Senior Student Associate
Design Excellence, Badlands Centennial Studio | Fall 2015
Rudy J. Favretti Historic Landscape Fellow | 2017
P.E.O. Scholar | 2019

Kathleen is a doctoral candidate in Architecture and Historic Preservation and is currently writing her dissertation exploring issues of race and representation in preservation. She began her doctoral training as a historian, expanding into historic preservation after seeing how history can be used to preserve communities alongside built and natural environments. Proficient in Russian and Kazakh, her research spans across the Americas and the former Soviet Union, focusing on how to preserve and interpret places of “difficult heritage”—sites of trauma, contested history, or atrocities.

With UT’s Preservation Studio, Kathleen traveled to Badlands National Park to develop a framework to better preserve and interpret its cultural landscape. Her team won the Design Excellence Award for their project to rehabilitate the historic Mission 66 visitor center. She has held fellowships with the U.S. Department of Education, the Center for Sustainable Development (CSD), the National Park Service (NPS), and the Garden Club of Virginia (GCV). At the CSD, Kathleen worked with the Texas Department of State Health Services to investigate how historic buildings and landscapes could transform patient care in modern psychiatric hospitals. She later worked with the NPS to develop new treatment options to protect cultural landscapes at risk of disasters resulting from climate change, such as rising sea waters and increased wildfires. Through the GCV’s Rudy Favretti Historic Landscape Fellowship, Kathleen started her dissertation research in Virginia, studying the cultural, sociological, historical, and ecological complexities of preserving and interpreting a plantation. In 2019, Kathleen received a P.E.O. Scholar Award to support her dissertation research. 

She continues to practice in the field through working as a historian and architectural historian at HHM & Associates. Kathleen consults on projects across the country and serves on the Consultants Committee for the National Council on Public History.


  • PhD Student, Architecture, The University of Texas at Austin
  • MS, Historic Preservation, The University of Texas at Austin
  • PhD Candidate, History, The University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • MA, Russian and East European Studies, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • BA, History, Randolph College


Book Chapters
“‘Not a Work of Art but a Piece of Life’: History and Realism in the Time of Tolstoy.” In Critical Insights: Leo Tolstoy, edited by Rachel Stauffer. New York: Grey House Publishing. 2017.
“‘My Country is Russian Literature’: History and Literary Development in the Golden Age.” In Critical Insights: Russia’s Golden Age, edited by Rachel Stauffer. New York: Grey House Publishing. 2014.
“The National D-Day Memorial and the Dilemma of American Memory.” Lynch’s Ferry, Spring 2012: 4-15.

Select Professional Reports

  • Historic Context Study of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit (HART) Rail Line, Honolulu County, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i (in progress).
  • Design Guidelines for Port Arthur, Texas (2019).
  • Historic Resource Survey for Mineral Wells, Texas (2018).
  • Lower Waller Creek Historic Context Study, Waller Creek Conservancy (2018).
  • Preservation Plan for City of Plano and Historic Resources Survey of Haggard Park Historic District in Plano, Texas (2018).
  • Brownsville Historic Resources Survey and National Register District Nomination, Brownsville, Texas (2018).
  • Historic American Building Survey (HABS): Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Employee Residences #6 and #8 (2017).
photo of Kathleen Conti