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Ph.D. in Urban Planning

Maureen Abi Ghanem
Hyn Hye (Cathy) Bae
Bernadette Baird-Zars
Bernadette Baird-Zars’ current work at GSAPP identifies new arenas for local land development interventions under conditions of high risk and uncertainty, using satellite/spatial analyses, regression discontinuity designs, and institutional methodologies and visualizations. Her dissertation will be three articles on how city governments use recently decentralized land management powers in Latin America and the Arab world. Bernadette deeply enjoys collaborations, and currently has publications in development with colleagues at Columbia UP on zoning and planning, zoning relief in NYC, institutional analysis for planning, language urbanism, and planning and violence. Bernadette is also a partner at Alarife Urban Associates. Her past clients include the Inter- American Development Bank, the World Bank, Habitat for Humanity International, Infonavit and Harvard GSD and local governments on projects across the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and SE Asia.
Jenna Davis

Jenna Davis is a PhD student in urban planning at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation with research interests in gentrification, land use and zoning policy, and spatial analysis. Her current research examines how public sector interventions shape neighborhood change in U.S. cities. Prior to her doctoral studies, Jenna worked as a policy analyst at the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness, where she contributed to research projects examining educational outcomes among homeless students enrolled in the New York City public school system. Jenna also worked at the Citizens Budget Commission, conducting research on property tax reform in New York City. Jenna holds a master’s degree in regional planning from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Barnard College, Columbia University.

Contact Jenna Davis: jmd2218@columbia.edu

Jenna Dublin
Contact Jenna Dublin.
Jonathan English

Jonathan English’s dissertation examines the history of transit policy in Toronto, as well as in peer American cities, to examine places where transit has attracted significant ridership despite a postwar suburban built form. He has a Dual MA/MSc in International and World History from Columbia University and the London School of Economics, as well as a BA in International Relations and Urban Studies from the University of Toronto. He has written numerous articles for publications including CityLab, the Globe and Mail, City+State New York, and others. Many of his articles examine contemporary planning issues from a historical perspective. He has been interviewed and his research has been cited by publications including The New York Times, Wired, WNYC, Gothamist, The Atlantic, CBC Radio, Wisconsin Public Radio, Urban Transport of China, and others. His active consulting practice has clients in the public, labour, technology, film, and non-profit sectors. He has advised senior public officials, particularly on transportation and infrastructure issues. He has also worked with activist and community groups to support their efforts to improve public transit.

Contact Jonathan English at jje2111@columbia.edu.

Tyler Haupert
Tyler Haupert is a second-year urban planning doctoral student at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Tyler holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Pepperdine University and a Master in Urban Planning degree from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. His research focuses on the legal and regulatory mechanisms contributing to racial segregation and exclusion in the United States, with a particular interest in housing policy, public education, and criminal justice. Prior to pursuing an academic career, Tyler gained professional experience in the public education and affordable housing development sectors.
Joseph Weil Huennekens

Joseph Weil Huennekens is a PhD candidate in urban planning with research interests in changing suburbs, land use conflict, exclusionary zoning, and planning practice. In his doctoral research, he hopes to investigate how nonnormative suburban groups navigate land use regulatory bodies to shape the built environment. Prior to coming to Columbia GSAPP, Joe worked as a borough planner for the NYC Department of City Planning and a program manager at the Design Trust for Public Space. He holds a B.S in Architecture from the University of Virginia and a Masters in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania. A native of the Washington D.C. area, Joe has moved progressively northward: living in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and now, Upper Manhattan.

Contact Joseph Huennekens at jsh2228@columbia.edu.

Sophonie Milande Joseph
Sophonie Milande Joseph is a Ph.D. Candidate in Urban Planning at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) in New York City. Her doctoral research is focused on the diffusion of traveling planning ideas in Haiti. Her areas of specialization include: international planning, transnationalism and diaspora studies. From 2013-2015, she lived and worked in rural and urban Haiti as she completed her ethnographic, field research on international aid and development planning. Such research outputs inform her peer-reviewed, article: “Trust and Hometown Associations in Haitian Post-Earthquake Reconstruction” in the Journal of International Migration. She also continues to use her women’s and gender studies lens to co-write articles such as “Haitian Women’s Experiences of Recovery from Hurricane Matthew” for the Brazilian Igarapé Institute. She has over 10 years’ experience as an applied researcher with a focus on community development; diaspora’s collective remittances; and intersectionality within the planning discipline. A proven ability to evaluate, aggregate, and synthesize data and information about programs and policies while identifying areas in need of improvement. Sophonie is proactive, flexible and a self-reliant individual with superior writing and editing skills. Possessing an in-depth understanding of Public Policy, Social Justice Advocacy, and Diversity in Higher Education needs. Extensive experience preparing reports in tabular, graphic, or narrative formats, and presenting information at conferences and in public forums. Knowledge of best practices, processes, and operations. Capable of handling sensitive information in a confidential manner. Her objective in all her professional endeavors is to provide Scholarship in Service to Society.
Gayatri Kawlra
Younghyun Kim
Contact Younghyun Kim.
Magda Maaoui

Magda Maaoui is a PhD Student in Urban Planning at Columbia GSAPP. Her research interests focus on housing policy, real estate development, urban history, community planning and spatial justice. Her current focus is on the evaluation and comparison of housing policy programs in American and French metropolitan areas, in how they perpetuate - even exacerbate - existing logics of inequality and poverty. ​ With a global academic and professional experience acquired in Europe (France, Denmark), Africa (Algeria, Senegal) and the Americas (United States, Costa Rica), projects she worked on range from sustainable policy to education, community planning and neighborhood revitalization. Magda is registered in France as a civil servant (2010) with research and teaching credentials. She is also a Fulbright Fellow (2016). She received a Bachelor in Geography and Planning from the Université Lyon II Lumière, and a Masters in Geography and Planning from the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon. She held a Visiting position at UC Berkeley during her Masters training.

Selected publications

  • Maaoui, Magda. “The biopolis : quand Harvard et le CRI réinventent la ville de Paris”, Pop-Up Urbain, Décembre 2016.
  • Maaoui, Magda. “Oakland après Jerry Brown : une ville entre "renaissance urbaine” et ambitions politiques", Revue Urbanités : Les villes américaines de l'ère Obama, Octobre 2016.
  • Maaoui, Magda. “East Palo Alto: un ghetto périurbain, espace de la relégation dans la Silicon Valley”, Revue Urbanités: Chroniques, May 2015.
  • Maaoui, Magda. “Housing Transitions: The Tour de France of Construction”, URBAN Magazine, Columbia University GSAPP: Volume 22, Spring 2016.
  • Maaoui, Magda, Terplan, Egon. “Four Plans That Shaped Downtown Oakland’s First 100 Years”, SPUR The Urbanist Magazine, Issue 540, February 2015.
  • Maaoui, Magda. “For Greater Spatial Justice: the State of Micro-local Citizen Participation Processes”, URBAN Magazine, Columbia University GSAPP: Volume 20, Spring 2015.
Elizabeth Marcello
A Louisiana native, Elizabeth Marcello earned a BA from University of California-Santa Cruz and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). Prior to entering GSAPP, Elizabeth worked in Nairobi, Kenya on issues related to metropolitan planning, government accountability, and participatory planning with Columbia’s Earth Institute. Most recently, Elizabeth worked locally, managing campaigns for a good government group that works for a more transparent and accountable New York State government. Broadly interested in politics and power, Elizabeth’s research focuses on the discretionary regulations and policy tools that govern economic development planning. Elizabeth loves a good political scandal and in her spare time she races bikes with a New York City-based team.
Deepa Mehta
Deepa Mehta’s research examines how trade policies, technological change, and shifting labor regimes interact and impact how regional production networks are planned and regulated in Asia’s rapidly industrializing countries. Transformations in industrial production make transparent the evolutions in regulatory capabilities and economic governance which, in turn, give shape to multiscalar spatial restructuring and lay bare entirely new contexts, boundaries, and rationalities for economic development planning. To understand this emergence, I study transnational economic development corridors through the case of Shenzhen, China’s electronics manufacturing center, and its proximity to Hong Kong, its primary investment hub, economic development zoning through the case of India’s special economic zones and smart cities, and emergent forms of industrial organization through the case of the regional value chain of an Asian textiles manufacturing firm. These case studies hope to elucidate the multiple ways in which Asia’s industrial production assemblages are not only giving way to new forms of transnational urbanization as well as to calls for new planning protocols, but are demonstrating historically unprecedented development patterns.
Deepa Mehta is a PhD student in Urban Planning at Columbia University. Her work focuses on the relationship between economic development planning, science and technology, and industrial policy in India and China within the context of SAARC and ASEAN, respectively. She is interested in the evolution of the legal and economic parameters that continuously shape the industrial complex in rapidly industrializing countries, and in identifying the spatial consequences and planning imperatives of these changes. Prior to starting her doctoral studies, Deepa completed her Masters in Urban Planning from Columbia University, where she focused on the institutional innovations in present-day industrial production networks in traditional architecture in Yemen that allow for historical industries to remain viable tracing back to Yemen’s central role in the Indian Ocean trade. Her work was supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Before returning to Columbia, Deepa worked with professional firms to plan and design cultural and educational institutions, with a futures think tank to research the urban, social, and economic implications of emerging technologies, and with a university to manage a multi-year scholarly project on Indian cities.
Minh Nguyen
Minh Nguyen received his Master of Public Policy (2017) and BA in Political Science (2012) from the University of California, Berkeley. His interests are in public policy, affordable housing, and inequality. At Berkeley, Minh was a graduate student instructor (GSI) for two courses, Wealth and Poverty, with Prof. Robert Reich, and Global Poverty and Practice, started by Prof. Ananya Roy. Previously, Minh worked with HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research, where he examined the educational outcomes of housing subsidy recipients; he was also on a consulting team that helped Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) with their park-and-ride plans. Before his master’s program, he worked at Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco, where he examined demographic data for affordable housing applicants. Minh was also an AmeriCorps volunteer for two years, during which time he helped start a Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative in San Francisco, and he was a construction volunteer in Seattle, Des Moines, and Oakland. Minh has spent a few months in Vietnam, working in his grandparents’ hometown as a development intern; he hopes to return for future projects. Minh’s research will focus on poverty and inequality, urban history, industry and labor change, and gentrification and displacement. His email is mqn2103@columbia.edu.
Stefan Norgaard

Stefan Norgaard’s evolving research interests lie at the intersection of political economy, urban governance, and social justice. Stefan is passionate about participatory democratic practice, and particularly how cities’ public/private arrangements affect equitable development outcomes. Stefan plans to examine world-historical and political-economy dimensions of urbanization in specific geographies created by the apartheid South African government: the peri-urban township, the Bantustan, and large-scale agro-industrial farming. Prior to his PhD at Columbia, Stefan worked with the New York City Department of Transportation on public space planning and design, and on the Ford Foundation’s Equitable Development team, focusing on housing insecurity, access to opportunity, and equitable urban infrastructure. He has also worked at the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, OECD, and U.S. Department of State. He holds a Master’s in Public Policy degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies and Public Policy from Stanford University.

Contact Stefan Norgaard.

Jung Eun Park
Contact Jung Eun Park.
Danielle Petretta
Rosalie Ray

Rosalie Singerman Ray is a PhD Candidate in urban planning at Columbia University and a student affiliate at the Center for Sustainable Urban Development. She was also a visiting fellow at the Centre for European Studies and Comparative Politics at SciencesPo in Spring 2019 while completing her dissertation research. Rosalie’s dissertation analyzes bus lane network expansion in London and Paris to illustrate the institutional changes needed to shift toward just, sustainable transport. Her past research has explored the effects of transit construction on local businesses and community displacement, documented how city transportation departments and transit agencies collaborate to prioritize buses, and assessed the prospect of fare-free transit in the United States. In her spare time, she organizes with the Graduate Workers of Columbia and attempts to intervene in the deliberative system of NYC transportation.

Contact Rosalie Ray at rsr2150@columbia.edu.

Michael Snidal
Valerie Stahl
Displacement without Displacement: Tenant Engagement in NYCHA’s NextGeneration Neighborhoods Plan

How do existing tenants process ‘displacement without displacement’ when a housing authority plans for socially mixed units around existing subsidized housing? In 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced NextGeneration NYCHA, which presents the opportunity to observe how current residents are included in such a contested planning process. The 10-year proposal intends to fill the agency’s $17 billion capital budget shortfall and revitalize the city’s distressed public housing through a series of predominantly privately financed initiatives. The most controversial component of the plan includes leasing ‘underutilized’ land adjacent to existing public housing to private developers, who will be responsible for constructing and managing mixed-income, mixed-use developments on NYCHA playgrounds, parking lots, and green spaces. While NYCHA officials are assuring existing residents that the plan will not result in any direct residential displacement, current tenants have already expressed skepticism towards the inevitable changes that will come with the private construction of over 3,500 market-rate apartments (New York City Housing Authority 2016; Smith 2015). Through a multi-site qualitative study, this dissertation will evaluate the planning and tenant engagement processes behind NextGeneration NYCHA to inquire how existing residents perceive, contribute to, and resist the plan.
To evaluate the community planning process at 2 designated NextGeneration NYCHA locations and to chronicle the experience of residents who will remain in the housing development throughout the plan, I will attend stakeholder meetings, observe planning charrettes, and conduct semi-structured resident interviews. Practically, observing NexGeneration’s ‘displacement without displacement’ model will allow me to spotlight the experience of existing residents who remain in place as their neighborhoods change. Theoretically, the dissertation will touch upon a number of issues, including, a) how residents reflect on secondary forms of economic, cultural or political displacement accompanying the plan, b) the influence of community engagement in the planning process on outcomes for low-income residents, and c) tenant perceptions of NextGeneration NYCHA in relation to broader changes in urban development patterns, such as the decline of the welfare state, gentrification, and financialization.

Valerie Stahl is a PhD student in Urban Planning at Columbia University. She uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to study the impacts of affordable housing, neighborhood-level policy, and zoning plans on low-income residents of large U.S. cities. Prior to starting her PhD, Valerie headed development and events at the Institute for Policy Integrity, an environmental policy institute at NYU School of Law. Previously, she was a Policy Development and Research (PD&R) fellow at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office for International and Philanthropic Innovation in Washington, D.C. Valerie holds a bachelor’s degree in Social and Cultural Analysis from New York University and a master’s degree in Urban Affairs from Sciences Po Paris.

Siobhan Watson
Wenfei Xu

Wenfei Xu is an urban planner, data scientist, and designer whose research uses data-driven methods to understand the geographies of urban inequality. Her current project investigates the historical impacts and contemporary socio-spatial legacies of redlining practices in American cities. Wenfei has worked in data and design organizations including the Civic Data Design Lab, Stamen Design and Senseable Cities Lab at MIT. Her previous projects address housing vacancy in China using crowd-sourced data, informal commerce and cultural identities in ethnic communities in Los Angeles, citizen-driven pollution documentation in China, network effects of governmental and non-governmental organizations in Latin America, and informal transit in Nairobi. In her spare time, she makes ceramics and tries to keep her plants alive.

Contact Wenfei Xu: wx2133@columbia.edu.



Lauren Ames Fischer

The Transport Planning Process: A Political and Institutional Analysis
Advisor: David Andrew King

Linying He

Microfinance Assemblage in China: Production, Maintenance, Transformation and Deterioration
Advisor: Robert Beauregard

Yunjing Li

Anti-Carbonism or Carbon Exceptionalism: A Discursive Project of Low-Carbon City in Shenzhen, China
Advisor: Elliott Sclar

Maiko Nishi

Multi-Level Governance of Agricultural Land in Japan: Farmers’ Perspectives and Responses to Farmland Banking
Advisor: Robert Beauregard

Matteo Stiglich

City Unplanning: The Techno-Political Economy of Privately-Financed Highways in Lima
Advisor: Elliott Sclar


Amanda Bradshaw

Electricity Market Reforms and Renewable Energy: The Case of Wind and Solar in Brazil
Advisor: Robert Beauregard

Marie-Adele Cassola

Planning for Equitable Neighborhood Change: A Mixed-Methods Analysis of 80 Cities’ Displacement Mitigation Approaches
Advisor: Lance Freeman

Jonas Xaver Hagen

Calming New York: An Examination of Neighborhood Slow Zones
Advisor: Lance Freeman

Xiaohong Pan

Essays on Aging Americans’ Travel Preferences: Behavioral Survey Analyses
Advisor: Lance Freeman


Eric Goldwyn

An Informal Transit System Hiding in Plain Sight: Brooklyn’s Dollar Vans and Transportation Planning and Policy in New York City
Advisor: David King

Julie Touber

Institutional Resilience and Informality: The Case of Land Rights Mechanisms in Greater Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Advisor: Robert Beauregard

John West

The Rule of Choice: How Economic Theories from the 1950s Became Technologically Embedded, Politically Contested Urban Policy in New York City from 2002-2013
Advisor: Robert Beauregard


Alexis Perrotta

How the Poor Afford Public Transportation: The Case of New York City
Advisor: Eliott Sclar

Ingrid Olivo

Reconstructing Early Modern Disaster Management in Puerto Rico: Development and Planning Examined Through the Lens of Hurricane San Ciriaco (1899), San Felipe (1928), and Santa Clara (1956)
Advisor: Jorge Otero-Pailos

Dory Kornfeld

Food Access in Brooklyn: Environmental Justice Meets Biopower
Advisor: Robert Beauregard

Justin Steil

Democracy and Discrimination: Property, Networks, and Local Immigration Regulation
Advisor: Peter Marcuse


Oyebank Oyeyinka

Industrialization Pathways to Human Development: Industrial Clusters, Institutions, and Poverty in Nigeria
Advisor: Smita Srinivas


Andrea Rizvi

Bus Rapid Transit Planning Processes in Delhi and Ahmedabad
Advisor: Elliott Sclar


John Powers

Un-traded Interdependencies as a Useful Theory of Regional Economic Development: A Comparative Study of Innovation in Dublin and Beijing
Advisor: Susan Fainstein (Retired)

James Connolly

Institutional Change in Urban Environmentalism: A Case Study Analysis of State-Level Land Use Legislation in California and New York
Advisor: Robert Beauregard

Shagun Mehrotra

Reinventing Infrastructure Economics: Theory and Empirics
Advisor: Hans Smit (Law School)


Johannes Novy

Marketing Marginalized Neighborhoods: Tourism and Leisure in the 21st Century
Advisor: Susan Fainstein (Harvard University, GSD)

Constantine Kontokosta

The Political Economy of Inclusionary Zoning: Adoption, Implementation, and Neighborhood Effects   Advisor: Lance Freeman

Padmini Biswas

Strategic Parallels: A Class Comparison of South Asian American Immigrant Labor Organizing
Advisor: Peter Marcuse


James Potter

Boxed In: How Intermodalism Enabled Destructive Interport Competition  Advisor: Peter Marcuse

Erica Svendsen

Civic Environmental Stewardship as a Form of Governance in New York City
Advisor: Dana Fisher (Sociology)

Joyce Klein Rosenthal

Evaluating the Impact of the Urban Heat Island on Public Health: Spatial and Social Determinants of Heat-Related Health Outcomes in New York City 
Advisor: Elliott Sclar


Matthew Gephardt

Politics, Planning, and Power: Reorganizing and Redeveloping Public Housing in Chicago, Illinois  Advisor: Susan Fainstein

Lei Wang

Understanding Foreign Direct Investment in the Context of Entrepreneurial China
Advisor: Elliott Sclar

Milena Gomez

New Doors to Development: Remittances and the Housing Industry in Colombia
Advisor: Elliott Sclar