The RCHI Team

Lawrence J. Vale is Ford Professor of Urban Design and Planning at MIT, where he is Director of the Resilient Cities Housing Initiative (RCHI). He previously served as Head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning from 2002-2009 and is currently Associate Dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning. Vale is the author of many books examining urban design and housing, including Architecture, Power, and National Identity (Spiro Kostof Book Award), From the Puritans to the Projects (Best Book in Urban Affairs, Urban Affairs Association), Reclaiming Public Housing (Paul Davidoff Book Award, Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning); Purging the Poorest: Public Housing and the Design Politics of Twice-Cleared Communities (Best Book in Urban Affairs, Urban Affairs Association; Best Book on United States Planning History, International Planning History Society); and After the Projects: Public Housing Redevelopment and the Governance of the Poorest Americans (Oxford University Press, 2019). He is also co-editor, with Thomas J. Campanella, of The Resilient City: How Modern Cities Recover from Disaster.


Shomon Shamsuddin is an Assistant Professor of Social Policy and Community Development at Tufts University, where he conducts research and teaches courses in the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, and Associate Director of RCHI at MIT. He completed a PhD in Urban Policy and Planning at MIT DUSP and received the Outstanding Dissertation Award. His research examines how social policy in housing and education influences urban inequality. His current work focuses on differences in institutional approaches to low-income housing policy and residential segregation and the causes of income disparities in educational attainment. Previously, he has worked as an architect, housing developer, and policy analyst in city and federal government. He holds degrees from Brown University, Yale University, and MIT.


Kian Goh is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at UCLA and an Associate Director of RCHI at MIT. She completed her PhD in Urban and Environmental Planning at MIT DUSP, with a dissertation titled “A Political Ecology of Design: Contested Visions of Urban Climate Change Adaptation” in September 2015. She researches urban ecological design, spatial politics, and social mobilization in the context of climate change and global urbanization.

Kian is a licensed architect and co-founder and principal of design practice SUPER-INTERESTING!, winner of a Building Brooklyn Award and semi-finalist in the ONE Prize. She previously worked with Weiss/Manfredi and MVRDV. Kian has taught at Northeastern University, the University of Pennsylvania, The New School, and Washington University in St. Louis. Kian received a Master of Architecture degree from Yale University.


Zachary Lamb is a Lecturer in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. His work focuses broadly on the intersection of public policy, design, and environmental change. He completed his PhD at MIT in 2018 and held a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton during 2018-2019. His dissertation research examined the evolving spatial and design politics of flood infrastructure in the delta cities of New Orleans and Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also co-founder and principle of Crookedworks, a research and design firm whose work was featured in the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale and has received wide recognition, including awards from AIA New Orleans, AIA Western Massachusetts, and the Animal Architecture Awards. Prior to completing his doctoral studies, Zach received a Master of Architecture degree from MIT and a Bachelors of Arts degree in art history, architectural history, and environmental studies from Williams College. His previous work has included environmental policy analysis, green building and design, design-build education, energy efficiency, climate change adaptation, affordable housing, and post-disaster community development.


Suzy Harris-Brandts is a PhD student in Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, split between focuses in City Design and Development (CDD) and the International Development Group (IDG). Her work broadly addresses the interplay between displacement, nationality, urban humanitarian interventions, and housing rights—particularly with regard to the South Caucasus and Occupied West Bank. Prior to her doctoral studies, Suzy studied architecture at the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture and is a licensed architect in Canada. She has worked at design and research practices across the globe including in Toronto, Vancouver, London, the West Bank, and Abu Dhabi.


Nick Kelly is a fifth-year PhD student in Urban Studies and Planning at MIT working in both Housing, Community and Economic Development (HCED) and City Design and Development (CDD). His research focuses on affordable housing, with a particular emphasis on policy strategies to revitalize low-income neighborhoods and deconcentrate poverty. Prior to MIT, he studied at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, where he received his MPA. Nick has also worked at the New York City Economic Development Corporation and as an aide for Senator Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, and at the National Economic Council at the White House.


Colleen Chiu-Shee is a PhD student in City Design and Development (CDD) at Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) at MIT. Colleen is interested in innovative urbanization in the East Asian Pacific Rim region and is currently investigating ecological approaches to developments and related public policies in China. Prior to MIT, Colleen received her bachelor’s degree in architecture from Zhejiang University in China. She then studied at Washington University in St. Louis, where she received master’s degrees in architecture, urban design, and architectural history and theory. She has practiced architecture and urban design in China and the United States.


Laura Wainer is a fourth-year PhD student in Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. Previously, she was a SPURS Fellow at MIT (2015-2016) and a Fulbright scholar from Argentina, specializing in urban development and planning. Since 2008, she has worked on urban and metropolitan issues in the public and private sectors. She consulted for the World Bank, Cities Alliance, and the IDB, and taught urban planning at the University of Buenos Aires. She runs the International Field Program of The New School at the African Centre for Cities of the University of Cape Town. Laura holds a masters degree in International Affairs and Development from The New School. Her thesis explores effects of the removal of apartheid planning policies on land-use, residence patterns, and racial segregation in South Africa. At MIT, Laura focuses on urbanization management and housing policy in Africa and Latin America.


Jonathan Tarleton completed a masters in city planning degree at MIT in 2018, working in both Housing, Community, and Economic Development (HCED) and City Design and Development (CDD). His research at DUSP focused on factors that affect the maintenance or dissolution of limited equity housing cooperatives and the perceived tradeoffs between safety and accessibility in setting public housing eligibility criteria for individuals with criminal convictions. Jonathan previously served as the editor of the magazine Urban Omnibus and the chief researcher of Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas. He holds a bachelors degree in Latin American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Shinwon Kyung is a Lecturer at Seoul National University, Korea. She is a housing and urban regeneration specialist. She has over 10 years of international experience as a teacher and researcher in Korea, the UK, and the US. Before joining SNU, she was a SPURS Fellow/Researcher at MIT in Cambridge (2014-2016) and Visiting Fellow/Consultant at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC (2010-2014). Dr. Kyung was also an Assistant Professor at the University of Birmingham in the UK (2006-2009) and Associate Research Fellow at the Korea Housing Institute (1998-2001), Korea. Her principal research focuses on housing and urban (re)development policy and practice and it impacts marginalized communities.


Past Collaborators                      

Linda Shi is Assistant Professor at Cornell University’s Department of City and Regional Planning. Her research focuses on urban environmental and regional governance, and advancing planning policies to manage the urban climate transition in ways that improve social equity and ecological sustainability. Her dissertation examined how the crosscutting challenge of climate change impacts is reviving collaborative efforts across metropolitan regions of the United States. Their experiences suggest that limitations of existing institutions can lead to adaptation policies that reproduce or worsen existing vulnerabilities, and that such efforts should place greater emphasis on building institutions for regional governance than on policies for climate adaptation per se. She also has consulted with the World Bank to develop a methodology to identify priority cities for climate and urban resilience finance, as well as to draft a guidebook for adaptation planning in small- and medium-sized cities in Latin America and the Caribbean. She holds a PhD in urban and regional planning from MIT and master’s degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Management.


Kassie D. Bertumen is the Manager of Community Development at BRIDGE Housing Corporation, where she oversees the organization’s research and evaluation efforts. Kassie obtained a Master’s in City Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2015. At MIT, she focused on affordable housing as well as community and economic development finance and development.  From 2009 to 2013, Kassie was a research associate at the Urban Institute. There, she had numerous publications on inclusionary and mixed-income housing, HOPE VI redevelopment, comprehensive community programming, economic development, and homelessness. She graduated from University of California, Berkeley in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.


Annemarie Gray is a Senior Project Manager at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), where she manages large-scale neighborhood planning and development initiatives. Her previous work includes managing capital development projects with the Cambridge Housing Authority as well as working on urban redevelopment projects in the informal favelas in Rio de Janeiro as a Fulbright Fellow and commercial revitalization in post-Katrina New Orleans. She received a Master’s in City Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2014 and an undergraduate degree in architecture from Washington University in St. Louis.


Jessica Debats Garrison is Associate Director of Sustainability and Administrating Director of the Environment Collaboration at the University of California, Irvine. Her research focuses on the relationship between environmental justice, climate adaptation, and public space, with a focus on urban forestry and urban heat island mitigation. She has also served as an environmental analyst and GIS specialist for local governments and environmental consulting firms. Dr. Garrison holds a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning from MIT, a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from UCI, and an MA in U.S. History from UCLA.


Callahan Seltzer is an urban planner whose work focuses on regenerative planning and development processes to improve the physical, environmental, social, and economic health of bio-regional systems. She joined CityCraft in 2016 and currently leads the Citycraft Integrated Research Center (CIRC) for the Rocky Mountain Front Range Bio-Region. Callie previously worked on the development and preservation of affordable multifamily housing at the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) from 2007 to 2013. Callahan holds a BA in Politics and Government, a Masters in American Studies, and a Master’s Degree from MIT’s School of Architecture + Planning.


Diana Searl is the Interim Executive Director of Project Homecoming Inc., a city-wide affordable housing developer and builder in New Orleans. She received a Master of City Planning  from MIT and focused on housing revitalization and economic development strategies in post-disaster contexts.. Prior to attending MIT, Diana was the Director of Program Operations for a small neighborhood CDC in New Orleans. During her tenure in New Orleans, she has managed the development of 60+ single family units and over $4 million in community investment. Diana is also a graduate of the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in public policy.


Esther Chung Byun is Development Project Manager with Berkeley Investments, Inc., a Boston-based full service real estate investment and development company with a focus on urban residential, commercial and mixed-use properties. Prior to joining Berkeley, Esther was an architectural designer and urban researcher in Los Angeles (Morphosis Architects) and Seoul, Korea (Chang-jo Architects), supporting mixed-use development projects across diverse scales and settings. She also previously worked with the development team at The Community Builders (TCB) and the Land Use and Zoning Division of the City of Cambridge Community Development Department (CDD).  Esther received her Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Master of City Planning from MIT.


Billy Ndengeyingoma is a doctoral candidate in Urban and Regional Planning at the London School of Economics. His research will investigate how the design of individual and collective spaces in informal settlements in Kigali, Rwanda, speaks to its residents' conception of the notion of home and influences the structure, membership, and skillset of housing cooperatives. As a research assistant in RCHI, Billy evaluated the resilience of housing projects in southern and eastern Africa. He holds a Master's in City Planning and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from MIT.