CRP Ph.D. Student Profiles

Ph.D. Candidates in Regional Planning

Farhana Ahmad

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Farhana Ahmad is a Ph.D. student in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell. Her research intersects the fields of adaptation planning, water, and institutional reform. Her work examines how and why processes of adaptation planning by institutions differentially affect cities, regions, and communities, and the implications of these processes for questions of vulnerability, equity, and sustainability. Ahmad's interest in issues of equity in cities comes from her 10 years of experience working in the international development field in Bangladesh. She holds a bachelor's degree from Grinnell College and a master's degree from the University of Minnesota.


Austin M. Aldag (M.R.P. '18)

headshot of a young blonde man wearing suit and tieAustin M. Aldag's research agenda focuses broadly on local governments as institutions of social change and inter-governmental relations and inter-municipal cooperation in particular. Aldag is currently involved with projects examining state preemptions of local autonomy, local-to-local collaboration, and fiscal stress. His work has been published in several public administration journals including, but not limited to, the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Public Administration Quarterly, and Publius: The Journal of Federalism. Prior to his graduate studies, Aldag held a summer research fellowship at the University of Maryland where he specialized in survey methodology and foreign direct investment. He has held various local government positions with the cities of Peoria, Bloomington, and East Peoria, Illinois, where he has done everything from investigating sewer lines within historic districts to analyzing public work practices regarding street line painting. Aldag holds a master's of regional planning from Cornell and has a bachelor of arts in political science from Illinois Wesleyan University. When not talking to city managers, combing through local government databases, or reading about transaction costs, you may find Aldag making sushi with his wife Nghi, playing one of his many board games, or reading the latest science fiction novel.


Kadir Basboga

Kadir Basboga's main research interests include cross-border cooperation, regional integration, and participatory planning. He has 10 years of experience in development planning and international development, specifically in Turkey, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan. He has previously studied the contributions of small enterprises to socioeconomic development. Now he is investigating culturally friendly ways to build up the capacities of local partnerships to enhance the sustainability of ongoing country and international level development interventions. He aspires to come up with new and more effective ways of engaging local communities with a focus on cross-border regions. Before joining AAP, he received his bachelor's degree in management from Bilkent University in Turkey, and a master's degree in public administration from the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs.


Dieter Bouma

Dieter Bouma's research interests focus on justice and equity in environmental land-use planning, land security for vulnerable populations, and win-win arrangements for biodiversity conservation and human livelihood development. His research has a regional focus in South Asia, specifically South India. Bouma has a background in environmental policy and planning. He currently teaches a field-based class on conservation and development in the Indian tropics in partnership with Bishop Heber College in Tamil Nadu. Prior to his doctoral program, he facilitated transdisciplinary research projects, bringing together research scientists and community organizations to coproduce science at the University of Michigan's Graham Sustainability Institute. Bouma received a B.S. in biology from Calvin College and a joint M.S./M.P.P. in international environmental policy and planning from the University of Michigan.


Jared Enriquez

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Jared Enriquez investigates integrated planning solutions to achieving water security, the equity implications of environmental and economic development policies, and the diversification of urban development actors. His current research focuses on local governments' water conservation policies and practices in landscapes at risk of significant ecological transformation. Before studying water policies, he examined defensible urban design and the social and physical construction of exclusive spaces in the name of security. After his Ph.D., he hopes to become a professor who leads planning studios and directs research. Enriquez received his B.A. in architecture and urban studies from Yale, and master of urban planning from the University of Michigan.


Eunah Jung

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Eunah Jung's research broadly covers topics related to economic development and social equity issues. She is interested in understanding how urban regeneration and revitalization policies affect surrounding neighborhoods across different groups of society. Her current research focuses on the impact of public financing policy on business markets and gentrification. With a specific interest in quantitative and spatial analysis methods, she has also developed an interest in data science, using big data analysis and computer simulation tools, to understand the nuanced interactions among socioeconomic factors within spatiotemporal contexts, and thereby to forecast long-range scenarios of social vulnerability. Jung received both her bachelor's degree and master's degree in landscape architecture from Seoul National University, where she researched the influence of landscape spaces and natural environment on real estate markets.


Euna Kim

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Euna Kim's main interest centers around urban equity, social justice, and sustainable development of historic cities and districts. With a focus on developing countries in Asia, she examines how haphazard heritage development can lead to unexpected detrimental outcomes including social displacement and social fragmentation of existing impoverished communities. Ultimately, she aims to explore urban conservation in relation to gentrification, affordable housing, governance, and urban equity which can lead to an ecosystem where the costs and benefits of heritage development are distributed equally. She has two years of experience as a conservation architect in Seoul, South Korea, and also worked at an urban planning company in Beijing, China, where she participated in management projects for historic cities. She holds a bachelor's degree in architecture from Yonsei University in South Korea and received her master's degree in conservation of monuments and sites from KU Leuven in Belgium.


Wenzheng Li (M.R.P. '18)

Wenzheng Li's research focuses on the urban spatial structure, with emphasis on the measures of polycentricity and its empirical justification as the future spatial planning paradigm in the international context. He explores the topic in terms of morphological and functional metrics and justifies the positive impacts of polycentricity on boosting economic welfares, reducing regional disparity, and improving environmental sustainability. He is engaged in an ongoing project that examines how people value neighboring environmental amenities (e.g., green space and clean air) over time in regions with rapid environmental degradation through the hedonic housing price model. Li extensively combines GIS, remote sensing, spatial econometrics, and computer programming in his research. Before joining the Ph.D. program, Li worked for Tompkins County, where he was committed to improving the affordability and accessibility of public transportation in small urban/rural areas. He received his bachelor's degree in remote sensing from China University of Geosciences and a master's degree in regional planning at Cornell University.


Lu Liao

Lu Liao is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in CRP. Her research interests sit at the intersection of environmental planning and urban politics. She studies local government decision-making and implementation of plans and policies, with a focus on sustainability and climate change. Based on a survey of 1,899 cities and counties across the United States, she tries to explore the role of planning in helping local governments implement and balance the economic, environmental, and equity dimensions of sustainability. She is also interested in the coordination and collaboration of different levels of governments in mitigating climate change. She received both her bachelor's degree in law and master's degree in public policy from Tsinghua University in China. She has published articles in journals such as the Journal of the American Planning Association, Land Use Policy, Rural Sociology, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, and Local Environment. Learn more about Lu Liao's work.


Andrea Restrepo-Mieth

headshot of a woman with long dark hair wearing an orange scarfRestrepo-Mieth's research explores the interplay of planning, politics, social movements, and institutions in cities in the Global South. Her current work in Medellín and Bogotá examines the strategic actions of grassroots, state actors, and business elites towards formally and informally institutionalizing progressive planning in three areas — mobility, public space, and water and sanitation. In line with this focus, she is also interested in the ways in which urban inhabitants in Medellín's underprivileged northern zones redefine citizenship through their engagement in community-based planning practices that reimagine their neighborhoods and the city. She is currently a visiting researcher at EAFIT University in Medellín. In addition to working on her dissertation, Restrepo-Mieth is a member of a multidisciplinary research group funded by the Institute for Comparative Modernities and the Polson Institute for Global Development that examines relations between space, place, and resistance in Latin America. Prior to attending Cornell, Restrepo-Mieth worked for three years in investment banking in New York City and one year in urban sustainability in Singapore. She holds a B.A. in economics and international relations from SUNY New Paltz and a master's in public policy from the Lee Kuan Yew School, National University of Singapore.


Melanie Sand

headshot of a young woman wearing a sleeveless burgundy shirtMelanie Sand is a Ph.D. candidate writing her dissertation on American Indian dispossession, climate change displacement, and Indigenous relocation planning. She focuses more generally on planning for resilience in cultural heritage communities and the human dimensions of planning in at-risk coastal communities. Before pursuing graduate school, she worked as a town planner for two neighboring towns in western North Carolina. She conducted research with the University of New Orleans Center for Hazards Assessment, Response, and Technology where she worked with lowland people and bayou communities of southern Louisiana promoting participation and community activism toward coastal resilience. At Cornell, Sand has been a teaching assistant for an array of planning subjects, including the American city, urban theory, land use, and geographic information systems. She also taught an introduction to GIS course at Cornell as a visiting lecturer. She plans to defend her dissertation in 2018. She has a bachelor's degree in urban planning and development from Ball State University and a master's degree in urban and regional planning from the University of New Orleans.


Seema Singh

Seema Singh is a Ph.D. candidate whose research broadly focuses on examining gender and urban transport linkages in developing countries with the key intent of mainstreaming gender concerns in urban transport planning and policymaking. She is also interested in exploring the role that new innovative forms of mobility services (like Uber) can play in closing the existing gender mobility gap. For her ongoing research in India, Singh was recently selected to be part of the first cohort of the Young Leaders in Sustainable Transport program launched by the Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport and the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations. Prior to coming to Cornell, she worked for more than four years as a research associate at the Energy and Resources Institute, a global policy think tank working on issues of sustainable urban development and urban transport. Singh holds a master's in infrastructure planning from CEPT University (Ahmedabad, India) and a bachelor's degree in architecture from the Chandigarh College of Architecture, India.


Melissa Smith

portrait of a woman standing on a shoreline wearing a blue life jacketMelissa Smith's research interests include preservation planning and heritage management as it relates to diverse, multiethnic, and cross-cultural circumstances, focusing on public engagement and outreach and exploring the political and social issues that affect and inform planning practices. Her background includes experience in historical archaeology, nonprofit management, as well as work as a cultural liaison for the Somali Bantu refugee community in Vermont. Her research is currently being utilized to interpret the Turner Family homestead for inclusion on the Vermont African American Heritage Trail. She holds a bachelor of arts in anthropology from the University of Mary Washington and a master of science in historic preservation from the University of Vermont.


Dylan Stevenson

portrait of a young man with dark hair and trees behind himDylan Stevenson is a Ph.D. candidate researching the intersections among urban planning, public health, and indigenous communities. His research interests investigate how tribal epistemologies and land relations influence the conceptualization of the future to develop culturally appropriate methods to promote the goals of indigenous communities. More specifically, he examines the impact of agricultural activity in eastern Oklahoma to understand its relationship to public health outcomes for indigenous communities in the surrounding area. His other interests include health care accessibility, tribal planning, and epidemiological methods in planning practice. Prior to coming to Cornell, Stevenson worked for public and quasi-public entities dealing with the implementation of local, state, and federal legislation. He holds a bachelor's degree in linguistics from the University of California–Davis and a master's degree in urban planning from the University of Southern California.


Nidhi Subramanyam (M.R.P. '14)

Nidhi SubramanyamSubramanyam's research examines how small cities in the Global South manage urbanization in the face of demographic and climate change. She is interested in understanding how small city governments provide and manage basic services such as water and sanitation (and the infrastructure that undergirds them) in an equitable and sustainable manner. Her other interest areas include postcolonial urban development and the politics of localism in cities in the global South. Prior to returning to Cornell to pursue her doctoral studies, Subramanyam worked with the Climate Change program at Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC). At IDRC, she helped institute projects that addressed climate change adaptation in secondary cities in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and published papers on the governance of flooding risks in the peri-urban municipalities in the Mumbai metropolitan region. An architect by training, Subramanyam obtained her M.R.P. from Cornell, where her thesis examined agrarian communities' responses to dispossession from their lands and livelihoods for Special Economic Zones in Tamil Nadu, India. She also interned with the nonprofit Transparent Chennai, where she worked on participatory mapping projects to increase access to water and sanitation for the urban poor in Chennai.


Fauzul Rizal Sutikno

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Fauzul Rizal Sutikno is a Ph.D. Fulbright scholar from Indonesia. His research focuses on international planning in poverty alleviation and community-based planning in Southeast Asia. He is trying to understand how communities engage social networks and construct efficient developments in their neighborhoods. He is also trying to identify why and how participation happens in local and municipal communities. He is interested in combining modeling and qualitative methods in his research. Before coming to Cornell, he worked as a lecturer at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Brawijaya University in Indonesia, and also worked as a planning consultant focused on infrastructure and transportation projects. He received his master's in planning from Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia, and his bachelor's degree from Brawijaya University.


Ryan Thomas

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Ryan Thomas is interested in learning about sustainable development by studying the economic development strategies employed by communities that are impacted by climate change. He is currently working on a project to compare cities' environmental performance using open and remotely sensed data. Thomas grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, where his hometown pride and optimism led him to work for the city planning department and complete a master's degree in community planning at the University of Cincinnati. As part of his master's thesis research, Thomas conducted a census in an informal settlement of Rio de Janiero. This experience highlighted the importance of data as a tool to advocate for basic government services. Since then, he has worked to develop computer information systems for data collection, management, and analysis. Prior to joining the CRP Ph.D. program, Thomas developed knowledge management systems to support project evaluations and performance management for USAID and the U.S. State Department. He holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the College of Wooster.


Christine Wen

Christine WenChristine Wen's research — situated at the intersection of migration, labor geography, and urban planning — explores the governance challenges and social conflicts arising from rapid urbanization in contemporary China. Her dissertation applies the framework of migrant integration to analyzing the interactions between state and migrant agency, particularly around the issue of urban citizenship and space production. In particular, she seeks to understand how local governments balance practices of both "expulsion" and "incorporation" in their approach to integrating migrants. Her ethnographic fieldwork primarily takes place in emerging secondary cities in the interior, migrant-sending provinces of China, where she looks at how processes of integration vary for different types of informal migrant spaces in central and peri-urban areas. Wen holds a B.A. in physics from Princeton University and an M.S. in urban planning from Columbia University, where she studied the impact of climate change on U.S. groundwater systems as a researcher at the Earth Institute.


Ph.D. Candidates in Regional Science

Karina Acosta Ordonez

Karina Acosta is a Ph.D. candidate in the field of regional science with a minor in demography. Her research interests are grouped in the areas of regional economic development, spatial econometrics, and demography. Her studies are devoted to the understanding of the geographic, redistribution, and explanatory factors of regional multidimensional deprivations in developing countries within the frame of capability approach, and rely on recent improvements of Bayesian analysis and the field of development economics. Prior to her graduate studies, Ordonez worked as a junior researcher at the Center for Regional Economic Studies at the Central Bank of Colombia. She has a bachelor of arts degree in economics from Universidad del Rosario (Colombia).


Andres Castaño

An economist by training, Andres Castaño is now a fourth-year Ph.D. student in regional science. Castaño's research interests span the areas of regional, labor, and health economics. His work combines a variety of quasiexperimental methods and spatial analysis to study 1) the impact of immigration on the labor and educational sector in the developing world and 2) the effect of gender norms and the distribution of income within a household and its socioeconomic consequences. Before coming to Cornell, Castaño worked as a lecturer at the Universidad Católica del Norte in Chile and as a research assistant for Colombia's Central Bank Division of Regional Economics. He has also been a consultant for the World Bank. Castaño holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the Universidad of Cartagena in Colombia and a master's degree in applied economics with a focus on urban and regional economics from the Universidad Católica del Norte in Chile.


Woosung Kim (M.S. RS '12)

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Woosung Kim's research focuses on policy analysis and management by focusing on regional impact analysis using various method combinations, particularly the social accounting matrix, econometrics, and agent-based modeling. Currently, his research is relating to the impact of reducing military expenditures, relationships between peace and trade, and the impact of tax incentives by using an integration of computational methodologies and theories. Before joining the Ph.D. program, he received his bachelor's degree in international studies from the University of California–Irvine and a master's degree in regional science at Cornell University.


Jingwen Li (M.A. RS '16)

Jingwen Li is a Ph.D. candidate in regional science. Her research mainly focuses on the welfare impact of trade policies. She is currently writing her dissertation using quantitative methods to examine the effect of regional integration on economic growth and income inequality. Specifically, she is interested in how the development of today's global value chain trade will affect participating countries' welfare. By developing a CGE model based on multi-country input-output tables and the characteristics of today's global value chain trade, the proposed research will be able to examine the distribution of gains from trade for each country. Li received her master of arts in regional science from Cornell in August 2016. Before coming to Cornell, she graduated from the University of International Trade and Business (Beijing, China) with a bachelor's degree in economics and a minor in international trade law in June 2014.


Carlos A. Mesa-Guerra

b&w headshot of a young man with brown hairCarlos A. Mesa-Guerra's research covers topics related to development (especially rural development) and decentralization. Currently, he is interested in understanding the existing gaps between urban and rural areas in low- and middle-income countries. In these places, he studies the provision of public goods and services, how spatial and income inequalities affect regional and national growth, as well as the institutional constraints that facilitate or hinder growth. His work combines econometric and spatial methods for causal inference. Before coming to Cornell, he received his B.S. in economics and B.A. in political science and government, and a master's in economics and public policy from Universidad del Rosario in Colombia.


Yeonkyeong Park

Yeonkyeong Park seeks to research transportation infrastructure planning and regional economic development, particularly improving connectivity between highways, ports, and airports for smart city building. Prior to joining Cornell, she worked at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, and researched the Sri Lankan port of Colombo's infrastructure and supply chain integration of South Asia under the Belt and Road Initiative of China. She presented her findings at the World Conference on Transportation Research in Mumbai, India. She later used this information to expand her master's thesis research to build a single-window system in Sri Lanka for implementing the trade facilitation agreement. Park also worked as a research analyst for map visualization of air pollution at the National Cancer Center of South Korea. She holds bachelor's degrees in international management from the University of Applied Sciences Osnabrueck (Germany) and international studies from Kyung Hee University (South Korea), and a master's degree in international commerce from Seoul National University.


Waishan Qiu

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Trained as an interdisciplinary urban designer and researcher, Waishan Qiu is now pursuing a Ph.D. in regional science at Cornell University. He is experienced in developing digital tools to investigate the dynamic interaction between people and space. Being interested in cybernetics, sensing technology, spatial analysis, and data visualization, he has been involved with various data-driven research across the world in places like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the U.S., and China. His research explores mobility, accessibility, shareability, resilience, and sustainability issues in an urban context. Prior to joining Cornell, he worked as a research associate at MIT. He also has several degrees from top universities in China, the U.K., and the U.S., including a master of city planning in city design and development from MIT in 2017, a master of architecture in urban design with distinction from the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London in 2015, and a bachelor of engineering in urban planning from Tongji University in 2013. His previous lab experiences include the MIT Senseable City Lab, the MIT Samuel Tak Lee Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab, the MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism, and Evidence for Policy Design at the Harvard Kennedy School. View Waishan Qiu's portfolio.


Shriya Rangarajan

Shriya Rangarajan is a Ph.D. student in regional science whose research interests span the areas of environmental and economic sustainability — broadly, local economies and the circular economy and their contributions to improved environmental outcomes. Some questions she is interested in are how localization of economic activity impacts carbon footprints and the role that consumers can play in the circular economy paradigm. She hopes to investigate these by studying rural and agrarian communities. Prior to starting her program at Cornell, she was working in rural development and public sector/government consulting in India. She holds a master's degree in urban planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and a bachelor's in biotechnology from NIT Warangal.


Xiaozhong Sun (M.R.P. '16)

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Xiaozhong Sun's research covers topics related to regional economic development, regional agglomeration, and fiscal decentralization. His research question is mainly centered on what factors contribute to the uneven economic development at a macrogeographic scale over time. These factors of interest include path-dependent locational comparative advantages, institutional settings, policy incentives and distortions, agglomeration economies, and accumulation of human capital. The goal of the research is to provide policy recommendations for land and fiscal resource allocation at a regional level and predict future regional growth and decline with the inflow and outflow of migration and capital. Currently, his object of study is the evolution of spatial inequality in China since the reform and opening-up policy at the provincial and subprovincial level. With the help of theoretical and empirical study, he is trying to understand the interactions of geographical force, market forces, and institutional force with respect to explaining China's trajectory of economic development. His work combines conventional econometrics, spatial econometrics, network analysis, and GIS. He formerly graduated with an M.R.P. in 2016 and continues his study as a doctoral student in the field of regional science. Before coming to Cornell, he received bachelor's and master's degrees in land resources management from Nanjing Agricultural University and Renmin University of China.


Hanxue Wei

Hanxue Wei is a Ph.D. student in regional science at Cornell University. She's trained in urban planning (M.U.P., Tongji University), urban design (M.S., Georgia Tech), and architecture (B.E., Interdisciplinary Class, Tongji University). Her research interests currently lie at the intersection of spatial data analysis and urban land use, especially in harvesting and evaluating mass urban spatial data to better understand and improve cities. Before joining the Ph.D. program, Wei worked as an urban planner at East China Architectural Design and Research Institute in Shanghai.


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