Current Student Information
Students in Department of City and Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah College of Architecture + Planning come from diverse academic and professional backgrounds. It is this diversity and enthusiasm for the discipline that makes our program unique.
Meet some of our students:
JULIE ANDERSON (MCMP)
I’ve had a fascination with cities ever since traveling to Europe after graduating from the University of Utah with a Bachelors in Film Studies. When I moved to New York City that summer, my passion for cities and public transit grew. I love traveling and experiencing new cities whenever I can. Salt Lake and the U are great places to learn about planning!
MAX BACKLUND (MCMP)
I grew up in Pleasant Grove, Utah. After graduating from BYU with a degree in English Literature, I started law school at the U, and am concurrently earning my Master of City Planning degree. I plan to work in land use and real estate development law, and look forward to the variety of opportunities this degree will afford me after graduation. Outside of school, I like to mountain bike, play golf, and write creative non-fiction.
The first city I fell in love with was Stockholm, Sweden. The city is built on fourteen islands, and I loved to explore the city through its canals and waterways. The old European architecture, next to modern business towers told the story of a city balancing the old and the new in a confined space. It was the first time I stopped missing mountains and starting liking cities.
WILL BECKER (MCMP)
As a native of Salt Lake City I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy a unique urban setting that is minutes from beautiful natural surroundings. The Wasatch Mountains that bound Salt Lake Valley’s growing urban population is home to wildlife, offer amazing outdoor recreation, and provide the natural resources that sustain human life. Watching urban areas like Salt Lake City grow while managing and protecting their natural resources has been a driving force throughout my academic career and has motivated my desire for a profession in planning.
As a University of Utah Master of City and Metropolitan Planning student, I intend to use my degree to create and enhance vibrant communities, while increasing people’s quality of life through smart sustainable planning.
GRACE BJARNSON (PhD)
I was born in Indiana, but have spent a majority of my life in a variety of places in Utah. Although severely shy at a young age, I had a passion for the performing arts. Throughout my schooling I became heavily involved in a variety of performing arts. And in 2000 I graduated with honors with a bachelor of science in theatre and a minor in voice from Southern Utah University. After graduating I directed a performing arts school for children, and directed and designed sets for a variety of plays in Utah Valley.
After an eight year break from school I came to realize that I needed more education and was considering becoming an architect due to my design background. But after I read the description of the planning program at the University of Utah I realized that planning was really my interest because it integrated a variety of disciplines and dealt with the interplay between our culture and society and how we support our way of life through our environment. In 2009 I received a master degree in city and metropolitan planning from the University of Utah with an emphasis in sustainability. I received the 2008-2009 student innovation award while obtaining my degree. One of my most memorable planning experiences took place in 2009 while assisting Envision Utah in organizing the Jordan River Interim Planning Committee process. This process, which pushed forward the implementation of Blueprint Jordan River, included the representation of Salt Lake, Davis, and Utah counties, and 15 cities located next to the Jordan River. This experience taught me how important relationships, politics, and patience are in the planning process.
My primary focus in the Metropolitan Planning, Policy and Design doctoral program is the integration of values research in the planning field. My goal is to assist communities in creating planning processes and networks that are more flexible, creative, and self empowering. My intention is to continue research on this subject after receiving my doctorate, as well as teach and work within the field. I recently remarried and have four children ranging from age six to sixteen. I enjoy spending time working on our house, singing, and hanging out with my family, cat, and dog.
DINA BLAES (MCMP, graduated 5/12)
A native of Utah, I moved to New York City to study architecture at Parsons School of Design. After leaving Parsons, and working for a while in a contemporary art gallery in Soho, I returned to school to study art & architectural history at Columbia University. One would think that a degree in architectural history would be about as useful as a degree in philosophy, but to my delight I landed a great job at the Utah Heritage Foundation upon returning to SLC in 1991. I worked as the Assistant Director of this statewide historic preservation organization for a decade. Since leaving UHF, I have been a private historic preservation consultant working with building owners to secure project financing, to apply for federal and state rehabilitation tax credits, and to find the right architects and contractors to complete the job. I also work with municipal planning offices to augment their in-house preservation staff as well as to oversee and complete special projects as needed.
It is the work with cities and towns that prompted me to return to the University for a Master’s degree in City & Metropolitan Planning. Over the last two decades, historic preservation has become more fully integrated with public planning activities and understanding the perspective of planners and the planning field has and will continue to benefit my private practice.
TRACEY BUSHMAN (MCMP)
I am a Graduate Student in City and Metropolitan Planning with a background in graphic design. I am interested in how planning affects underrepresented populations and how incorporating informal and incremental flexibility into the participatory design process can reach these populations to facilitate visioning by communities.
RYAN CHAMPLIN (PhD)
An urban fanatic and freelance writer, Ryan feels fortunate to be joining the faculty and students in the Department of Metropolitan Planning, Policy, and Design as a first-year Ph.D. student. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Northern Arizona University, Ryan became interested in how people and their physical and social environments mutually shape and reshape one another, which led to enrolling in the master’s degree program at University of Utah’s Department of Family and Consumer Studies. Ryan studied both Community-Based Social Marketing and people’s preferences for urban and suburban environments under Dr. Barbara Brown, a leading expert in the field of environmental psychology. While completing that degree, Ryan interned with Envision Utah, contributing painstakingly to the survey analysis, GIS work, and report writing for the Blueprint Jordan River and Envision Morgan projects. After graduating, Ryan took a job planning social and economic revitalization programs in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, a region that was born, enriched, and subsequently strangled by its own preeminent steel industry. One day, after picking up Jane Jacobs’ Life and Death from a city library, Ryan had an epiphany: Jacobs’ warning of the perils of over-specialization and over-success – two conditions that are venerated in traditional economic thought – was showing itself to be devastatingly true, not only in the small cities of the Lehigh Valley, but also in the big cities of the Rust Belt and the mining towns of the rural Southeast. It is not exactly clear how much has changed in this regard. There is obviously something not quite right about many of our accepted economic development strategies, and this realization has driven Ryan to find out how cities and economies really work. Other than economic development, Ryan’s interests span many different spheres, including psychology, physics, ecology, policy and politics, philosophy, religion, architecture, history, nutrition, ancient Anglo-Saxon and Nordic culture and language, music, sports, and Italian wine and cuisine (the real way to this man’s heart).
ROGER CHILD (PhD)
Roger is a first year Doctoral Candidate in the University of Utah department of City and Metropolitan Planning. Roger has worked in the real estate industry for 30 years. He has worked for architectural firms and real estate developers. For the last 15 years he has been employed with Property Reserve Inc. where he manages a portfolio of land assets that are transitioning from agricultural uses to other residential and commercial uses. His responsibilities are to oversee this transition. Managing this transition requires activities in planning, interfacing with municipalities, economic analysis, acquisition of properties, as well as disposition of properties. These responsibilities have taught him the value of quality research and planning. With degrees in Finance, Economics, and Masters of Business Administration, he felt that he needed to balance out his education with an advanced degree in Planning. In addition to his current degrees, Roger has been licensed as a real estate broker, appraiser, and as a certified commercial investment member (CCIM).
CARL DUKE (PhD)
I was lucky to identify my passion for real estate at an early age. I spent summers working construction or sitting on a back-hoe installing water pipes. I was always fascinated with land and why it developed in the way it did. After graduating from Brigham Young University with degrees in Russian and International Studies I pursued a JD/MBA from the University of Utah as I thought it would be the best degree to prepare me for a career in real estate. It was never my intention to practice law but the training was extremely helpful in teaching me how to approach a problem from numerous perspectives.
My first job as an analyst at a local real estate consulting firm began exposing me to the world of planning, yet it was not until my current job where I oversee complex entitlement projects that I became aware of how much I didn’t know about a critical field of real estate – planning. I love being back in school to continue my investigation on why land develops in the manner it does. When not in class or at work I love spending time with my children and wife. Our favorite family activity is hiking and cycling together.
ANDREA GARFINKEL-CASTRO (PhD)
Being able to ask “why?” in the company of others is a gift and a luxury. I feel privileged to be a PhD student at the U, free to ask questions and pursue understandings in the company of great minds. As long as I can remember, I’ve asked questions about the world around me. A question I first asked as a nine-year-old still lingers, as fresh to me now as then. At the time, I was with my family vacationing and visiting extended family in Mexico. I became aware for the first time that things were not equitable or just in this world. I’ve been asking why ever since. While I may never answer this question to my full satisfaction, I’m pursuing my PhD in urban planning to at least understand the forces that shape our social and material world. Within a social, cultural, political and economic context, my research emphasis in on place and identity, our place of ‘home’ in particular, and on the processes that shape place.
I’m at the U by way of Arizona State University, having finished my Master’s in Urban and Environmental Planning in 2010 with a thesis that examined personal roots—the Latino cultural landscape. I completed my BA in Design Studies, along with a Barrett Honor’s College degree (summa cum laude) at ASU in 2008 after transferring in from community college. I re-entered school 30 years after being forced to drop out, and at the time, as a single-mother of three having completed only up to the 6th grade, I couldn’t even imagine getting an associate’s degree. I feel honored and incredibly grateful for the support of scholarships, grants and mentoring I’ve received. Many have walked beside me along my academic path, including my three children and loving partner John. It’s been the journey of a lifetime getting here. But now that I’m here, I finally feel like I’m home.
CHELSEA GAUTHIER (MCMP)
Originally a ballerina from Alabama, I followed my artistic passion to Salt Lake City. While in the west, I became fascinated with the connection of people to the places we live in and how both the built and natural environments facilitate such connections. I became attached to the beauty of the mountains, the natural nuances within our city, and the unique identity and community character of the region. After graduating from the University of Utah with a BS in Urban Planning, I decided to further pursue my interests in historic preservation and urban ecology. My graduate studies focus on rediscovering, preserving, and restoring our communities, specifically illuminating the complexities, interconnections, and importance of maintaining a harmonic relationship between our urban and natural ecosystems.
J.P. Goates (MCMP)
J.P. Goates is a Research Analyst at the University of Utah Metropolitan Research Center and Adjunct Instructor for the Department of City and Metropolitan Planning. He holds undergraduate degrees in Graphic Communication, Urban Planning and a Master of City and Metropolitan Planning. He has a diverse background in graphics, software development, GIS analysis, transportation, and land use planning.
J.P. began his career as a graphic artist and 3D modeler of video game environments. When he was done playing games, he expanded into a real profession of GIS and planning. His background in design, however, has served the planning field well. In addition to teaching, he has worked on numerous transportation and environmental projects statewide in analysis, public engagement, and documentation capacities. As part of the HUD sustainable communities grant, J.P. holds a key role in development of the Envision Tomorrow Plus planning support system.
AMIR HAJRASOULIHA (PhD)
I was born and raised in Tehran, the largest city in Western Asia. Tehran has always been the source of my fascination with urban life and its relationship with urban form. After graduating with degrees in Architecture and Urbanism from Shahid Beheshti University and Tehran University, I pursued my professional life as an architect and planner working on urban redevelopment projects, mainly in the metropolitan area of Tehran. Since then, the multidisciplinary field of urban design has become the center of my interest, and still my main question is how urban designers can contribute to making a good city.
Graduating from the master of urban design program at the University of Michigan helped me address urban design issues in different contexts that I used to work on. Also, I was lucky to be a member of the University of Michigan team that won the 2011 ULI/ Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition. Joining the Metropolitan Planning, Policy and Design PhD program at the University of Utah has been a great opportunity for me to continue my investigation on the integration of urban form, social issues, aesthetical concerns, and environmental realities. Meanwhile, whenever I find an the time, I go back and visit my source of inspiration, Tehran.
SHIMA HAMIDI (PhD)
My initial interest in architecture and urban design started in childhood. I was born in Isfahan, a historical city in Iran, and the contrasting appearance between the modern and old buildings was fascinating for me. I found architecture as the answer to my endless questions. I was admitted to study architecture at the University of Shiraz, Iran. After graduation, I worked as a research assistant at the Iran University of Science and Technology, Iran where I researched sustainable principles of traditional Persian architecture.
Completing this project raised a new question in my mind: “How have these sustainable components coupled with the cultural beliefs of people made the whole structure of the city different from other countries?” I then moved to Malaysia, a country with cultural similarities to Iran, to study Urban Design at University of Technology, Malaysia. This study led to a new interest in transportation planning, with an emphasis on new approaches like Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and Smart Growth which I incorporated into my Master’s research topic. After completing my masters, I worked as a research associate for almost one year to extend the findings of my thesis.
Pursuing a PhD at the University of Utah Metropolitan Research Centre gives me a chance to improve my knowledge in walkability and transportation and continue my research on other topics such as urban sprawl, food deserts, building energy consumption and housing affordability.
HOLLY HILTON (PhD)
Holly is a third year PhD student in the Metropolitan Planning, Policy and Design PhD program. Holly is currently working as a Policy Assistant in the Salt Lake City Mayor’s office where she has worked on such projects as the North Temple Viaduct reconstruct, TIGER Streetcar Funding requests, and research for various policy recommendations. She earned an MPP with an emphasis in environmental policy, and a BS in Psychology from the University of Utah. She is interested in the impact of the built environment on sustainability and natural systems. Her dissertation will focus on the connection between land use – specifically sprawl versus density – and its impact on water consumption.
JENNIFER J. JOHNSON (MCMP)
“This is the Moment” is the name of a Broadway song, but, to me, a daily mantra. Having completed my “first life” as a writer, marketer, and entrepreneur, I am now at the dawn of my second. No not as an avatar, but as a curious re-imaginer: One interested in leaving the planet better than I entered it, and in marked fashion. Sustainable MegaCities is my self-ascribed study within the CMP program. Starting Spring 2011, I have traveled to China to explore transit, compact development, and splendid mixed-use on college campuses. While there, I had the honor of co-publishing and presenting a paper at an international conference. I have had the opportunity to enjoy class from many of our professors, and with many of you colleagues. This is the Moment!
KEUNTAE KIM (PhD)
Keuntae will become a first year PhD student at the department of City and Metropolitan Planning in Fall 2012. As his academic career, he held his undergraduate degree of architecture at Ajou University, finished his master’s degree in city planning from Seoul National University, and completed another Master degree of City and Regional Planning at Georgia Institute of Technology. While taking master’s courses, he participated in various research projects at Seoul National University such as transit-oriented development and housing management plans for company towns in Korea. In particular, while participating in Fort McPherson Redevelopment, Atlanta during the urban design studio at Georgia Tech, he developed his academic interest in participatory urban planning and neighborhood redevelopment and wrote his master thesis on the impact of form-based codes and conventional zoning on Fort McPherson Redevelopment, Atlanta. As his professional career, he worked as an assistant research fellow at Korea Research Institute for Human Settlement (KRIHS) for two and half years and participated in the Multifunctional Administrative City Comprehensive Plan before he went to study urban planning in US. After finishing his master’s degree in urban design in 2010, he is working as an assistant research fellow at Architecture and Urban Research Institute (AURI) in Korea and conducting a field research for development of evaluation model for pedestrian environment in Korea. During his doctoral study, he would like to study a planning support system for encouraging participation in the planning process and smart growth policy-making through a more evidence-based approach.
KATHERINE KITTRELL (PhD)
My interest in urban planning stems from frustrations I’ve experienced as a single, suburban soccer mom for two active children. When I relocated with my kids from Colorado to Arizona, I couldn’t find a safe neighborhood with reliable public transportation and quality K-12 public schools anywhere in the state. I reluctantly moved far from the city center to an ugly, pedestrian unfriendly, expensive neighborhood for the terrific public schools. For the next 10 years, I spent nearly every waking moment behind the wheel. Now I drive less because my kids drive, and the responsibility is overwhelming. There must be a better way! I’m at the U to find out. I completed my Master’s of Urban and Environmental Planning at ASU in 2009 with the thesis “Phoenix METRO Light Rail: Land Appreciation and Public Policy” and my current interests are land use, transportation planning, hiking and skiing.
ZACHARIA LEVINE (MCMP)
My interests in planning stem from a love of place. For me, that place is Moab, a small community in the high desert of southern Utah. Known for its surrounding national parks and public lands, Moab attracts over a million visitors each year. It is the unofficial outdoor sports capital of North America. Many can speak of Moab’s iconic beauty far better than I, but the spirit of its community is equally magnificent. The totality of this spirit, the landscape, community, buildings, history, wildlife, humility, and eccentricity, inspires me to assist with and contribute to its evolution over time. Gratitude abounds!
I understand places to be social-ecological systems. That is, they are the integration of intricately interconnected human and natural systems. We are part of nature, not separate from it. Cities are ecosystems. Our relationships with places drive our thoughts and actions that inevitably create consequences throughout our local and global surroundings. My research interests coalesce around this worldview. I am particularly interested in the relationship between green space and public health (mental and physical), transition to a post-petroleum world, ecological economics, and recreation resource management. By planning in harmony with nature and for human happiness, we continue to improve our design, redesign, and management of the community system.
I received my B.S. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of California, Berkeley. Additionally, I studied ecological economics, and international development. My life prior to graduate school included river guiding, interfaith peacebuilding, and multi-cultural education. In 2008, I co-founded a community development organization in Malawi (Njira Ya Tsogolo — The Way Through) that offered programs in appropriate technology, public health, leadership training, and micro-finance.
GAIL MEAKINS (PhD)
I am finishing my third year as a research assistant and PhD student in the Metropolitan Planning, Policy, and Design PhD program. I grew up in Northern California and have lived in Arizona, Florida, Texas, Colorado, North Dakota, and now Utah settling first in Park City and now living on the north bench in Salt Lake City.
My lifelong passion for and interest in physical activity and sport began at a very early age. My competitive swimming career began at the age of seven and I competed in high school track and field, collegiate gymnastics, and Masters Swimming. I always intended to make physical education a career earning a BA from California State University Sacramento and a MA from the University of California, Berkeley. I spent over 20 years in education as an athletic director, physical education and health teacher and gymnastics and swimming coach at the middle school, high school, and collegiate level including stints at the United States Air Force Academy and Cornell University.
Throughout the years I have had the opportunity to travel extensively and developed a strong interest in both urban design and architecture. Upon returning from Ithaca, NY and Cornell I decided to make a major career change and enrolled in the Masters of Urban Planning program at the University of Utah earning a MUP degree, a certificate in historic preservation, and gaining expertise in GIS.
My PhD program of study combines these two diverse fields of interest by studying the connection between the built environment and public health, specifically physical activity and obesity. I am an avid runner/gym rat and continue to enjoy hiking, biking, and swimming.
SARA MEESS (MCMP)
I obtained a BA in Anthropology from the University of California – Berkeley in 2006. After graduating, I moved to Utah and began to work as an archaeologist. Archaeology instilled in me a sense of wonder and curiosity about the interaction between people and place. Over time, my interests shifted from prehistory to more recent history, and to historic architecture and landscapes. I began working on projects to document and evaluate the historic built environment. As a result, I developed a broader interest in historic preservation and urban design.
I began the Master of City and Metropolitan Planning program at the University of Utah in the fall of 2011. In planning, I am especially interested in historic preservation and urban design. I believe these approaches will help us to create high-quality compact development, which will in turn reduce our impact on the environment. I am also interested in transit planning and transit-oriented development. I hope to combine historic preservation, urban design, and transit planning to develop places that will sustain us and our environment.
MATT MILLER (PhD)
An ongoing love affair with cities ensures I keep coming back for more degrees. I had an early crush on NYC, a summer romance with Paris, and flirted with moving to just about every city in the West. (Portland and I maintain an ongoing long-distance relationship, for example). I have a tumultuous relationship with Phoenix, where I spent 2 years as an undergrad (love the climate, abhor the sprawl). I already have both a bachelors and masters degree from the University of Utah in urban planning. I started my career trying to figure how to make places more like Paris (and less like suburbia). That particular rabbit-hole has proven much deeper than expected, and has led me from urban design to transportation planning and urban politics, and thence into economics, geography and ecology. Essentially, I’m trying to understand how cities work, which has meant reading a lot of urban theory and history in different disciplines, and efforts to reconcile it and tie it all together. I spend a lot of my time crunching data and making maps in GIS, but I’m also very fond of computational models like STELLA.
While I’ve been to more national parks/forests than most people know exist, I’m less into the outdoors than your average Utah native. Not because it’s not totally awesome (it is)– but because I lived largely car-free until a few years ago. As a result, I’m really enthusiastic about transit and alternative transportation. I worked full time for two years as a transportation planner at a consulting firm, in Salt Lake on projects all over the West, including an unexpected amount of time driving all over Arizona and New Mexico visiting small airports.
I started in the Metropolitan Policy, Planning, and Design PhD program in Fall 2011, so it will be a while before I’m done. My original exit-plan was to go to work for a think tank (Ideally Brookings), but if it’s not impossible I may make the transition from PROFESS-ional to PROFESS-or.
ED MONTERO (MCMP)
I am a native of Venezuela; I moved to Utah 16 years ago and have called it home since. I got my bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Economics here at the University of Utah. I’ve always have had an affinity with buildings and places and how people interact with their built environment. I am interested in sustainability, historical preservation, open spaces preservation and mobility. I am also interested in implementation of urban planning theories and practices in developing countries and emerging economies, my focus is in South and Central America. I am a family man who enjoys reading, cooking, traveling and home improvement.
SEAN MORGAN (MCMP, graduated 5/12)
As a Landscape Architect, I have always been intrigued by how people use and enjoy public spaces and I am fortunate to have several years of design experience at various scales, from large-scale community master planning down to the nuts and bolts of construction detailing. However I felt it was time for me to expand my toolbox to include the larger picture of Urban Planning & Design to gain a better understanding of how we as professionals can influence and manage growth and change at a larger scale.
I received my BS in landscape architecture from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA in 1994. After graduating, I spent 12 months traveling throughout New Zealand, Australia and SE Asia exploring how other cultures have dealt with growth and the built form. I started working for a landscape architecture firm in Singapore where I had a great opportunity to start my career designing luxury destination resorts and hotels in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. After a couple of years, I moved back to San Francisco where I worked for a mid-sized architecture and planning firm. As a project manager, I was responsible for overseeing the design and entitlement process for a number of large golf and ski resort community development projects throughout the West Coast and Rocky Mountain regions. While there I was fortunate to be involved in an exciting and controversial community development project in Carbondale, Colorado. Working on this project taught me the importance of understanding the regional significance of land development and incorporating input from all stakeholders through community outreach and the public participation process. Through an integrated design process, the planning team collaborated with the county, the public, and many local organizations to gain a better understanding of the regional issues and what was important to the public. The result was a proposal for a sustainable and unique New-Urbanist development that focused on addressing the issues of affordable housing and transportation. Participation on this project in particular sparked my interest in pursuing a career in Urban Planning & design.
COLIN OLSON (MCMP)
I’m from Preston, Idaho, a small, rural community that may be semi-familiar because of the film, Napoleon Dynamite. I grew up just outside of town where I could appreciate the finer things in life, like shooting bb guns, catching lizards, throwing rocks, and swimming with cows. It was a winding path that led me to city & metropolitan planning. I stayed in Idaho for a while, spent a couple years in Berlin, Germany, and eventually found myself studying landscape architecture & environmental planning at Utah State in Logan. The urban design section of the curriculum captivated me. The possibility of improving communities drove me to consider the pursuit of a masters degree in planning. I am very happy that design emphasis opportunities within this program have been strengthened and I’m realizing what an incredibly talented faculty we have here. I feel fortunate to be brought along by them as I begin my quest to make a difference in the future of our communities.
BRUCE PARKER (PhD)
Bruce Parker, AICP is the principal of Planning and Development Services, LLC (PDS), a Salt Lake City planning consultancy firm. Bruce possesses experience in community planning, development review, and planning administration. As a supervisor and project manager, Bruce has participated in a variety of planning activities, land use ordinances, mixed use projects, growth management and infrastructure financing, development agreements, renewable energy projects, and general plans for urban, suburban, rural, and resort communities. Bruce has developed collaborative planning agreements and has worked with the Utah legislature to make progressive amendments to Utah statutory law. He also provides expert witness and litigation support for public and private organizations. Bruce holds a Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (Honors)(University of New England, Australia) where he received the Consulting Planners Prize and the Bernard Cunningham Memorial Prize for Academic Achievement, and a Master of City and Metropolitan Planning (Utah), receiving the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award. Bruce has held Executive Committee positions with the Utah Chapter of the American Planning Association and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He presents on various planning issues at local, state, national, and international planning conferences. As a focus of his doctoral studies Bruce is interested in the achievement of healthy communities and the ability of planning to enhance individual and community well-being, particularly the role planning can play to enhance public education.
SUSIE PETHERAM (PhD)
Susie will begin her second year as a doctoral student in the Metropolitan Planning, Policy, and Design program at the U this fall. She is studying the impacts of changing demographics on neighborhood resiliency in the context of vernacular urbanism. At the U she currently serves as a member of the President’s Sustainability Advisory Board. Susie began her career as a planner following over a decade in the medical research field. She has been with CRSA, a planning and architecture firm in Salt Lake City, Utah, since 2002 as a Senior Planner and Preservationist. She has contributed to several award-winning projects at CRSA and enjoys working with communities to implement context-sensitive planning standards that promote sustainable development patterns and the preservation of important cultural and historic resources. Her planning projects focus on the analysis, planning, and design of downtown districts, historic neighborhoods and transit-station areas. Susie graduated from Grinnell College in 1991 and has a master’s degree in planning and a graduate certificate in historic preservation from the University of Utah. Susie is active in community issues for the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City.
DAVID PROFFITT (PhD)
David will be entering the doctoral program in Metropolitan Planning, Policy and Design in fall 2012. David is currently a Fulbright research fellow in India, where he is studying planning policies to mitigate the urban heat island in Pune, Maharashtra. Previously, he worked as a writer/editor & planner at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Phoenix. At the BLM, David was part of a team charged with producing a long-term, NEPA-compliant document guiding management priorities for a tract of federally owned land in the Sonoran Desert the size of Delaware. He holds a Master’s in Urban & Environmental Planning from Arizona State University, where he wrote a thesis examining the feasibility and potential impact of redeveloping the Phoenix metro area’s vast system of irrigation canals as public spaces that formed the focus of a non-motorized transportation network. Earlier in his career, David was a professional journalist. He spent more than 12 years covering business, crime, arts & culture — and of course architecture and planning — for newspapers and magazines. An avid skier, David would also like to put it out there he’s looking for tips on where to find the best deals on season passes.
ROBIN ROTHFEDER (Ecological Planning PhD Fellow)
The College of Architecture + Planning (CA+P) at the University of Utah is pleased to welcome the first Ecological Planning PhD Fellow for 2012-5. Robin Rothfeder is pursuing a PhD in Metropolitan Planning, Policy & Design in the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning and integrally involved in the development of the Ecological Planning Center. He holds a BS from UC Berkeley in both Environmental Science and Environmental Economics and an MS from the University of Utah in Environmental Humanities. Some of his previous research includes a survey-based study of the connections between basic worldview, feelings of connectedness with nature, and environmental behavior; a legal analysis of Utah’s State Engineer and his capacity to act as an environmental regulator; and a detailed investigation of Utah’s prospective heavy fossil fuel industry (oil shale and tar sands) drawing from interviews, technical documents, and personal experiences to examine social, economic, legal, and environmental factors.
Robin is currently investigating the “water-energy nexus.” As he describes it, “Simply put, it takes a great deal of water to extract energy resources, and it takes a great deal of energy to sanitize and transport water. But there are also deeper and more complex connections, for example: globalclimate change, basically a phenomenon of energy consumption, now threatens to reduce stream flows throughout the American southwest, even as urban populations continue to swell. How might cities plan growth and manage resources differently if they recognized water and energy as one, interrelated set ofchallenges? Similarly, how might acknowledging the connections between urban systems and ecosystems offer a new vision of progress – one that provides for a healthy present and a thriving future?” This work draws from a wide range of disciplines, research methods, and communication tools to address these questions.
Robin is also a co-founder of a small environmental education non-profit (EARTH-Utah) and a yoga teacher at Snowbird’s Cliff Spa. He is a native Utahan with deep roots in the state’s landscape and with a long history of skiing, hiking, kayaking, longboarding, and mountain biking.
The Ecological Planning Fellowship has been made possible thanks to a generous gift from the Swaner Family.
PHILIP STOKER (PhD)
I’m very fortunate and happy to be a student in the department of City and Metropolitan Planning. This program has wonderful faculty, students and administrators. I’m most impressed the opportunities and encouragement the faculty provide to teach and conduct research.
My previous research was a little different than what I’m studying right now: in Southern California I conducted a study that evaluated the impact of campgrounds on coyote habitat use in Joshua Tree National Park; in Kenya, I administered a survey evaluating the local perceptions of wildlife conservation; in northern British Columbia and Alaska, I performed a sustainability assessment of cruise ship tourism to remote destinations; and during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, I administered a survey on visitor experiences during the games.
I have a B.S. in Environmental Management from the University of Redlands, a M.R.M. (Master of Resource Management) from Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, and am currently working towards my PhD. in City and Metropolitan Planning. My current research interests are in social-ecological resilience, jobs-housing balance, and water consumption in metropolitan regions. I’m looking forward to teaching a class in Spring 2012 on environmental issues that are inherently linked to urban planning.
GUANG TIAN (PhD)
I was born and raised in a very small town in mid-China. After high school I started to study and live in the big cities of China, where I experienced the crowds, traffic jams, housing problems, bad air quality, environmental challenges, and other urban issues.
For my Masters, I studied GIS (Geographic Information System) software and its applications, as well as spatial analysis. I was involved in some major land use projects and started to think about addressing the urban issues. Fortunately, I was able to enter the PhD program in the Metropolitan Policy, Planning and Design here at the University of Utah. I noticed that most of the big cities of China have much higher density and much more public transportation than US cities, but were still not solving the problems. This motivates me to find the answers in my future study. As a first year student, I’m currently focusing on the development and application of web-Based ET+, which is designed for public participation.
LANCE TYRRELL (MCMP)
In 2010, I graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, and a Minor in Environmental Studies. After graduation, I worked for the City of Logan as an Intern with both the Parks and Recreation Department and the Planning Department, and later for the City of Portland, Oregon as an Urban Design Intern. These experiences helped me realize that my strengths as a designer and planner are seeing the many complexities and connections that make up our cities and environment, and that greater collaboration between the built environment professions is the key to better cities.
This sparked me to return to school for a graduate degree in Urban Planning, with an emphasis in Urban Design. I’m grateful to be at the University of Utah and have had a great experience thus far. I’m excited for the future of Salt Lake City and Utah’s other great cities, and I’m eager to help shape Utah’s future.
In addition to school, I stay busy spending time with my family and my new baby daughter, taking advantage of Utah’s amazing outdoors, photography, and traveling.
ROBIN WALTON (MCMP)
My love for architecture and design developed early in life, as I grew up visiting residential construction developments and looking at floor plans with my parents. While in high school, I helped my dad design our family’s current home and have since continued to assist him with cabin plans. I obtained a BS degree in Architecture from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, but didn’t feel architecture was my dream profession. Urban Design courses in my undergraduate education piqued my interest in the ability to affect change on a larger scale and provide quality environments for the public, which led me to planning. My interests in planning focus on placemaking and community development, specifically the creation of quality environments that foster creativity, interaction, and an exposure to nature.
XI WANG (MCMP, graduated 5/12)
I am a Chinese girl who born and raised in Beijing, the capital of China. I got my Bachelors degree in Landscape Architecture in 2010 at Beijing Forestry University. After gaining the knowledge and skills of landscape design, I chose to study abroad with my strong interests in a larger scale of design – Urban Planning. Currently, as a master student in the City and Metropolitan Planning program at the University of Utah, I’ve narrowed down my varied interests into concentrating on environmental planning and how other planning aspects, say, transportation, land use and management, and population growth, have impacts on global warming and climate changes, especially in developing countries. As we all know, a remarkable growth in China’s population and economy over the past several decades has come at a tremendous cost to the country’s environment. Today, China faces a series of planning challenges to deal with these significant issue and balance the “input” and “output” from our human beings. For future sustainable development as well as our following generations, we should start to think about the environment and do a planner’s job to take actions on what remains on this shared planet.
BRENDAN ALAN WILLIG
After growing up in a small northern California town of roughly five hundred people, I couldn’t wait to leave and explore the world. To satisfy that desire, I served in the U.S. Navy for four years upon completion of high school. During that time, I was able to travel the world and visit cities ranging from Polynesia all the way to theMiddle East. Needless to say, this experience struck my interest in city planning.
In an effort to pursue my academic goals in city planning, I decided to attend the University of Utah and utilize the Post 9-11 Montgomery G.I. Bill. Although I have only lived in Salt LakeCity for a couple of years, I am absolutely intrigued by its many unique attributes. Like most residents of Salt Lake City, I am very concerned for both our regional and global environment. As an aspiring city planner, I look forward to addressing the many environmental challenges within our city andworld for that matter.
On a much lighter note, I enjoy watching American Football and Union Rugby. Also, when I am not studying orworking, I enjoy walking my dogs and spending time with my girlfriend Amy. Hopefully I will get to know each and every one of you throughout my academic career here at the U. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get intouch with me. Cheers!
ROBERT A. YOUNG (PhD)
Robert will be joining the Ph.D. program in Metropolitan Planning, Policy, and Design this fall. He has authored two books, Historic Preservation Technology (Wily 2008) and Stewardship of the Built Environment: Sustainability, Preservation, and Reuse (Island Press 2012) that embody his research on revitalizing communities. Robert will be broadening his research on stewardship of the built environment by exploring sustainability planning strategies as they pertain to the preservation and reuse of existing buildings at the neighborhood and community scale. His specific focus will be on the investigation of best practices that enable the optimal retention of existing building stock while further refining the qualities that contribute to both the sense of place and enhancement of sustainability. He holds three previous graduate degrees: a master of science in historic preservation planning (Eastern Michigan University), a master of business administration (The University of Michigan), and a master of science in architectural engineering (The Pennsylvania State University). In addition to being a professional engineer and a LEED accredited professional, he has served on several boards of non-profit preservation and community design oriented organizations including ASSIST, the Utah Heritage Foundation, and the Traditional Building Skills Institute). His public service activities include two terms on the Salt Lake City Historic Landmarks Commission (including one year as Chair), a term on the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Authority Advisory Committee, and is a member of the Fisher Mansion Partners Team. His other public service included working on the Fort Douglas Task Force and the Salt Lake City Olympics Organizing Committee in the Sustainable Buildings Work Group. His awards and honors include the University of Utah Distinguished Teaching Award, the University of Utah Public Service Professorship, the Utah Heritage Foundation Lucybeth Rampton Award, John R. Park Fellowship, Association for Preservation Technology International College of Fellows, and the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. He has lived in Salt Lake City for the past 19 years and resides with his wife, Deborah, in the 1904 G. H. Schettler House which he restored in 2001. That restoration won awards from the Salt Lake City Historic Landmarks Commission and Utah Heritage Foundation. He currently is a professor of architecture and the director of the historic preservation program for the College of Architecture + Planning.