DSUP: Student Profiles

PhD in Regional Planning Doctorates Granted

Current Doctoral Students

James P. Allen

Degrees: BS Agricultural Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; Master of Strategic Studies, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA
Research Interests: transportation planning and modeling, strategic sustainability, infrastructure resilience
Description of Research: Sustainable transportation planning, metrics, and modeling for disaster relief and contingency operations. Utilizing infrastructure assessment and remote sensing to inform decision.

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Atyeh Ashtari

Degrees: B.S. in Architectural Engineering Technology, Tehran University of Art; Master of Landscape Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Research Interests: Gender and urbanization, urban informalities, people as infrastructure, transnational solidarities
Description of Research: I come from Iran and I was born and raised within the intertwined fabric of a patriarchal society, experiencing gender inequality and its implications each and every day. That is why my research deals with everyday development of urban environment in Iran's poor quarters through gendered practices using feminist social reproduction lens, in particular a radical care approach. Moreover, my studies in architecture, landscape architecture and planning help me see the built environment on a spectrum and realize the potential of the built environment and public space as mediums of change in combating social injustice issues.

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 Balakrishnan R. Balachandran

Degrees: Bachelor of Architecture, University of Kerala, India; Post Graduate Diploma in Planning, CEPT University, India
Research Interests: Post-disaster recovery planning, disaster mitigation, land use planning, reconstruction, relocation
Description of Research: My PhD research is on disaster-induced relocation of communities, examining the social, economic and political dynamics of the relocation planning process. From households and communities, to planners and decision makers, all the stakeholders in disaster recovery negotiate tradeoffs between hazard risk and other risks including risks to livelihood, social networks and cultural identity. My research investigates how planners and decision makers deal with these risk tradeoffs and how planning processes can take them into account to improve outcomes for affected communities. I have initiated detailed case study research in South Louisiana, where I study ongoing processes of relocation. The coastal communities in this region have been experiencing both chronic and acute disasters. There has been gradual and progressive land loss due to subsidence, erosion and other factors. The region has also experienced hurricanes and storm surges, causing flooding and structural damage. As they lost their homes, families have been relocating individually over several decades and currently there is an ongoing project to proactively relocate a whole community. This entire regional context with the diverse range of relocation scenarios constitutes my case study.

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 Sowmya Balachandran

Degrees: Master of Technology (Urban & Regional Planning), School of Planning, CEPT University, Ahmedabad, August 2005; Bachelor of Architecture, Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara, July 2001
Research Interests: Housing, home ownership, community development, poverty, social inequity
Description of Research: My interest is in exploring the role of home ownership in asset building, intergenerational upward mobility and consequently poverty alleviation for low income and racially marginalized communities, specifically in large urban areas. Intrinsic to this exploration is that of spatial opportunity structures and inequities therein. While housing is seen as a conduit in accessing spatially distributed opportunity, the verdict on its importance for asset creation is divided. Besides, the role of ownership in enhancing a sense of personal control and negotiating power of low income families and communities has been given little attention in academic research. I seek to approach these issues with a mix of research methods - longitudinal studies to examine intergenerational mobility across income classes, spatial analysis of opportunity structures using a case study and ethnographic studies and interviews with community institutions to examine the importance of asset building. Having worked on alternate solutions to affordable housing in the Indian context I seek to explore and contribute to knowledge that will influence housing policy in the US and the rest of the world.

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Sergio Contreras

Degrees: BA Business Management, Universidad Catolica del Norte (UCN); MBA, Loyola Chicago University
Research Interests: Regional economics, microenterprises,
Description of Research: My research interests focus on Regional Economics, in particular, microenterprises performance evaluation and policy implementation. I am also interested in the role of e-business as a tool for regional growth and inequality reduction. My passion for this topic comes from my previous work experience, where I was involved in the policy making process in Chile. There I realized that most of the policies enacted at that time were not as effective as expected. In addition to my research, I am a member of the I STEM initiative. This unit is responsible for the ongoing evaluation of a $121,000,000 National Science Foundation investment titled "Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE)," Award number 1053575. Responsibilities include development of an on demand metrics dashboard to be used by program stakeholders-including NSF representatives.

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Maximilian Eisenburger

Research Interests: Regional economic development, workforce development, "reshoring" and "advanced manufacturing" policy

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MD Tanvir Hossain Shubho

Degrees: Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP), Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET); Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (BURP), BUET.
Research Interests: Transit Oriented Development, land use-transportation interaction, GIS in urban and regional planning, intelligent transportation system, travel behavior
Description of Research: At present, I am working on a research project that aims to investigate the relationship between urban population density and the relative carbon-efficiency of public transit and private vehicles. Although public transit is often promoted as a more sustainable passenger travel mode than driving, transit's carbon efficiency largely depends on passenger load factor. In many parts of urban areas in the U.S., population densities and hence transit ridership are so low that transit emits more carbon dioxide per passenger mile than automobiles. This research will propose a notion of carbon-efficient thresholds of urbanized area population density. Besides, my research interests include TOD induced business, appropriate parking strategies, walkability and bikeability, modeling land use mix, travel time and mode choice, ITS and its use in transit ridership, reliability, and retention.

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Efadul Huq

Degrees: B.S. in Civil Engineering Technology (Minors in Mathematics and Creative Writing), Georgia Southern University; Master of Urban Planning, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Research Interests: Environmental governance, displacements, transnational solidarities, planning theory, urban political economy
Description of Research: I am interested in urban informalities, transnational solidarity networks, and  everyday practices that uphold the housing and labor rights of marginalized communities. I have worked with community organizations that focus on issues of affordable housing, immigrant-friendly communities, economic justice and human rights. I am particularly interested in how low-income urban dwellers negotiated with state and private entities to assert their right to the city. I am a multimedia storyteller interested in mixed-media interventions that combine qualitative and quantitative research methods in planning.

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Zach Kennedy

Degrees: BA Economics, UIUC; MUP Urban Planning, UIUC
Research Interests: Small town planning, land-use planning, planning support systems
Description of Research: My research concerns Planning, economic development and land-use policy in small towns and rural communities. I am interested in developing and/or adapting practical planning support systems that can be implemented in smaller communities. This research will allow smaller communities, many without the resources to have their own planning staff, to engage in data-driven decision making which in turn can lead to increased quality of life for community residents. In addition to my PhD work, I am a Community and Economic Development Specialist with the University of Illinois Extension.

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Sang Lee

Degrees: BS Sociology, UIUC; MUP Urban Planning, UIUC
Research Interests/Specializations: Community Development, social justice, immigration and diversity, qualitative methods
Description of Research: My research concerns the impact of immigration in new destinations in the US. I examine how growing ethnic and racial diversity in the Midwest is understood and utilized by cities that have seen a significant increase in immigration. I also look at the community development efforts of immigrant community based organizations. Through this research we can better understand how immigrants get integrated socially and politically, which immigrant populations get incorporated, and which are marginalized.

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Aaron Christian Petri

Research Interests: Urban and regional systems modeling with an emphasis on energy and water, alternative wastewater treatment systems as a new form of green infrastructure, merging interests in energy and water with ecosystem service modeling

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Natalie Prochaska

2015 M.A., Urban Planning, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign; Thesis title: "Bristol Place Neighborhood Plan: Urban Renewal in Post-Kelo Fiscal Policy Space"
2009 B.A. Political Science, University of Chicago
Research Interests:
Housing, municipal, and community development finance, Critical GIS, land use regulation, urban political economy
Description of research: My research focuses on financial segregation in city-building. I am interested in how access to capital restricts opportunity (regardless of mobility- or place-based investment strategies), and how communities are re-structuring the distribution of individual and collective risk in housing through CLTs and in business through CDFIs to create more resilient neighborhoods.

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Faizzan Qayyum

Degrees: B.Sc (Hons) Economics, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS); Master of Urban Planning (MUP), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Research Interests:
 Marginalization, urban violence, grassroots activism, displacement, transnational solidarities, insurgent planning, cities of the global south, urban political economy
Description of research: I am interested in how violence, cities, and people shape one another, especially in contexts of informality and ineffective governance. My research is based in critical theory and has included physical, social, economic, and spatial implements and consequences of marginalization. I link them with state institutions and processes as well as local and transnational solidarities and movements to reclaim the city.

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Stephen Averill Sherman

Degrees: BA English and American Studies, University of Iowa; MUP, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Research Interests: policing, anchor institutions, planning theory, community development, mixed-methods and qualitative GIS, political economy
Description of Research: I research the role of the police in neighborhood and citywide economic development. While a humanist by education, my work also uses a range of GIS and quantitative methods. My thesis - which I plan to defend in Spring, 2019 - uses custom GPS-based apps to show how policing practices lead to neighborhood change in Downtown and Midtown Atlanta, GA. Other research (both submitted and in progress) investigates policing and urban renewal in the South Side of Chicago, the community development function of US hospitals, and policing within NIMBYist discourses. As a community member, I am part of the Education Justice Project, a community of educators, students, and activists within the University of Illinois and the Danville Correctional Center.

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Shruti Syal

Degrees: BSc Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada (2005-2009); MSc Environmental Studies, TERI University, New Delhi, India (2011-2013)
Research Interests: environmental planning, urban informality, public infrastructure, ecological education, socio-environmental entrepreneurship
Description of Research: An ethnographic-cum-action research-based study on the provision and management of alternative sewage treatment infrastructure in informal settlements scattered along a network of open drains in New Delhi, India. Coursework and preliminary research this past year funded by a Campus Research Board grant received April 2014.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | LinkedIn | CV | Website | Project Blog | acwus webpage | ResearchGate


 Ariam L. Torres Cordero

Degrees: BA Economics, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez; MA Urban Planning, University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras
Research Interests: Political ecology, environmental justice, grassroots environmentalism, insurgent planning, colonialism, translocality
Description of Research: I research the commonalities in the different configurations of grassroots environmentalism in the face of environmental injustice. My aim is to identify both formal and - especially - informal tools, methods, and processes that are effective in helping marginalized communities mitigate environmental injustices and develop sustainable environmental improvement. More specifically, I explore how marginalized communities mitigate and overcome environmental injustices through tactical activism and/or insurgent planning practices.

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Ozge Yenigun

Degrees: B.S. City and Regional Planning, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, (2012); M.S. Regional Planning, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey (2015)
Research Interests: Regional economic development, entrepreneurship, immigration and diversity, urban and regional governance, gentrification and displacement, grassroots initiatives
Description of Research: My current research focuses on the role of diversity in regional economic development. In particular, I examine how social, cultural, ethnic and demographic diversity affects economic development of regions. My research concerns diversified labor market dynamics in relation with the role of governance and institutional arrangements at multiple levels shaping economic activity. Identifying the factors shaping the relationship between diversity and economic development can help planners and policy-makers define strategies with which cities and regions can benefit from diversity as sources of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

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