Ph.D. Students


Our Ph.D. students come from a variety of institutions and backgrounds. Read about them below.

Josh Bakin

Josh Bakin has worked as a chemist and engineer before joining the Urban Climate Lab. With a B.S. in Business from Colorado State University and a M.S. in Geosciences from Georgia State University, Josh is interested in efficient adaptive mitigation techniques as they relate to changing climates as well as the economic benefits and consequences of environmentally-minded planning decisions. He currently studies urban vs. rural warming rates using weather stations across the United States as well as the heat mitigation properties of urban tree canopies.


Helen Chen

Helen Chen is interested in better quantifying how urban design could improve resilience and quality of life in cities. Before coming to Georgia Tech, she worked in infrastructure and sustainability research, and in construction management. Helen has a BS in Civil Engineering and MSCEE with a focus on Construction Engineering and Management from Stanford University.


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
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.

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 Masters in City Planning  from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Bonwoo Koo

Bonwoo Koo's research focuses on measuring various dimensions of the built environment and how those measurements relate to human behavior and health. He is particularly interested in using emerging technologies and data to fine-tune the measurements of the built environment and its implications to the urban residents. He currently works as a research assistant with Dr. Nisha Botchwey and Dr. Subhro Guhathakurta.

Before joining the Ph.D. program, he worked at the Architecture and Urban Research Institute in South Korea. He holds master’s degrees in City and Regional Planning (Georgia Tech) and Landscape Architecture (Seoul National University), and a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design.


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. 

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.

Sian Llewellyn
Sian Llewellyn, AICP

Siân Llewellyn joined Georgia Tech as a PhD student in 2018 after two decades of practice with an international design and engineering firm.  Her experience in cities around the world predicated her research interest in the intersection of cities, technology and infrastructure investments in 21st Century cities.

At Georgia Tech, Siân is a graduate research assistant in a National Science Foundation funded study of the U.S. Robotics industry. She holds a master’s degree in City Planning (1998) from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Bachelor of Science in Finance (1985) and a Bachelor of Arts in History (1985) from the University of Florida.


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
Mark Sloan

Mark Sloan’s research interests involve the quest to create 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 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).


Alyas Abibawa Widita

Alyas Abibawa Widita’s research interests focus on understanding the influence of built environment on travel behavior. He is particularly interested in 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.


Chisun Yoo
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.