Eric Avila is a professor in the departments of History, Chicana/o Studies, and Urban Planning at UCLA and current holder of the Waldo W. Neikirk Chair for undergraduate education innovation (2021-2024). He is a twentieth-century U.S. urban historian, whose research and teaching emphasizes race and ethnicity, cultural expression, and the built environment. He earned a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in History from U.C. Berkeley and is the author of three books, Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles (University of California Press, 2004), The Folklore of the Freeway: Race and Revolt in the Modernist City (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), and American Cultural History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2018). His forthcoming publication is a co-edited anthology, Segregation and Resistance in the Landscapes of the Americas (Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University), and he is currently working to complete a new book project, focused on the social and cultural history of Los Angeles between 1965 and 1992.

At UCLA, Professor Avila has a record of administrative leadership. He served as Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA from 2014 to 2016 and between 2016 and 2020, he led the Cesar E. Chavez Department of Chicana/o and Central American Studies as department chair. At a public-facing institution like UCLA, he has geared his teaching mission towards a focus on the history and geography of Los Angeles, and the formation of its diverse communities. He is a national expert in the history of American culture and his research has fueled national discussion about the historical relationship between race, urbanization and infrastructural development. He interviews frequently for national news outlets like the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the New York Times, USA Today, National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). He recently appeared in a four-part documentary series for CNN, The History of American Style. 


Allison Carruth
Department: English; Institute for Society and Genetic; Institute of the Environment and Sustainability Neikirk Project: Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies
Jan Reiff
Department: History Neikirk Project: Technology innovation in the teaching of Humanities
Rob Watson 
Department: English; Institute of the Environment and Sustainability Neikirk Project: Literature and the Environment