Paul Starrs, PhD

Regents & Foundation Distinguished Professor

Contact Information


  • University of California at Berkeley Ph.D. 1989 Geography
  • University of California at Berkeley M.A. 1984 Geography
  • University of California at San Diego B.A. 1980 Special Studies: Utopian Communities
  • Deep Springs College, California 1975–1977


Professor Paul Starrs teaches cultural and historical geography at the University of Nevada, in Reno, where he works on a variety of topics associated with the geography of the so-called "New West."

His first book, Let the Cowboy Ride, was published by John Hopkins University Press in 1998. He has published some 90 articles, book chapters, and reviews on topics that include cyberspace, everyday landscapes, migration and the evolution of the Great Basin, urban geography, and a suite of resource-based issues.

Starrs also does research on the woodlands and people of Mediterranean Europe, and has coauthored the book, Black Rock, with his Nevada colleague, the photographer Peter Goin, about the Black Rock country of northwestern Nevada, home to the annual Burning Man event. He is currently engaged with several additional book-length projects. Though city born and raised, he maintains an enduring affection for the West's many rural places.

Research Areas of Interest

Cultural and historical geography, the American West, graphic representation, regional geography, natural resources and population

Career Recognition / Award

Foundation Professorship, 2007, title and award, Foundation Professor of Geography.

CASE-Carnegie Foundation Nevada Professor of the Year, 2005, National award for teaching excellence.

Regents Teaching Award, 2004; (Nevada System of Higher Education) system-wide award for excellence in teaching.

F. Donald Tibbitts University Outstanding Teacher Award, University of Nevada, University of Nevada, Reno, 2000-2001.

Mousel-Feltner Award for Outstanding Research, Recipient of College of Arts & Science outstanding researcher award, University of Nevada, Reno, 1998-1999.

Alan Bible Outstanding Teaching Award, College of Arts & Science, University of Nevada, Reno, 1997-1998.

Fulbright Scholar, Senior Fulbright Scholar: Quincentenary Postdoctoral Researcher in Spain.

Class Materials

Courses Taught
Introduction to Cultural Geography, Research Methods, Geographic Thought, Historical Geography, The American West, Nevada, Cartography, Advanced Cartography, Seminar in Cultural Geography, Geography & Film, Europe, North America [undergraduate courses]

Field Methods, Historical Geography, Cultural Geography [graduate], Cartography & Graphic Representation, History and Nature of Geograp


Selected Publications

Paul F. Starrs, "Meetinghouses in the Mormon Mind: Ideology, Architecture, and the Turbulent Streams of an Expanding Church,” Geographical Review, July 2009, 99 (3): 323-355. [scholarly article]

Paul F. Starrs, "On Rock Art & The Perception of Life," In Nevada Rock Art, by Peter Goin, pp. 42-73, Reno, Nevada: Black Rock Institute Press. [book chapter]

Paul F. Starrs, "Picturing California & The West: The ‘Competent Vaquero,' Ed Borein,” In Coloring the West: Watercolors and Oils by Edward Borein, pp. 5-23 (Santa Barbara, California: Santa Barbara Historical Museum Diamond Jubilee, 2007).

Paul F. Starrs, "When the Dozers Came, Only Music Was Left: Ry Cooder on Chávez Ravine,” Geographical Review, 97 (3): 404-417, 2007. [scholarly article]

Paul F. Starrs (with Peter Goin), Black Rock (Reno: University of Nevada Press; 2005).
Graduate Student Theses / Dissertations Supervised

Wheeler, Candace. The Comstock Cemeteries: Changing Landscapes of Death. MS Geography, 2008, 187 pages.

Grace, Pamela Lynne Lewiston. Cathouses on a Hot Tin Roof? Legal Prostitution and Urban Growth in Washoe and Storey Counties, Nevada. MS Land Use Planning Policy, 2008, 104 pages.

Clarke Munnerlyn, Stacey. Sweet Prospects: Organic Ice Cream in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, MS Geography, 2007, 108 pages.

Gushue, Stephen. From Eden to an Endless Subdivision: Cultural Explorations into the Emerging Coyote Springs Landscape, MS Geography, 2007, 129 pages. Lohry, Jerome L. The View from Here: The 1841 Bidwell-Bartelson Party Perception of the Emigrant Trail, MS Geography, 2007, 122 pages, UMI-AAT 1442851.

Jimenez, Ethan E. Good Phở Business: A Socio-Spatial Analysis of Reno, Nevada's Vietnamese Community, MS Geography, 2007, 118 pages, UMI-AAT 1442873.

Ferranto, Shasta. Conservation of Mule Deer in the Eastern Sierra Nevada. MS, Geography, 2006, 165 pages. UMI-AAT 1438913

Barron, Patrick. Between Lama dei Peligni and Colledimacine: A Regional Geography (of Boundaries) of the Majella Massif and Aventino Valley, Abruzzo, Italy. MS, Geography, 2004, 363 pages. UMI-AAT 1423374

Hall, Stephen L. Utah in Nevada: Expected and Abberant Landscapes in the Mormon Village of Panaca, Nevada. MS, Geography, 2004, 150 pages. UMI-AAT 1425294

MacDonald, Kristin Selinder. Hollywood North: An Examination of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, as a Surrogate Place in United States Location Filmmaking. MS, Geography, 2003, 115 pages. UMI-AAT 1414438

Gillis, Christopher Allan. Landscapes along the Road: A View of Historical Geography along US 395. MS, Geography, 2002, 115 pages. UMI-AAT 1410227

Baines, Elizabeth Anne. Mortality and Migration: A Study of the Comstock Lode. MS, Geography, 2000, 70 pages. UMI-AAT 1402348

Fielder, Aaron Franklin. Unsettling of the West: The Demise of Cities in Washoe County, Nevada, 1845-1945. MS, Land Use Planning Policy, 2000, 463 pages. UMI-AAT 1402335

Friedsam, Barbara L. Running Wild: Moab, Utah, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. MS, Geography, 1999, 139 pages. UMI-AAT 1398537

Hennecke, Cynthia. Downstream Water Quality Standards and Upstream Discharges under the Clean Water Act. MS, Geography, 1998, 115 pages. UMI-AAT 1389861

Hess, Ronald H. Procedure to Update Transportation Map of the Bedell Flat, Nevada, Quadrangle from High-Resolution Satellite Imagery. MS, Geography, 1998, 50 pages. UMI-AAT 1393052.