Ph.D. and master's students in seminar course

Meet Our Ph.D. Students

Meet Our Ph.D. Students

Our Ph.D. students come from a variety of different academic and professional backgrounds. Each student goes on to a fruitful career in either academia or professional practice.

Gabriel Appiah

Gabriel Appiah’s research focuses on analyzing people’s perceptions and experiences on safety regarding ride-sharing. His ongoing projects include shifting patterns in data sources and techniques used in geographic and spatially enabled research and GIS mapping for Meals on Wheels. Dr. Clio Andris is his advisor; he is part of the Friendly Cities Lab in the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization (CSPAV).

Gabriel holds an M.A Urban and Regional Studies from Minnesota State University and B.S. Development Planning from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana. Before joining the doctoral program, he worked as a Regional Planner II at Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council, IA.

Josh Ayers

Josh Ayers’ research interests focus on the intersection of rapid urbanization in the Global South with the worsening impact of natural hazards as a result of climate change on the lives of those living in informal settlements. Specifically, his research aims to better understand how urban and regional planning policies influence the risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and resilience opportunities for informal settlements in urban contexts.  Josh is advised by Dr. Steve French and works with him as a research assistant on the multi-institutional, NIST-funded IN-CORE project as part of the broader Center for Risk-Based Community Resilience Planning

 Prior to beginning the Ph.D. program, Josh spent nearly 20 years in the humanitarian sector working with international NGOs in the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), Climate Change Adaptation (CCA), and Resilience sectors.  Most recently, Josh was the Director of Risk & Resilience programs globally for Food for the Hungry.  He holds an M.A. in Development & Emergency Practice from Oxford Brookes University in Oxford, UK and a B.S. in Building Construction from Georgia Tech.       

Yunkyung Choi

Yunkyung Choi's research interests are centered on the interaction between transportation and land use, particularly for the impact of innovative/disruptive technology on the transportation sector. She is currently working with Dr. Guhathakurta at the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization (CSPAV) as a research assistant, focusing on the relationship between public transit and ride-sourcing in the age of shared mobility.

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

Megan Conville

Megan Conville’s research interests focus on discrimination and access to housing. Specifically, she focuses on affordable housing spaces. Megan is advised by Dr. Elora Lee Raymond and is working with her as a research assistant. At this time, Megan is working on projects focused on evictions and disaster-based migration.

Before moving to sunny Atlanta, Megan worked in sales operations in not-so-sunny London. Prior to that, she was on the data team at a community-based nonprofit in even-less-sunny Seattle. Megan holds a B.A. in Business Administration, International Business from Seattle University (2016) and her M.S. in Global Economic Governance and Policy from SOAS, University of London (2019).

Florina Dutt

Florina Dutt’s research interests are centered on smart cities, internet of things (IoT), human sensing environment and participatory design approaches. She is currently working with Dr. Subhro Guhathakurta in the IMAGINE lab at the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization. Her research projects are focused on Campus User Experience Modeling & Urban Data Modeling and Visualization.

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

Uijeong Hwang

Uijeong Hwang's research interests lie in the fields of urban and economic geography, spatial data analytics and urban informatics. He hopes to deepen the understanding of a link between the built environment and travel behavior through the lens of urban sustainability. As a research assistant at the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization, He is currently working with Dr. Subhro Guhathakurta on a research project on On-Demand Multimodal Transit Systems focusing on its infrastructure and network connectivity.

Before joining the doctoral program, Uijeong worked at the Seoul Institute and the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements in South Korea. He holds a B.S. and a M.S. in Urban Planning and Design, both from the University of Seoul.

Nene Igietseme

Nene Igietseme’s research interests focus on the intersection of “new/alternative” economic development, culture change/dominant narrative shift, and youth/multigenerational organizing.

Before beginning the Ph.D. program, Nene worked as a trainer with Center for Story-Based Strategy (formerly Smart Meme). She also worked with the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative to build a political/popular education “economic democracy” curriculum for membership based organizations to use to mobilize their membership to build new economic institutions, and was the Leadership Development Director for Project HIP-HOP, a youth social justice arts organization.

Nene earned a B.A. in Government from Harvard University and a Master of City Planning degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Heon Yeong Lee

Heon Yeong Lee’s research interests are in regional economic performance and planning 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 Ph.D. program, he worked at the Korea Environment Institute from 2013-2015 where he engaged in several studies on community development planning and policy evaluation. Heonyeong earned both a bachelor’s (2011) and master’s (2013) degree in Urban Planning and Engineering from Yonsei University.

Xiaofan Liang

Xiaofan Liang's research interests revolve around spatial social networks, urban analytics (GIS, machine learning, and agent-based modeling), and digital civics/critical data/engagement methods in spatial planning. Liang is advised by Dr. Clio Andris under the Friendly Cities Lab in CSPAV. Her papers were published in Environmental Planning B and as a book chapter in Urban Informatics and Future Cities, reported by CityLab, and presented at AAG, CUPUM, IEEE Vis, ACSP, and NARSC conferences. In her free time, she serves as the research head at MaxLab.

Before joining the Ph.D. program, she received a B.A. in Sociology from UC-Berkeley (2013-2015), a B.S. in Computational Science from Minerva University (2015-2019), and spent two summers at Santa Fe Institute (2017-2018) researching the complexity of scaling higher education institutions. 

Meaghan McSorley

Meaghan McSorley is a PhD student in the school of city and regional planning at Georgia Tech and a research assistant in the Healthy Places Lab with Dr. Nisha Botchwey, as well as the Smart Sea Level Sensors (SSLS) project based in Savannah, GA. She is also a Georgia Tech Institute Fellow and a member of the inaugural cohort of GRA scholars in the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems. Her research focuses on the “people side” of sustainability, and the question of how we can plan for healthy, equitable, and thriving cities for all. Specifically, she is interested the role of culture, history, and emotions in helping us develop just approaches to climate change issues that center on the margins and create space for imagining thriving futures. Prior to returning to graduate school, she also worked at an electronic medical records software company for four years in a variety of implementation and management roles. She holds degrees in urban & regional planning (MURP) and public health (MPH), both from the University of Minnesota; and in anthropology and French (BA) from Cornell University.


Katie OConnell

Katie OConnell is a certified data nerd with a focus on community empowerment through data democratization.  As project manager of the Communities Who Know (formerly Westside Communities Alliance) Data Dashboard, Ms. OConnell developed an online platform that translated complex data to diverse audiences and communicated the relevance of data as a key decision-making tool.

She has worked on other digital data projects including the International Human Trafficking Institute Dashboard, and the Neighborhood Quality of Life and Health Project. As part of a collaborative team, she researched and developed the Measuring the Dream Index, which tracked changes in racial equity between 1950-2014 across multiple measures.

Ms. OConnell is a doctoral student in the School of City and Regional Planning at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her current research interests include historical dominant and counter-narratives around citywide development projects, the social injustices inherent in traditional data ownership structures, and tools to bridge the gap between quantitative and qualitative data. Ms. OConnell has Bachelor degrees in Environmental Economics, Spanish, and Anthropology from the University of Georgia and a Masters in City and Regional Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology. 

Mark Sloan

Mark Sloan’s research interests center on creating more sustainable urban living environments 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 U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon, and on command staffs at U.S. 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).

Chisun Yoo

Chisun's research interest lies in various fields, including social influence of the built environment, sustainability, regional planning, and urban history. He has bachelor’s (2014) and master’s degrees in Urban planning from Hanyang University, Korea.

Before joining the Ph.D. program, he worked at a government-affiliated research institute, Gyeonggi Research Institute in Korea. Currently he is working at the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development for Dr. Catherine Ross. 


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