Students and Research

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.
Amanda Bradshaw
Good Regulation in the Tropics: Renewable Energy Policy and Electricity Market Reforms in Brazil
This dissertation examines the relationship between electricity market reforms and the development of renewable energy in Brazil. The Brazilian electricity sector represents an interesting case of an industrializing country that is distinguished by centralized state involvement and a strong reliance on hydroelectric power, followed by natural gas and coal. Conventional explanations of the country’s scant use of wind and solar energy have centered on cost. In contrast, this dissertation draws on insights from the literature on socio-technical systems and energy transitions to argue that the pre-existing hydropower infrastructure, both physical and institutional, has created important constraints on the adoption of alternative forms of energy. Against this backdrop, it examines the factors that have enabled the share of wind and solar in the Brazilian energy supply. A central focus lies with the role of regulations and regulatory agencies that were created to govern the electricity sector following privatization reforms. In particular, it is demonstrated that energy regulators have undertaken innovative approaches to encourage the use of renewable energy. This dissertation further examines the contribution of three state governments in developing and deploying wind and solar energy technologies. This study conducted 53 semi-structured, face-to-face interviews with policymakers, energy experts, and industry representatives in Brazil.
Amanda Bradshaw has an M.A. in Latin American studies from Columbia University, and a B.A. in economics and applied mathematics from UC Berkeley. Her research has been published in peer- reviewed journals such as Utilities Policy, Energy Policy, and the Journal of Infrastructure Systems. From 2016-2017, she was a Visiting Researcher and U.S. Fulbright Scholar in the Graduate Program in Energy Planning at the University of Campinas (Unicamp), located in São Paulo, Brazil. Her research and policy interests focus on the transition to more renewable sources of energy, and how regional and national governments face the challenge of adapting the electricity grid to sustain increases in wind and solar.
Adèle Cassola
Planning for Equitable Neighborhood Change: A Mixed-Methods Analysis of 80 Cities
Municipal governments across the U.S. are struggling to keep housing and services affordable for low-income households when neighborhood conditions improve in previously disinvested areas. Amid decreased federal funding for affordable housing and increased local dependence on property taxes and private investment, municipal governments’ policy options to mitigate displacement are limited. Nonetheless, numerous cities have introduced equitable development policies that support low-income residents’ opportunities to remain in place and participate in shaping their community’s future as their neighborhoods experience reinvestment or redevelopment. This dissertation systematically documents the displacement mitigation policies used in 80 of the most populous U.S. cities, analyzes the conditions that motivate and facilitate their adoption, and examines how policymakers navigate the trade-offs between promoting investment and protecting existing residents’ stake in the neighborhood. The study uses a sequential mixed-methods approach involving an original survey of housing and planning directors, a comprehensive review of plans and policy documents, multivariate analysis of survey responses and census data, and in-depth interviews with city officials. The findings will elucidate local governments’ space for progressive policy action in an era of fiscal constraint and provide a novel resource detailing the equitable development approaches used in cities with diverse contexts.
Adèle Cassola is a Ph.D. candidate in Urban Planning. She previously earned her M.Sc. in City Design and Social Science from the London School of Economics and her B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Toronto. She has considerable experience conducting community-based and comparative social policy research, including with the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University, the WORLD Policy Analysis Center at UCLA, the Center for Research on Inner City Health in Toronto, and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development in New York City. She has also taught at the State University of New York’s Center for Labor Studies. Her research interests center on the capacity for city-level policies to increase the rights and opportunities of low-income households, particularly in the realms of housing and health.
Lauren Ames Fischer
Modern Streetcars in U.S. Cities: Institutional Innovations and Pitfalls
Progressive ideas about land use and transportation (i.e. higher density, less parking, more active and collective modes of transport) face substantial barriers to implementation in mid-size American cities. Over the last decade, however, an increasing number of these urban areas have turned to modern streetcar systems as a solution to achieving the progressive ideals articulated in their regional and local planning documents. This dissertation looks at the implementation of modern streetcar projects to identify the institutional barriers faced by local actors and the innovations being crafted to overcome them. Key barriers identified by local implementers include (1) federal funding schemes that do not encourage the integration of land use and transportation, (2) state laws about taxation and public financing, (3) state policies on the use and purpose of economic development subsidies, (4) resistance to lower parking and higher density developments from private lending institutions and (5) an entrenched sentiment among elected officials and the public that collective transport is only a social service for the poor. Institutional innovations crafted to overcome these barriers include the creation of a new financing mechanisms for public transit, the establishment of a new governing bodies for public transit, leveraging existing economic development tools for new purposes and changing the public discourse to emphasize the economic transformation and placemaking benefits rather than the mobility benefits of transit. While local innovations have been successful for implementing “starter” streetcar lines, there is a real possibility that these innovations may preclude long-term sustainable development, and regional transit investment. Corridor-based financing mechanisms have limited use for funding new transit across the city and region. Governance models that vest decision making with property owners in a single corridor preclude cross- subsidizing transit usage to areas that may have larger transit dependent populations. Discursive changes that frame transit as an economic development – rather than a mobility – tool have impacts on where future transit investments will be sited and how funds will be raised to pay for them. Local policymakers have faith that streetcars – and the real estate development patterns they facilitate – will change the politics of transit investment and land use policy in their regions, although history tells us that this is not a foregone conclusion. After identifying the institutional barriers and innovations in modern streetcar projects, this dissertation concludes with an assessment of the steps that need to be taken now and into the future to ensure that today’s innovations do not become tomorrow’s barriers to building inclusive, sustainable urban areas.

Lauren Ames Fischer is a doctoral candidate in urban planning whose research explores the intersection of transportation, economic development and land regulation in American cities. Her work uses transportation as a window into the (dis)functions of society, paying particular attention to equity and power concerns in urban infrastructure investments and the packages of regulatory and incentive schemes used to shape urban areas. Lauren’s work experience includes stints in academic and nonprofit

organizations and most recently as an independent consultant. As Associate Director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development in Chicago Lauren spearheaded research on the emerging intercity city bus sector, coordinating several research projects measuring the sector’s expansion and documenting its impact on intercity travel behavior in the United States. She also worked with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to create and implement a yearlong urban planning program (FLIP: Future Leaders in Planning) that introduces high school students to the issues that shape their communities and empowers them to seek change. Lauren has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at DePaul University (Chicago) and at the New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service. Her work has been published in the Journal of Land Use and Transport (JTLU), Transportation Research Record (TRB), Journal of Public Transportation, Journal of Transportation Law, Logistics and Policy, Environmental Practice and in an edited volume on financing sustainable transport (Routledge). She can be reached at laf2153@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.
Linying He
This dissertation investigates how microfinance was adopted and adapted in China through an in- depth case study in Yi County in Hebei province where the first microfinance NGO program was launched in 1994. Microfinance was first introduced into China as an alternative to national subsidized loans for poverty alleviation, which largely copied the Bangladesh’s NGO model but was also implemented as government-led and rural credit cooperative programs within few years after its introduction. Building upon the policy mobilities approach which conceptualizes the process of policy transfer as global or translocal assemblages with elements from local and elsewhere, this dissertation aims to shift policy mobilities approach’s emphasis on how heterogeneous elements in assemblages are made to cohere to the precarious nature of assemblages which requires constant political and technical work to prevent from them to falling apart. In thisdissertation, the non-linear development of three microfinance programs in China will be presented as a “larger” assemblage constituted by three distinct but overlapping sub- assemblages that are not always coherent and therefore constantly fluctuating in (re)formation. The purpose of the dissertation, therefore, is not only to locate the heterogeneous elements and their continually changing relations that constituted the microfinance assemblages in China but also to disclose the practices of assembly involved in the maintenance, transformation or even deterioration of the assemblages in the face of challenges and contradictions.
Linying He is a PhD candidate in urban planning program in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University (USA). She is currently working on her dissertation on policy mobility, a case of how microfinance was adopted and adapted in China.
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.
Yunjing Li
As the role of cities in addressing climate change has increasingly been recognized over the past two decades, the idea of a low-carbon city has gained great popularity in practice as well as academic and policy discussions. China is considered a pioneer in this field as nearly half of its cities at the prefecture-and-above level have set a goal to build a low-carbon city. This will have profound implications for Chinese environmental sustainability policy, local politics and urbanization outcomes. Focusing on the Shenzhen International Low-Carbon City (SILCC), this research aims to explore the relations between discourse, socio-political contexts, and institutional arrangement for building a low-carbon city on the ground. The research follows a case study design and the findings are mainly based on three fieldtrips as well as 40 semi- structured interviews with related local government officials, professionals, developers and industrial interest groups, community residents and organization members, etc. I argue that the low-carbon city is a state discursive project. Rather than an established material goal, a low- carbon city is an evolving process in which the discourse of carbon mitigation introduces a new package of values, parameters and governing logics into development practices and redefines the legitimacy and accountability of urban development. Under this new political economy of urban development, the state takes a strategic position to retouch the relationships between the economy, the environment and the society.
Yunjing Li’s research interest is situated at the intersection of environmental sustainability policy, developmental politics and urban governance. She is now writing her dissertation on Chinese efforts to build low-carbon cities with a focus on the role of the climate discourse in reshaping the dynamics and norms of urban development practices. Yunjing holds a Master of Science in Urban Planning from Columbia University, and her master thesis Chinese Land Banking in Urban Development: Long-Term Planning or Short-Term Expedient? critically looked at the land development scheme and land-based financing in China and policy flexibility across different urban areas of the country. Yunjing also holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Tsinghua University, China.
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.
Maiko Nishi
Multi-Level Governance of Agricultural Landscapes: Impact of Value Perspectives on Farmland Tenancy Arrangements in Japan
This dissertation investigates how the value perspectives held by farmers and other stakeholders at different governance levels in Japan influence farmland tenancy arrangements. Agricultural land abandonment has swelled over the past three decades, having alarming implications not only for the rural economy, but also for cultural heritage loss, food security and biodiversity change. In response, various incentive and management programs have been put in place, including new forms of tenancy arrangements. Whereas research on management programs has focused on the benefits from agricultural landscapes as a result of sound governance, understanding the value perspectives of stakeholders involved in governance processes is critical to improving the programs. The dissertation has a two-fold goal. First, it will examine the values that farmers attach to farmland and their impact on farmland tenancy arrangements. Second, it will examine the extent to which a cross-level coordination of tenancy arrangements helps farmers’ values to align with the views and perspectives held by other stakeholders involved in agricultural landscape management. To attain these goals, I will conduct an in-depth analysis of value perspectives and farmland tenancy arrangements, using semi-structured interviews of farmers and other stakeholders in Ishikawa Prefecture.
Maiko Nishi is a PhD candidate in Urban Planning at Columbia University. Her area of interest includes social-ecological system governance, and local and regional environmental planning. In particular, her interest lines in the notions of adaptive governance, land tenure and use, and the role of different actors in natural resource management. She is the recipient of the Toyota Foundation Research Grant, and the Fulbright Foreign Grant.
Xiaohong Pan
Xiaohong Pan is a PhD candidate at Columbia University urban planning program. She has a background in both transportation engineering and urban planning. Prior to joining the doctoral program at Columbia, Xiaohong worked as a policy analyst/assistant development engineer at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Xiaohong is particularly interested in areas related to sustainable transportation planning such as Travel Behavior for elderly and other demographic groups that need special attention; and how population aging affects transportation policy. Using behavioral survey analyses, Xiaohong’s dissertation studies Aging Americans’ Travel Preferences. It generates insights for researchers and practitioners to develop effective transportation policy interventions and service innovations to improve senior’s transportation access and to address transportation challenges along with the progressive population aging process.
RECENTLY COMPLETED DISSERTATIONS

2016

Eric Goldwyn

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

Julie Touber

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

2015

Alexis Perrotta

How the Poor Afford Public Transportation: The Case of New York City
Sponsor: 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)
Sponsor: Jorge Otero-Pailos

Dory Kornfeld

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

Justin Steil

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

2014

Oyebank Oyeyinka

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

2013

Andrea Rizvi

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

2012

John Powers

Un-traded Interdependencies as a Useful Theory of Regional Economic Development: A Comparative Study of Innovation in Dublin and Beijing
Sponsor: 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
Sponsor: Robert Beauregard

Shagun Mehrotra

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

2011

Johannes Novy

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

Constantine Kontokosta

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

Padmini Biswas

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

2010

James Potter

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

Erica Svendsen

Civic Environmental Stewardship as a Form of Governance in New York City
Sponsor: 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 
Sponsor: Elliott Sclar

2009

Matthew Gephardt

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

Lei Wang

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

Milena Gomez

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

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