Ph.D. Students

 

Our Ph.D. students come from a variety of institutions and backgrounds. Read about them below, and contact Jessie Brandon at jessie@coa.gatech.edu if you need further information. 
 

Camille Barchers

Camille Barchers is researching public participation, urban growth models, and technology. She has taught the department's undergraduate Introduction to City & Regional Planning course and works as a research assistant.

Before beginning the Ph.D. program, Camille worked as a city planning consultant with Kimley-Horn and Associates, where she focused on regional scenario planning projects for clients throughout the Southeast and mid-Atlantic. She is a Leadership Fellow at Georgia Tech and serves as a facilitator in the freshman Grand Challenges program. She also serves on the Provost's Creating the Next in Education Commission.

Camille earned a dual B.S. from Cornell University in 2005 in Natural Resources and International Agriculture and Rural Development and a Masters of Regional Planning from Cornell in 2007.

 

Tommy Douthat
Thomas Douthat

Thomas Douthat's research interests are centered on questions of sustainable growth, land use law, and community development.

Having lived and traveled extensively in the Spanish speaking world, Thomas closely follows issues surrounding development and the environment in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Thomas holds a B.A. in Economics from Guilford College (’03) and a J.D. from U.P.R. School of Law ('08). He previously worked as a judicial clerk in San Juan, Puerto Rico and served as an AmeriCorps*Vista volunteer for a community development project in Puerto Rico.  He currently works as a GRA for his adviser Michael Elliott.

 

Tommy Douthat
Yunkyung Choi

Yunkyung Choi's research interests are centered on the interaction between transportation and land use, specifically on the relationship between transit-oriented development (TOD) and gentrification. She is currently working with Dr. Subhro Guhathakurta at the Center for Geographical Information Systems (GIS) as a research assistant, focusing on community resilience of mixed-use transit-oriented development.

Prior to beginning the Ph.D. program, Yunkyung worked at the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), and the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements (KRIHS). She holds a master's degree in Urban Planning (2014) from University of Southern California, and a B.S. (2008) and a M.S. (2010) in Housing and Interior Design from Kyung Hee University in South Korea.

 

Jessica Doyle phd student
Jessica Doyle 

Jessica Doyle's areas of research focus on the links between transportation infrastructure and economic development with respect to labor mobility and globalization.

 Jessica currently works as a researcher at Georgia Tech's Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development under Dr. Catherine Ross. She presented at the ACSP annual conference in 2007) and the joint ACSP and AESOP conference in 2008, in addition to attending the Ph.D. Jamboree hosted by the University of British Columbia's School of Community and Regional Planning in 2007.

Jessica holds a bachelor's degree in History from Swarthmore College and studied at Université de Grenoble in France. Prior to coming to Georgia Tech, she worked as editor of Global Executive, Economist.com's section trends on business innovation and management education. She also worked as a correspondent for The Economist, covering the Southeast United States.

 

Jessica Doyle phd student
Florina Dutt

Florina Dutt is a PhD student in the School of City and Regional Planning. Her research interests are centered on smart cities, IoT (internet of things), human sensing environment and participatory design approaches. She is currently working with Subhro Guhathakurta for IMAGINE lab at Center for Geographic Information Systems. Her research projects are focused on Campus User Experience Modeling & Urban Data Modeling and Visualization.

She holds a Master's degree in Architecture (2010) from University of Pennsylvania and pursued Master's degree in City and Regional Planning at Georgia Tech. Prior to beginning her studies at Georgia Tech; she has worked as an architect and urban designer in Shanghai, China.

 

Jessica Fisch
Jessica Fisch

Jessica Fisch’s research interests focus on issues of sustainability, social equity, and green infrastructure in cities. Before coming to Georgia Tech, she worked in planning and neighborhood revitalization in New Orleans. She is currently working as a research assistant with Dr. Michael Elliott.

Jessica holds a B.A. in Geography and a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Florida (2008), and a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans (2014).

 

Dana Habeeb phd student
Dana Habeeb

Dana Habeeb's research interests lie in exploring how cities will evolve due to global warming. She is specifically interested in examining the role of sea level rise on coastal communities.

Dana is a member of the Urban Climate Lab where she is working as a GRA for her advisor Dr. Brian Stone. Currently she is working on two CDC funded research projects which examine the role of development and design techniques on air quality and climate change. She is a board member of the Cabbagetown Initiative Community Development and works with the city to create new green space in her neighborhood.

Dana’s other interests include historical research, gardening, cooking, painting, sculpture (pumpkin carving is a favorite) and traveling. She is an avid dog lover and spends as much free time in Oakland Cemetery playing with her dog and appreciating the beautiful landscaping.

 

Nathanael Hoelzel phd student
Nathanael Hoelzel

Nathanael Hoelzel's research interests involve structures and performance of local governance and planning strategies for revitalizing manufacturing in inner-city neighborhoods impacted by brownfields. His dissertation is supported by a U.S. EPA STAR Fellowship. Nate has published in the Journal of the American Planning AssociationJournal of Industrial Ecology, and Progressive Planning. At Tech, he has held positions as a research assistant on the NSF-funded project Sustainable Industrial System for Urban Regions (SISFUR) and as a lead technical advisor for the City of Atlanta’s U.S. EPA Brownfields Area-wide Planning Pilot. Nate has spoken at national conferences about vacant properties, smart growth, and brownfield redevelopment and financing. Prior to joining Tech, he managed Cleveland’s industrial-commercial land bank and brownfield redevelopment programs.

Nathanael earned a B.S. degree in Environmental, Safety, and Occupational Health Management from the University of Findlay and a Master's degree in Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati.

 

Peter Hylton

Peter is a Ph.D. student in transportation planning at the Georgia Institute of Technology with a minor in operations management.  Peter works as a graduate research assistant at the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development.

Peter’s research interests relate to the transportation - land use connection fostered between freight movement and logistics facilities, such as distribution centers and intermodal hubs.  His work seeks to identify the ways in which transportation connectivity of various types promotes logistics clusters. 

He also researches transportation planning in megaregions.  Also known as ‘Connected Cities,’ megaregions are groupings of urban, suburban, and rural areas held together by persistent economic, transportation, social, and environmental connections.  Peter is interested in megaregions as the scale corresponding with transportation investment and operations ‘problem-sheds.’  He seeks to identify the transportation issues that correspond with the megaregion scale as well as opportunities for public-private collaboration in megaregions.

Before beginning the PhD program, Peter worked as a logistician for U.S. Army Forces Command.  He was also in the Georgia Governor’s Fellowship Program and has interned for the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium.  Peter earned a B.S. in International Affairs and Modern Language (French), as well as a Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP) from Georgia Tech.

 

 
Benjamin Kraft
Benjamin Kraft

Ben Kraft studies approaches to local and regional economic development and how they may (or may not) be able to promote lasting and equitable improvements in the quality of life of individuals and communities. 

Ben's professional experience includes working for the Washtenaw County (Michigan) Treasurer's Office and Office of Community and Economic Development, where he managed auctions of tax foreclosed property and Community Development Block Grant-funded housing and infrastructure projects. Previously, he helped build and locate wetlands while working as a land surveyor in Northern Virginia.

After earning a B.A. in English from The College of New Jersey in 2002, Ben went on to receive a M.A. in the Humanities from the University of Chicago in 2004, and then a Master's in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan in 2007. Ben has promised everyone who knows and loves him that this PhD will be his last degree. 

 

Kevin Lanza
Kevin Lanza

Kevin Lanza's research interests focus on environmental planning, specifically the urban heat island effect and its public health implications. He is currently a research assistant at the Urban Climate Laboratory under Dr. Brian Stone. 

Prior to beginning the PhD program, Kevin worked as an analytical chemist at a newborn screening laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA. 

Kevin earned a B.S. from Emory University in 2011 in Environmental Science. 

 

John Lee
Heonyeong Lee

Heonyeong Lee’s research interests lies in regional economic performance and planning and policy for improving regional economic resilience. He is currently participating in an NSF funded project, Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Processes and System (RIPS) as a research assistant. Prior to joining the PhD program, he worked at the Korea Environment Institute from 2013 to 2015 where he engaged in several studies on community development planning and policy evaluation. Heonyeong earned both a bachelor (2011) and master (2013) degree in Urban Planning and Engineering from Yonsei University.

 

John Lee
John Lee

John Lee began his studies at Georgia Tech in 2013 as part of Georgia Tech’s first class in the Master of Geographic Information Science and Technology program. John's research interests include understanding the significance and interrelationship of the multiple criteria that influence current and future land use within urban spaces. He envisions the development of a framework of ‘Best Practices’ methodologies for planners to follow in modeling urban change that will facilitate more accurate predictions of its impact on traffic congestion, the environment, and quality of life for a municipality regardless of their stage of growth culminating in a self-learning, self-adjusting system.

Since 2007, John has been an instructor at Southern Polytechnic State University in the Department of Civil Engineering Technology. While there one of his recent research projects included a quantitative assessment of wall stress and deformation and the collection techniques used to measure the data. The goal of the project was to validate the use of a rapid housing reconstruction technique which proposed using concrete rubble to rebuild temporary housing within the earthquake affected regions of Haiti.

Prior to joining Georgia Tech and Southern Polytechnic State University, John spent 21 years in telecommunications research and development at BellSouth in Atlanta GA, at EIRCOM in Dublin, Ireland and at AAPT in Sydney, Australia. He has degrees in Computer Science (BS ’85), Economics and Finance (MBA ’98), Surveying and Mapping (BS ’13) and Geographic Information Science Technology (MS ’14. He is currently leading a special projects team that is developing the Storm Preparedness Guidelines for the City of Atlanta. 

 

 
Yongsung Lee
Yongsung Lee

Yongsung Lee's research focuses are the relationship between urban form and travel behavior, and its implications to energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission. In his Master's Thesis, Yongsung wrote about the price elasticity of automobile gasoline and its variation depending on different urban forms and policies; all else being equal, the more compact urbanized areas are, the more sensitive to gasoline price their residents are. Recently, Yongsung is analyzing the impact of high energy price on urban form.

Before joining Georgia Tech, Yongsung worked as a research assistant at the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements (KRIHS) from 2008 to 2010. Yongsung earned a MUP (2012) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a M.E. in Architectural Planning (2008) and a B.S in Architecture (2003) from Seoul National University in South Korea.

 

Evan Mallen
Evan Mallen

Evan Mallen's research interests focus on climate adaptation planning, specifically though bridging the communication gap between climate scientists and planners, risk management, and use of climate analogs in adaptation planning. He currently works as a research assistant in the Urban Climate Lab with Dr. Brian Stone.

Prior to joining the Ph.D. program, Evan worked as a research associate for the Graham Sustainability Institute's Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities and the University of Michigan School of Public Health studying inter-urban communication in climate adaptation and heat vulnerability. He also organized and participated in community skill-sharing events through the Ann Arbor ReSkilling Festival and other local-scale service and education organizations.

Evan holds a BS in Physics and a Master's in Urban and Regional Planning, both from the University of Michigan.

 

 
Elora Raymond photo
Elora Raymond

Elora Raymond's research interests include housing wealth inequality, the political economy of mortgage markets, and the impact of real estate finance on urban form.

Elora is a graduate research assistant at the Center for Real Estate Analytics at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Recent projects include: work on the uneven housing market recovery in Atlanta, the spatial distribution of underwater mortgages in the Southeastern United States, a quantitative assessment of the impact of brokered deposits on bank owned real estate during the most recent financial crisis, and an investigation into interlocking changes in cultural understandings of property and formal institutions of land tenure in Samoa.

Prior to joining Georgia Tech, Elora worked as an analyst in healthcare finance at Partners Healthcare in Boston, MA, and assisted faculty research at Goizueta Business School at Emory University. She has a B.A. in History from Brown University and spent a year at London School of Economics studying Economic History.

 

Elora Raymond photo
Mark Sloan

Mark Sloan’s research interests involve the quest to create more sustainable urban living environment through study of the influence of space (the occupiable voids between buildings) on human social and consumptive behaviors. He seeks to find “tipping points” for new models, codes, and assessments that create better exterior spaces for people, that improve economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

Mark is a recently retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, who served as an Air Force Civil Engineer, with assignments at Headquarters US Air Force at the Pentagon, and on command staffs at US Air Forces in Europe and Air Force Global Strike Command.  He is a two-time squadron commander, including Base Civil Engineer and Commander of a civil engineer squadron in the Middle East, and later Commander of the Air Force’s civil engineer technical school.  He most recently served as Deputy Director for the Air Force’s worldwide design and construction directorate at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center in San Antonio, Texas. 

After earning a B. Design in Architecture from the University of Florida in 1991, Mark then earned his M. Arch professional degree from the University of Florida in 1993, and an M.S. in Strategic Leadership from the Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton, Ohio in 2006.  He is also a graduate of Air War College (distance learning program).

 

Marty   Sung
Sangwoo “Marty” Sung

Marty Sung's major research interest is exploring how geographic information systems (G.I.S.) and database applications can be used to simulate future land use change depending on different energy and climate change policies on both urban and regional scales.

Marty is involved in several research projects related to seismic risk assessments and urban land use change modeling at metro scale using G.I.S. applications. Recently, he has delved into the topic of comprehensive energy and carbon footprint analyses for sustainable urban development types. He works at the Center for Geographic Information Systems at Georgia Tech as a research and teaching assistant under the supervision of Professor Steven P. French.

He received a B.S. (1998) and a M.S. (2000) in Urban Engineering from Hanyang University, Korea, and master’s degree in City and Regional Planning (2004) from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Aside from his academic life, he loves spring, wine, coffee, photography, and above all, his family.

 

Fangru Wang
Fangru Wang

Fangru Wang’s research interests include transportation planning, urban growth modeling, and exploring the relationship between transportation and the built environment. She is currently a research assistant at the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development.

Having grown up in China, Fangru is concerned about the issues surrounding transportation and urban growth in developing countries. Before coming to Georgia Tech, she worked as an intern at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority headquarters in New York, where she focused on transit-oriented development.

Fangru has a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania (2013) and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Tongji University (2011).

 

Kyungsoon Wang

Kyungsoon Wang’s research interests lie in the housing and real estate markets, community and economic development, neighborhood revitalization and stability, finance for housing and urban development, and Geographic Information System applications in planning research. She is also interested in smart growth and transit-oriented development, spatial analysis, and econometrics. Her dissertation explores the determinants of resilience of neighborhood housing in the context of metropolitan housing markets during and after the recent U.S. housing crisis.

Wang has actively participated in research projects on housing, urban, and regional issues and policies in the U.S. and East Asia. Her research has resulted in publications in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Urban Affairs, Housing Studies, and the Journal of Land, Housing, and Urban Affairs, numerous research reports, and presentations at national and international conferences, including the American Planning Association (APA), the Urban Affairs Association, the Association of American Geographers, the North American Meetings of the Regional Science Association, and the International Conference on Development and Cooperation in East Asian countries. She is also a reviewer of Urban Studies and the Journal of Planning Education and Research for possible publication. Her research on the impact of smart growth initiatives on home values was awarded a research grant by the Housing Community Development Division of the APA in 2010, and she was awarded the Korea Foundation Fellowship in 2011.

Wang has worked as a planner and a researcher at various planning and economic institutes and organizations: the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the Atlanta Regional Commission (the Metropolitan Planning Organization), the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade, and the Environmental Planning Institute at Seoul National University. She holds a master's degree from the School of City and Regional Planning at Georgia Tech, a master's degree in urban planning and design from the Graduate School of Environment Studies at Seoul National University, and a bachelor’s degree from the Department of Urban Engineering at the University of Seoul.

 

Alyas Abibawa Widita

Alyas Abibawa Widita’s research interests focus on understanding the influence of built environment on travel behavior. He is particularly interested to exploring this subject in cities in developing world, especially his home country Indonesia, where the built environment characteristics are arguably different from the industrialized-world cities.

Before beginning the Ph.D. program at Georgia Tech, he worked as a lecturer at the Department of Architecture and Planning, Gadjah Mada University where he taught undergraduate courses and design studio. He currently works as a research assistant at the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development under Dr. Timothy Welch.

Alyas completed his master’s studies in urban planning at the University of Iowa as a Fulbright scholar from 2013 to 2015. One of the highlights of his Fulbright journey was his participation traversing the US by train from Portland to New York in 10 days as part of Millennial Trains Project. He earned a B.Eng. in Architecture from Gadjah Mada University (2012) and did a one-year undergraduate exchange program at Escuela Tecnica Superior Arquitectura y Geodesia, Universidad de Alcala, Spain as an Erasmus Mundus scholar that allowed him to travel extensively across Europe.

 

Wenwen Zhang
Wenwen Zhang

Wenwen Zhang's research focuses on how land use and transportation systems interact with each other along with the energy consumption and GHG emissions associated with the urban transportation system. She also has a strong interest in visualizing data with web-based applications. Currently, she works as a research assistant at the Center for Geographic Information Systems (GIS). 

Before joining the Ph.D. program, Wenwen completed a dual degree program (city planning & civil engineering) at Georgia Tech. She earned her bachelors degree in engineering with a specialty in city planning from Zhejiang University in China.