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Larry Gorenflo

Stuckeman Chair in Design; Professor of Landscape Architecture, Geography, African Studies, and Anthropology
Portrait of Larry Gorenfo

Larry Gorenflo is a professor of landscape architecture, geography, African studies, and anthropology. He serves as the faculty-in-charge of the Environmental Inquiry Minor and is Director of Latin American Studies at Penn State. He holds the Eleanor R. Stuckman Chair in Design in the Stuckeman School.

Gorenflo is internationally recognized for research that identifies co-occurrence between linguistic (cultural) and biological diversity at geographic scales ranging from global to individual localities. His inquiries reveal opportunities for integrative conservation efforts that target both types of diversity. Expanding on this research is a focus on protected area design that seeks to integrate the speakers of Indigenous languages in reserves created primarily to conserve nature. Both biological and cultural diversity currently are disappearing rapidly in the early 21st century. As a second research focus, Dr. Gorenflo examines prehistoric landscapes in the Basin of Mexico, the location of both the pristine state centered at Teotihuacan and the core of the Aztec Empire. His research on prehistoric landscapes emphasizes regional settlement and the human ecology of resident sociocultural systems. In all of his work, Gorenflo employs geographic information system technology and a variety of analytical methods to illuminate the place of humans in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

The brief animated film “Can saving languages save nature?” created by BBC and the Open University (UK) draws heavily on research by Dr. Gorenflo that examines the geographic relationship and possible functional connections between biological and linguistic diversity. Click image to open video.

Blocky white drawing of human on a blue background with a brightly colored speech bubble representing the Earth.

  • Education
    • B.A. in Anthropology from The Pennsylvania State University in 1979 (with Highest Distinction)
    • M.A. in Anthropology from The University of Michigan in 1981
    • Ph.D. in Geography from University of California, Santa Barbara in 1985
  • Courses Taught

    Larry Gorenflo teaches both methodological topics and applied courses. The former includes LARCH 216/256, the studio-seminar course on landscape systems that involves introducing geographic information system technology and basic concepts from landscape ecology and planning to problems in landscape architecture. Applied courses consist of depth studios, where he focuses on conservation planning and urban design with an ecological emphasis. At present, Gorenflo is involved in a multi-year depth studio that focuses on urban design in Baltimore; begun with Professor Barry Kew, now at the University of Cincinnati, this course collaborates with the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (a National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research project) and the Baltimore-based non-profit organization Parks and People Foundation. He also teaches seminars on conceptual topics, including cultural ecology, water for people and nature, and protected area design, the seminars generally integrating designed human environments with their natural surroundings.

    Beginning in 2010, Gorenflo joined Brian Orland in offering a triad of courses – a depth studio, seminar, and colloquium – in the context of a service-learning environment in south-central Tanzania. Focusing on villages adjacent to Udzungwa Mountains National Park, this education abroad opportunity integrates students within a multi-year community design research effort that he has since co-directed with Carter Hunt and Edwin Sabuhoro, both Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management. The research underlying those course seeks is to identify design solutions that help local villages meet their needs without compromising the remarkable biodiversity in the reserve. Summer activities vary, depending on the research requirements of a particular season, and involve roughly 12 students from different departments who engage in fieldwork in addition to classroom and studio work.

  • Honors + Awards


    • Eleanor R. Stuckman Chair in Design, Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, The Pennsylvania State University.


    • Stuckman Professorship of Innovative Design, Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, The Pennsylvania State University.
  • Publications + Presentations


    Selected Books/Book Chapters

    • Gorenflo, L.J., Robertson, Ian G., and Nichols, Deborah L. (2023). The Basin of Mexico: Revisiting Prehispanic Population. In Ancient Mesoamerican Population History: Demography, Social Complexity, and Change, edited by Arlen F. Chase, Diane Z. Chase, and Adrian S.Z. Chase. University of Arizona Press (in press).
    • Gorenflo, L.J. (2023). Modern Regional Demographics and Land Use in the Basin of Mexico: Insights from, and Impacts on, the Archaeological Record. In The Legacies of The Basin of Mexico: Ecological Processes in the Evolution of a Civilization, edited by C. Cordova and C. Morehart, pp. 150-171. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.
    • Parsons, J.R., and Gorenflo, L.J. (2023). Why is Aztec II Black-on-Orange Pottery so Scarce in the Zumpango Region? A Regional Perspective from the Basin of Mexico on Tula’s Collapse and its Aftermath. In The Legacies of The Basin of Mexico: Ecological Processes in the Evolution of a Civilization, edited by C. Cordova and C. Morehart, pp. 89-117. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.
    • Gorenflo, L.J., and Sanders, W.T. (2022). Prehispanic Settlement Patterns in the Temascalapa Region, Mexico. Occasional Papers in Anthropology, Number 31, Department of Anthropology. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University.
    • Gorenflo, L.J. (2016). Beyond Protected Areas: Defining a New Geography for Biodiversity Conservation. In Tropical Conservation. Perspectives on Global and Local Priorities, edited by A.A. Aguirre and R. Sukumar, pp. 7-28. New York: Oxford University Press.
    • Gorenflo, L.J., Romaine, S., Musinsky, S., Denil, M., and Mittermeier, R.A. (2014). Linguistic Diversity in High Biodiversity Regions. Arlington, VA: Conservation International.
    • Cincotta, R. and Gorenflo, L.J., eds. (2011). Human Population. Its Influences on Biodiversity. Berlin: Springer.

    Selected Journal Articles

    Selected Presentations

    • Gorenflo, L.J., (2023). The Central Role of Indigenous Language and Culture in Biodiversity Conservation. Plenary presentation to The Peace Corps 2023 Language Week (invited).
    • Gorenflo, L.J., (2022). Participant in the Language Pathways to Conservation Policy and Practice Roundtable. Presentation and response to questions in the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (roundtable organize by UNESCO Canada), Montreal, Canada, December, 2022 (invited).
    • Gorenflo, L.J. (2022). Recollections on the Career and Life of Jeffrey R. Parsons. Paper presented at the 87th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Chicago, IL, April 2022 (invited).
    • Gorenflo, L.J., Nichols, D.L., Robertson, I.G. (2022). The Basin of Mexico: Revisiting Prehispanic Population. Paper presented at the Amerind Foundation Seminar on Mesoamerican Population History, virtual, April 2022 (invited).
    • Gorenflo, L.J., Nichols, D.L., Robertson, I.G. (2021). Jeffrey Parsons, Archaeological Settlement Survey, and the Regional Demography of the Prehispanic Basin of Mexico. Paper presented at the Homenaje al Dr. Jeffrey Parsons, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, México, virtual, June 2021 (invited).
    • Robertson, I.G., Nichols, D.L., and Gorenflo, L.J. (2021). The Basin of Mexico: Prehispanic Population History. Paper presented at the 86th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, virtual, April 2021 (invited).
    • Gorenflo, L.J., (2019). Housing Construction, Brickmaking, and Fuelwood Use in Rural South-Central Tanzania: Implications for Biodiversity Conservation. Paper presented at the 10th International Conference of the African Materials Research Society, Arusha, Tanzania, December, 2019 (invited).
  • Service + Affiliations