Research Affiliates

Allison Iris Arlotta

Allison Iris Arlotta is a recent graduate of Columbia University’s MS in Historic Preservation program and currently works with CSUD on the collaborative research project, Urban Heritage, Sustainability, and Social Inclusion: A Preservation Policy Initiative. As a Data Fellow for the Landmarks Preservation Commission, she contributed to the agency’s Discover New York City Landmarks project, a publicly accessible interactive online map of the city’s 36,000 buildings with historic designation. She wrote her award-winning master’s thesis on the reciprocal relationship, and areas of potential collaboration, between historic preservation and waste management.

Erica Avrami

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Erica Avrami PhD, is the James Marston Fitch Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Dr. Avrami’s research and teaching focus on the intersection of heritage and sustainability, aligning goals of cultural and natural resource planning and management, promoting values-based and participatory approaches to conservation, and ensuring just outcomes of historic preservation policy. Stressing the importance of maintaining a dynamic exchange between practice and scholarship, Avrami sees important horizons to explore in the field as climate change compels fundamental shifts in the way we design, construct, and management the built environment, and in how communities play a role in decision-making about their shared past and future. Dr. Avrami’s current work with CSUD focuses on the collaborative research project, Urban Heritage, Sustainability, and Social Inclusion: A Preservation Policy Initiative, which examines preservation as an integral aspect of evolving municipal-level urban policy. Dr. Avrami earned her B.A. in Architecture and M.S. in Historic Preservation, both at Columbia, and completed her Ph.D. in planning and public policy at Rutgers University.

Jennifer van den Bussche

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Jennifer van den Bussche, Master of International and Community Development and Bachelor of Arts in Architecture (Deakin University), is the founder and director of Sticky Situations  in Johannesburg. She is a Project Manager who brings strong facilitation skills to her work, complimented by her experience in community development, as well as her background in construction and training in architecture. Jennifer has used these skills to bring together talented teams in disadvantaged communities in Johannesburg to create successful outcomes in a range of projects including public art, sanitation upgrades and multi-media exhibitions and events. As Global Studio Johannesburg project manager, Jennifer contributed to the success of Global Studio 2007-09.  She founded Sticky Situations in 2010. Her 2019 WASSUP Report documents a decade of progress by community based sanitation organization, WASSUP, Sticky Situations and international organizations Healthabitat and IAPMO. She has participated in CSUD World Urban Forum events  is a contributor to CSUD’s Accelerating the SDGs project team, and co-ordinates the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation’s (GSAPP) Studio X projects and activities in South Africa.

Kayleigh Campbell

Kayleigh Campbell is a doctoral student in sustainable development at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. In her dissertation research she is analyzing the impact that bike sharing has had on subway, bus, and taxi ridership and efficiency in New York City using a differences-in-differences research design. The goal is to learn more about how bike sharing interacts with other modes of transportation.  She is also studying transportation access in Nairobi. Using data from the Digital Matatus Project, she and her collaborators are trying to understand where and to whom transportation access is provided and how to appropriately measure access in a developing country context. Finally, in her master’s research she found that U.S. cities that had urban rail transit before the automobile age, have lower per capita carbon dioxide emissions today than cities built entirely around the automobile.  She loves exploring new ideas and playing with data. Her biggest research challenge has been tracking down the data she needs for those ideas!

Eric Goldwyn

E_GoldwynEric Goldwyn holds a PhD in Urban Planning. He is working on his dissertation which examines non-traditional forms of transit, such as jitneys and unlicensed taxis in New York. Thanks to the generosity of the Volvo Research and Education Foundations (VREF) and the Earth Institute’s Center for Sustainable Urban Development at Columbia University, he will study transit networks in Cape Town, South Africa this Winter. He has a B.A in history from Bowdoin College, an M.U.P. from New York University, and an M.Phil from Columbia University

Avantika Goswami

Avantika Goswami is a graduate student in the M.S. Sustainability Management program at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. She has a background in Economics and has worked in management consulting in Mumbai, prior to pursuing her graduate studies in New York City. Her research is focused on mobility and sustainable transportation, resiliency of critical urban infrastructure to climate change effects, and the factors influencing public sector efficacy in furthering a city’s sustainability goals. She has worked with the Chief Economist of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey researching sustainability metrics for large multi-modal transportation agencies. She is interested in examining best practices in sustainability planning by agencies in urban centers in the developed world and exploring their adoption in the context of emerging economies in Asia and beyond. She has a B.A. in Economics (with Honours) from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.

Jonas Hagen

Jonas Hagen has worked on urban planning and transportation projects, both as an academic and practitioner, in New York City, Bogota, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, among other cities. He has worked at the United Nations, the New York City Department of Transportation, and was Deputy Brazil Country Director for the Institute for Transport and Development Policy (ITDP) from 2007-2011. Jonas has a BA in International Relations and an MS in Urban Affairs from Hunter College (City University of New York), and began his Ph.D. in Urban Planning at Columbia University in 2012. His research focuses on environmental and public health outcomes of transportation systems and his dissertation will examine the effects of automobile speed in urban areas. Jonas hopes to contribute his work experience and research skills to the work of CSUD.

Nicholas Hamilton

nh_dec_2015aNicholas Hamilton directs the urban policy work of The American Assembly where he leads the Legacy Cities Partnership, a national coalition of practitioners, researchers and leaders working to revitalize America’s legacy cities. His work focuses on economic development, urban governance, and civic engagement. Prior to joining The Assembly, he worked at the Earth Institute Center for SustaNicholas Hamilton directs the urban policy work of The American Assembly where he leads the Legacy Cities Partnership, a national coalition of practitioners, researchers and leaders working to revitalize America’s legacy cities. His work focuses on economic development, urban governance, and civic engagement. Prior to joining The Assembly, inable Urban Development at Columbia University. He served as project manager for the team receiving the 2009 Leous-Parry Award for Progressive Sustainability for work relating to inclusive urbanization in Cairo, Egypt and joined the Next City Vanguard in 2013. His architectural and urban design work for the firm Davis Brody Bond included the master planning and architectural design of US diplomatic facilities abroad to the design and construction management of research laboratories at Columbia University. Mr. Hamilton holds a Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and BA in Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley.

HY William Chan

HY William Chan is a European Architect based in Sydney. Educated in Australia and Italy, he is a Convocation and University Medallist of the University of Sydney, and a Fellow with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and WISE Qatar Foundation. William co-founded an initiative to help refugee youth develop skills in sustainability, innovation and the circular economy, which was presented at the High Level Meeting on Social Business, Youth and Technology during the 2018 UN General Assembly. In 2009 he contributed to Global Studio in South Africa, an action-research program to improve the lives of the urban poor, and returned in 2012 as a project associate in India. He assisted the 2013-2015 CSUD-Global Studio People Building Better Cities: Participation and Inclusive Urbanization traveling exhibition, and is contributing to the CSUD project Accelerating the SDGs. William has worked on sustainable urban development projects for Arup Foresight, Hassell, Cox Architecture and the Australian Government Department of the Environment.

Clara Irazábal

ClaraIrazabalClara Irazábal is Professor of Planning, Director of the Latina/Latino Studies Program University of Missouri-Kansas. Her research, she explores the interaction of culture, politics, and placemaking. She primarily focuses on Latin American cities and Latino communities in the US. Irazábal has worked as consultant, researcher, and/or professor in Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Germany, Spain, and the US; and has lectured in many other countries. She is the author of Urban Governance and City Making in the Americas: Curitiba and Portland (Ashgate, 2005) and the editor of Ordinary Places, Extraordinary Events: Citizenship, Democracy, and Public Space in Latin America (Routledge/ Taylor & Francis, 2008). She has published academic articles in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

David King

David King is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at Arizona State University. His research explores the impact of local transportation planning on the built environment, public finance and accessibility. As part of this research he has written about the phenomenon of cruising for parking and used spatial regression techniques to analyze travel behavior. He also studies how public policy influences the adoption of new technologies to address congestion, energy and environmental concerns. These issues are the focus of Professor King’s teaching through his courses covering planning techniques and methods, transportation and land use planning and transport policy.

Patrick Kinney

Dr. Patrick Kinney is a Research Associate in Environmental Health at Boston University. Dr. Kinney’s teaching and research address issues at the intersection of global environmental change, human health, and policy, with an emphasis on the public health impacts of climate change and air pollution. His work in the 1990s on air quality and environmental justice in Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx led to important new insights into the impacts of diesel vehicle emissions on local air quality. Dr. Kinney has carried out numerous studies examining the human health effects of air pollution, including studies of the effects of ozone and/or particulate matter on lung health and on daily mortality in large cities. More recently, he developed a new interdisciplinary research and teaching program at Columbia examining the potential impacts of climate change on human health. Dr. Kinney was the first to show that climate change could worsen urban smog problems in the U.S., with attendent adverse health impacts. He also has projected future health impacts related to heat waves in the NYC metropolitan area. In a new research initiative, Dr. Kinney is working with clinicians at Columbia University Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital to understand how past and future climate may affect pollen-related allergic airway diseases. Dr. Kinney earned his doctorate at the Harvard School of Public Health, where he studied the effects of air pollution on lung function in children as part of the Harvard Six Cities Air Pollution and Health Study.

Geeta Mehta

Dr. Geeta Mehta is an adjunct professor of architecture and urban design at Columbia University (profiled here ) and the founder/president of Asia Initiatives (AI), a non-profit organization with a mission to help communities help themselves. Geeta is the innovator of Social Capital Credits (SoCCs), a community currency for social good that is being used in USA, India, Ghana, Kenya to incentivize communities to improve their neighborhoods and wellbeing. She was recognized as one of the 21 Leaders of the 21st Century by Women’s eNews in 2015, and by HSBC Bank as the Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. She serves on New York Mayor De Blasio’s Advisory Board for Waterfront Development.

Geeta is also the co-founder of URBZ: User Generated Cities that works with underserved communities to help improve neighborhoods through advocacy and better public spaces and homes. A board member for The Center for Living Cities, and Women Strong International, she also serves on the advisory boards of Friends of University of Tokyo. Mehta is a frequent speaker at international forums related to urban design and social justice, and is also the author/co-author of six books. She was an advisor to CSUD’s traveling exhibition, People Building Better Cities, and is collaborating with CSUD on the Accelerating the SDGs and associated activities.

Nicole Ngo


Nicole Ngo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Planning, Public Policy, and Management at the University of Oregon.  She earned her Ph.D. in Sustainable Development at Columbia University in 2013 and her research interests include health economics, environmental policy, and urban sustainability.  Her current research focuses on health and urban air pollution in the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa.  Please visit her website for more information:  Nicole has also conducted research focused on conditions in Nairobi along with CSUD’s Jacqueline Klopp and Patrick Kinney.  Nicole holds a B.A. in Economics and a B.S. in Earth and Environmental Science from the University of California, Irvine.

Anna Oursler


Anna graduated from Columbia University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) with a dual degree in Urban Planning and Architecture. Anna joins us with over five years of experience working on the development and installation of small scale renewable energy technologies in East Africa. Anna spent two years working as a research analysis for Global Footprint Network, using the Ecological Footprint to evaluate human development projects in Africa. Anna has worked to develop waste-to-energy technologies in Nairobi, Kenya and to install photovoltaics, biogas and energy efficient cook stoves in Tanzania. She managed the design and implementation of a series of community centers that allowed local residents to learn about, construct and purchase a wide range of appropriate technologies and alternative fuels. Anna holds a Bachelors degree from UC Berkeley and has studied as a post-graduate fellow at the University of Nairobi. In her spare time, Anna enjoys outdoor activities such as mountain climbing and camping.

Jeffrey Paller

Paller PhotoJeffrey Paller is an Assistant Professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco. His research examines the practice of democracy and accountability in urban African slums. He has conducted fieldwork in Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa. He was an Earth Institute Post-Doctoral Fellow and  a visiting lecturer of politics at Bates College where he taught courses on cities, slums and democracy; African politics and development; and democratization in the world. He received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the department of political science in 2014. His research interests include African politics, sustainable urban development, democratic theory, and field research methods. His scholarship has been published by Polity and African Studies Review. He served as a Research Associate at the Center for Democratic Development in Ghana, and has been funded by the Social Science Research Council, National Science Foundation, and the University of Wisconsin. Prior to graduate school, he received his B.A. from Northwestern University and served as a Program Coordinator for the Illinois Education Foundation.

Devangi Ramakrishnan

Architect-urban designer Devangi Ramakrishnan’s work focuses on the realization of inclusive and equitable cities through multidisciplinary, place-based, participatory, community-driven, action research, planning, and design.  A graduate from Leuven in Human Settlements, and the University of Mumbai, her professional experience includes design and construction management of urban riverfronts, parks, streetscapes, and community engagement projects in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Chennai, and Pondicherry . She is a trustee of the Urban Design Collective (UDC), a platform for architects, urban designers and planners to create livable cities through participatory planning. Currently she manages UDC’s strategic initiatives in Pondicherry, providing project-based consultancy to several local, community organizations, and city and state-level government departments. In 2005, Devangi joined Global Studio Istanbul as a student, returning as a Project Associate to Global Studio Bhopal in 2012. She assisted in the 2013-15 CSUD-Global Studio People Building Better Cities: Participation and Inclusive Urbanization traveling exhibition, anchoring PBBC’s India program, and is contributing to the CSUD project, Accelerating the SDGs.

Andrea Rizvi

A_RizviAndrea Rizvi has a Ph.D. in Urban Planning Program from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) at Columbia University, New York.  Her research focuses on the practice of infrastructure provision in developing countries.  Her doctoral research explored the impact of different types of planning process on project outcomes, drawing on case studies of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) implementation in India.  Prior to embarking on her doctorate, she worked at the World Bank where she managed programs to deliver infrastructure services in poor urban and rural settlements.  She has over 15 years of experience as both a project manager and design practitioner in Australia, United Kingdom, South America and Eastern Europe.  She holds Masters Degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Technology and Policy (MSc.) and Environmental Engineering (MSc.) as well as an Honors degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Queensland in Australia.

Vera Tangari

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Architect and Associate Professor at Federal University in Rio de Janeiro (FAU-UFRJ) in Brazil. Graduated in Architecture (Instituto Bennett de Ensino, 1981), with a Master of Science Degree on Urban Planning (The University of Michigan, 1983), and a Doctoral Degree in Urban Environmental Structures (University of São Paulo, 2000). She is a researcher at the Graduate Program in Architecture (PROARQ-UFRJ), advisor of doctoral and master thesis and dissertations, coordinator of the research group SEL-RJ (Open spaces systems in Rio de Janeiro) and vice-coordinator of the research group Prolugar (Quality of Place and Landscape). Main research fields include urban landscape morphology, urban design and architectural design, and interests comprise peripheral neighborhoods, urban expansion regions and low income settings, social housing design and architecture education. Vera is also a member of the directory board of the Brazilian Association of Landscape Architects and associated to the Brazilian Architects Institute. Vera is a partner in CSUD’s project Accelerating the SDGs.

Silvia Vercher

Silvia Vercher holds a Master of Architecture and Urban Design with Distinction from Columbia University, Master of Urban Planning from the University of South Australia, and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University Polytechnic of Valencia, Spain, and the Aarhus Arkitekskolen, Denmark. Trained in architecture, urban design and urban planning with a strong interest in sustainability, she has professional experience in Spain, Mexico and the USA, including the Hudson River Rebuild by Design Masterplan by SCAPE Studio, NY. She is currently a designer on the Guayaquil, Ecuador 250-hectare airport project with Perkins Eastman, NY. Silvia participated in CSUD events at Habitat 111 Quito in 2016, and the 2018 World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur, and is contributing to to the CSUD project, Accelerating the SDGs. She is a Fellow with the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization.

Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning currently Director of the Civic Data Design Project, which is new research lab that is part of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) School of Architecture and Planning School. The Civic Data Design Project develops innovative tools and techniques that allow for the visualization, collection and spatial analysis of the vast data sets we now store about the places we live. The lab employs data visualization and mapping techniques to expose and communicate urban patterns and policy issues to broader audiences. Williams is also currently faculty of MIT’s Graduate School of Architecture and Planning.