Research Fellows

Resumes and contact information are available for some Research Fellows. Please click on their photos to download their CVs and email addresses.

Sai Balakrishnan

Sai Balakrishnan has a Masters in City Planning from MIT and a PhD in Urban Planning from Harvard. Her doctoral dissertation looked at ongoing land conflicts in India and focused on land cooperatives as hybrid institutional solutions to resolving land conflicts during an urban transition. She is currently a postdoctoral research scholar at the Center on Global Legal Transformation at the Columbia Law School and is working on property rights and globalization.

Sergio David Gómez Barrera

Sergio is a political scientist and urban manager in Colombia. His research interests include governance, accountability, and land and housing policies. He worked in the design, analysis, evaluation, and approval of development projects in both public and private sectors for six years. His professional interest includes the design and management of programs related to land administration and promotion of social housing in Colombia as well as other developing countries.  

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Andrea Cheng

Andrea Cheng has 15 years of investment research experience, focusing on financial institutions and sub-sovereign credit risk. She recently completed a Master in City Planning degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she studied the management of public space and alternative, informal land tenure arrangements. At the LG Lab, Andrea works on land value capture mechanisms for creating resilient and inclusive urban development. She also investigates the relationships between urban form, density, and infrastructure for the MIT Density Atlas project. 

Latha Chhetri

Latha is a Chief Urban Planner with the Ministry of Works & Human Settlement in Bhutan. She heads the Urban Planning and Development Division which oversees planning and design process for specific urban development projects across the country, including coordinating government agencies and private stakeholders. Her  office also provides technical support and advice to the urban centers  for implementation. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Civil engineering from Kakatiya  University in Warangal, India and a Masters Degree in Urban Design and Development  from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. At MIT, she is attending a Special Program on Urban and Regional Studies.


Mitchell Cook

Mitchell Cook is a PhD student in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. His work focuses on the intersections of metropolitan governance, municipal finance reform, and national development in India and Latin America. In addition to the technical elements of fiscal decentralization, Mitchell is particularly interested in understanding how local governments manage political, administrative, and institutional challenges to successfully implement municipal finance reform and improve local service delivery. He has consulted for the Asian Development Bank, the Observatory on Latin America, and the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy in New Delhi. 


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Sarah D'Alexander

Sarah is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and Environmental Studies and a minor in Spanish. She is a founding member of the LG Lab and is currently the Executive Secretary of Communication and Management of the organization, overseeing the designs of the strategies for disseminating research outputs and internal communication and coordination. Sarah studies the creation of environmentally and economically sustainable site plans and housing designs to improve the livelihoods of internally displaced persons living in unsafe conditions in Baghdad, Iraq. 


Wanli Fang

Wanli Fang holds a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from MIT. She studies international development issues from the perspectives of urban and regional economics and public finance. Her dissertation systematically assessed the impacts of transport infrastructure investments on the efficiency, scale and distribution of urban economic activities, using China’s high-speed rail as a specific case. Since 2010, she has served as a consultant for the World Bank on a variety of financial aid and technical assistance projects on urbanization, transport investments, economic development and municipal finance. She will be co-teaching introductory economics classes at DUSP, MIT starting September 2013.


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Andrea Hong

Andrea is an undergraduate student at The Ohio State University (OSU), studying City and Regional Planning, Urban Design, and Music. She is a member of E. Row in The Best Damn Band in the Land at OSU. As a founding member of the LG Lab, Andrea created the logo for the organization and participated in site planning for several proposed land-sharing pilots in Baghdad, Iraq. In May 2013, Andrea traveled to Ghana with a group of OSU students to implement 8 development projects. Her role was to create a technical manual for implementing sustainable and innovative development for the Offinso North District in the Ashanti region. Andrea is also studying the cultural and language barriers of communicating planning concepts to different stakeholders in developing countries.


Yu-Hung Hong

After working in the international development field for over two decades, Hong likes to spend more time in utilize his experience and knowledge to serve the urban poor in developing countries. His mission is to find win-win solutions to improve the livelihoods of all underprivileged groups living in urban informal settlements. He is also committed to act as a facilitator to provide young scholars who share his aspirations with the opportunitities to undertake pro-poor and gender sensitive development programs around the world. 


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Elena V. Korotkova 

Elena is an urban economist from Moscow, Russia. She worked for the GIPROGOR urban planning institute, specializing in land taxation and valuation, land use planning, and socio-economic forecast, as well as managing urban and regional planning teams. She has also developed affordable public housing and infrastructure public-private participation policies for the Russian government. Elena’s Ph.D. dissertation at the Plekhanov’s Economic Academy explored the Russian land evaluation system and public finance. At MIT, she is researching on land legislation, municipal budgeting, and public functions of cities.

Carolina Morgan

Carolina is a student at MIT's Masters in City Planning and Real Estate Development programs. Her current research interests include land-based public finance and policy for addressing informal settlements. She previously worked at the Institute for International Urban Development in Cambridge, MA where she specialized in strategic urban planning,  socioeconomic research and analysis, mapping and data visualization. She was involved in developing strategic plans for cities in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, and carried out research on urban development issues in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. 

Sandra Ricon 

Sandra has an undergraduate degree in Government and International Relations at the Externado de Colombia University, specializing in international cooperation and development. Currently, she is finishing a master’s degree in Urban Management and Development at the Center of International Housing Studies at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. She has worked as an analyst, manager, and evaluator of development projects in Colombia. Her research interests are in urban planning, land administration, development, public management, governance, and public participation, focusing on social inclusiveness.


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Layla Shaikley

Layla is a Master of Science in Architecture graduate from MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, and is professionally an architect. Layla started her design career at NASA. From there, she worked on development projects in Iraq, India, Belarus, Kuwait and Brazil. She served as an MIT Special Interest Group in Urban Settlements Fellow, where she researched and analyzed governmental low-income housing settlements in Manaus, Amazonas. She presented her work amongst practitioners at UN-HABITAT’s World Urban Forum 2012 in Naples, Italy. Layla used the data obtained from her research in writing a thesis on low-incoming housing in post-conflict zones while serving as a graduate researcher within MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning. 


Pranita Shrestha

Pranita Shrestha has a Bachelor degree in Architecture from School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), New Delhi; Masters in Urban Ecological Planning from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway and is currently a PhD student at NTNU, Norway. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on understanding the formation and development of three specific squatter settlements in Kathmandu, the capital city of a rapidly urbanizing country in South Asia. This research uses a social network analysis to investigate how issues of power influence the dynamics of informalorganization and shape their impact on wider processes of governance. She plans to complete her dissertation by the end of this year and pursue further research in this field.  


Julia Tierney

Julia is in the doctoral program in City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. She researches international urbanism with a comparative perspective in Brazil and Lebanon, specifically how urban insecurity is problematizated and the implications of security on urban governance. Her thesis on the pacification police in Rio de Janeiro won the award for outstanding master's thesis from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Department of Urban Studies and Planning. She is also interested in the intersection of urban violence and urban upgrading based on her experience working for the World Bank's urban and water unit in Brazil.

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Yuqi Wang

Yuqi is a Master in City Planning student at MIT. She has a background in national and regional economic & social policy in China, with a focus on affordable housing and land development. From a planning perspective, she is particularly interested in the dynamic between the economic, physical and visual qualities of the built environment at the city, neighborhood and real estate project scales. Her current thesis research on Smart Growth looks at various land use planning, neighborhood plan, and urban design strategies, analyzing their impact on people's living experiences, especially on the underprivileged groups.