about me

I was born in Moscow, Russia. After school I studied at Moscow State Pedagogical University all the way to Ph.D. in Economic and Social Geography in 1985. Most of my geography career is connected with geographical education. I taught a number of courses at a high school and then at a university including World Economic Geography, World Physical Geography, Geography of Population, Technology and Economic Development, Methods of Teaching Geography, etc. In 1987 I was a guest speaker at a University of London Institute of Education, and a year later BBC educational channel interviewed me in Moscow, attended my classes to feature me in their program. I have a number of awards and recognitions from the USSR Ministry of Education for Creative Teaching.

Having grown up behind the iron curtain in the time of the Cold War I had always been curious about the world beyond the boundaries I had to stay in. That was one of the reasons I chose to study at a Geography Department. However it was English (my minor) that helped me experience people and places by launching a parallel career in interpreting. In the evening I attended a school for interpreters and tour guides that gave me a legal opportunity to meet people from all over the world that traveled to Russia, see various parts of my own country with them, and subsequently many other countries of the world. I had a chance to meet many outstanding personalities of the 20th century.

For some period of my career I concentrated on the research in the field of migration and urban population redistribution. Early on in my research I read the works of Dr. Brian Berry, which influenced my interests. I consider myself to be one of his students. Having analyzed the causes of growth of small towns in nonmetropolitan areas I proposed a number of measures to the USSR State Planning Committee to revitalize dying small town communities across Russia. In the course of research in 1980s I have had nine publications in scientific journals and books as well as an opportunity to present the findings at an international conference on Pacific Rim Development in Nakhodka (Russian Far East).

In 1992 I was offered a position of an aide and interpreter to a resident representative (ambassador) of the International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank Group that was in the process of establishing an office in Moscow to open the flow of private investments into Russian economy. I had an opportunity to be a part of a historical transition from command to market economy in the largest country in the world. I was involved in such projects as privatization of state property, mitigation of oil spills in the Russian Arctic, bringing Russian energy sector accounting system up to the world standards, and in a number of smaller projects. That was a time of intense on-site work that included a lot of travel.

In 1995 my life took another sharp turn. I won the Green Card Lottery and my family agreed to plunge in an adventure of moving to the United States leaving comfortable life in post Soviet Russia behind. Since 1999 I resumed teaching geography again, first at Collin, then at Richland Colleges and University of Texas at Dallas. In 2004 I got a Certificate for completing one semester of required training at Academy of Associate Faculty at CCCCD.

Member of Association of American Geographers.
Member of American Translators Association.
Member of Multicultural Roundtable Committee of the City of Plano.
I am married and have a son and a daughter. I live in Plano, Texas.

contact info

Mail Address:
Dr. Irina Vakulenko
University of Texas at Dallas
800 W. Campbell Rd
Richardson, Texas 75080-3021