human migration and health. Her current work focuses on these processes in rural Mexico and South Africa. Dr. Hunter also examines demographic and economic change in small towns across the U.S., with an emphasis on the impact of such changes on community and individual well-being.
Lori Hunter is Director of the Institute of Behavioral Science and Professor of Sociology. She is also an affiliate of the CU Population Center, an NIH-supported research center for which she served as Director from 2017-2022.
Dr. Hunter’s research contributions have been recognized by invitations to join the National Academy of Sciences Board on Environmental Change and Society and the White House advisory Roundtable on Macro-Economic Change and Climate. She served as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Population and Environment from 2007-2017 and as Chair of the Department of Sociology, 2019-2021, and is an Honorary Senior Research in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.
Recent research projects include empirical and conceptual examinations of the connections between human migration, health, and climate change. A review paper recently published in Population and Environment shows the critical importance of thinking carefully about these interconnections within relevant research and policy. Her recent research on small towns across the U.S. has identified several patterns of change and linked these to the prospects of rural young people as they move through life. This work on “social mobility” suggests that rural youth are not necessarily as disadvantaged as the popular press might have us believe.
Hunter has published over 80 peer-reviewed manuscripts and many book chapters on these topics and is regularly invited to speak, especially on climate-migration connections. She has offered commentary for the UN as the organization worked to integrate population issues into the Sustainable Development Agenda. She’s also consulted with the World Bank on migration, climate and gender, and her recent research on these topics has appeared in The Lancet, Global Environmental Change, Environmental Research Letters, Annual Review of Sociology, Population Research and Policy Review, Social Science Quarterly, and Society and Natural Resources.
Dr. Hunter has also served as Chair of a Special Emphasis Panel on Migration, Climate and Health for the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP), and Chair of the Steering Committee of the Population-Environment Research Network (PERN).