Research Affiliates

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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. Email:

Jennifer van den Bussche

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Jennifer van den Bussche 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. She studied architecture at Deakin University, Australia, and will complete a Masters in International and Community Development in 2015. As Global Studio Johannesburg project manager, Jennifer contributed to the success of Global Studio from 2007-09. In addition to Sticky Situations (founded 2010), she co-ordinates the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation’s (GSAPP) Studio X projects and activities in South Africa.

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.