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Student Profiles

Selected Student Profiles

(Click name to read more)

Carine Arendes (MURP)

Eugenio Arriaga (Ph.D. Candidate)

Tiffany Austin (Ph.D. Candidate)

Myung-Ji (MJ) Bang (Ph.D. Candidate)

Chris Blanchard (Ph.D. Candidate)

Todd Borkowitz (MURP)

Joe Broach (Ph.D. Candidate)

Kate Drennan (MURP)

Tara Goddard (Ph.D. Candidate)

Erin Goodling (Ph.D. Candidate)

Jamaal Green (Ph.D. Candidate)

Katie Hughes (MURP)

Brian Hurley (MURP)

Nicole Iroz-Elardo (Ph.D. Candidate)

Mark Kenseth (Ph.D. Candidate)

Anthony Levenda (Ph.D. Candidate)

Liang Ma (Ph.D. Candidate)

Dillon Mahmoudi (Ph.D. Candidate)

Marissa Matsler (Ph.D. Candidate)

Mohammad Meidiansyah (MURP)

Lina Menard (MURP)

Danell Norby (MURP)

Alex Novie (MUS)

Iren Taren (MURP)




Carine Arendes

Carine is a long time Oregon resident, active in food security issues, Portland Public Schools and environmental restoration volunteerism. A graduate of PSU’s Community Development program, she entered the MURP program in the fall of 2011, focused on Land Use and integrating environmental planning into land-use decision making. Restoring and preserving ecological functioning in urban areas is a professional priority with special emphasis on recognizing the existing assets of suburban green infrastructure.  Her current position at Washington County is focused on “Greening the Code,” an attempt to address code barriers to sustainable development.  A regular library patron, Carine daydreams about trips to Tuscany and adventures aboard Serenity.


Eugenio Arriaga

Eugenio is a student in the Urban Studies Ph.D. Program starting in 2010. He is interested in transportation, planning and community development. Eugenio holds a B.A. in Law. He also obtained a Master’s Degree in Politics and Public Management at ITESO University in México and completed a Master’s Degree in Sustainable International Development at Brandeis University. Most of his professional experience as a local official, in the city of Guadalajara (México), was related to fields such as sustainable transportation, public space design, social development, planning, and cultural affairs. He also worked for the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. His research interests are related to comprehensive city planning, sustainable transportation, and urban poverty. He enjoys watching independent films, reading novels, listening to music, and being with his family.

Tiffany Austin

Tiffany started her first year as a student in the Urban Studies and Planning Ph.D. Program in 2011. Her focus areas are water policy and planning. After moving to Portland over five years ago from Maryland, she started working as a science educator at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and went on to complete the PSU Graduate Certificate in Sustainability and a Masters in Science Teaching degree from PSU’s Center for Science Education, focusing her research on water resources education. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park and has worked in the fields of science and environmental education for over a decade.

Tiffany’s passion is to help solve some of the pressing water resource and justice issues we face as a global society. She is interested in United Nations Water (UN-W) for its current focus on the International Decade for Action "Water for Life" program that researches and highlights best practices in urban water management and participatory and education practices across the globe. In her own research, Tiffany aims to examine water resource issues and their relationship to urban communities that are at risk for environmental and social injustice from current trends in water policies that affect access and pricing. As a result she hopes to collaborate with others to learn how sustainable water policy, education programs and participatory planning opportunities can effect change to solve these issues both locally and internationally. Tiffany loves to be near water and makes frequent trips to the beautiful rivers and waterfalls of Oregon as well as the coast. Impromptu road trips, running, aerial dance, gardening and time to spend with friends are a sample of the many things she loves most.

Myung-Ji Bang

Myung-Ji's (M.J.) interests lie in balanced economic development in revitalizing blighted-neighborhoods, downtown areas, disaster recovery areas, and tourism and cultural planning areas. Her primary interest is in demographic shifts in changing neighborhoods, specifically in terms of economic revitalization and public policy initiatives, and their relation to socio-economic and political influences. Most recently, she conducted research on the role and abilities of community-based organizations in post-disaster changing neighborhoods in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

M.J. has a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). Recently, she worked as a Social Science Researcher at the Institute of Urban Studies at UTA. Her work experience in various city planning projects includes downtown revitalization planning, feasibility and impact analyses, researching economic indicators, parks master planning, land use planning, federal grant writing, and research and report writing for the North Central Texas Council of Governments. M.J. worked as part of a team to develop a parks master plan that won the Best Student Project award from the Texas Chapter of the American Planning in 2009, and the project helped the client city earn matching state funds from Texas Parks and Wildlife. In her free time, she enjoys walking through everyday street life and exploring its different aspects.

Chris Blanchard

Chris Blanchard is an urban scholar, writer, and commentator based in Boise, ID. He is currently studying in the Ph.D. program in Urban Studies at Portland State University. Previously he earned a B.S. in Social Science (Economics and History) with Distinguished Honors, and an M.A. in Applied Historical Research, both at Boise State University. His government experience includes staff positions with the Washington State House of Representatives and Senate, and the Boise City Council, among others. Current research interests include economic development strategies for small and medium size cities, and growth and urban politics in the Intermountain West. He is also at work on a biography of Morrison-Knudsen co-founder, Harry Morrison. Chris lives with his wife, pit bulls, and way too many cats on the “Bench” in Boise, Idaho.

Todd Borkowitz

Todd is registered landscape architect with over ten years of built work experience on projects ranging from urban housing developments, campus facilities and parks. He later provided expertise as a senior urban designer with PB PlaceMaking, specializing in integrating transit into the urban environment on projects internationally, throughout the United States and in the Portland region. Most recently, Todd worked with the Portland Bureau of Transportation, where he helped advance multiple active transportation plans, projects and initiatives, including the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030.

Todd is currently in the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) and Urban Design Graduate Certificate programs at Portland State University, and received the 2013 Lindberg Scholarship from Oregon APWA to aid his academic pursuits. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Todd received a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Iowa State University and worked briefly in Chicago before relocating to Portland in 1998.

Joe Broach

Joe is a doctoral student in the School of Urban Studies & Planning. Joe moved to Portland in 2006 after completing a B.A. in Liberal Studies and M.A. in Economics at the University of Montana. Lifelong interests in transportation and how people make decisions led him to the Urban Studies Ph.D. program at PSU. During his time here, Joe has worked on a number of research projects related to transportation modeling including: trimet operator absenteeism with Dr. Jim Strathman (, bicycle route choice with Dr. John Gliebe (, and the family activity study with Dr. Jennifer Dill (


Kate Drennan

Kate Drennan earned her BA from Smith College, focusing on political science and international relations. After graduation she headed for DC where she spent four years working for Congressman Earl Blumenauer, handling a legislative portfolio that included transportation, sustainability issues, housing, education and bikes! Some of Kate’s proudest accomplishments include passing the Higher Education Sustainability Act, the National Bike Bill and implementing the Bike Commuter Act. In 2009, Kate joined Transportation For America to spread her advocacy efforts for multi-modal transportation and land use cooperation to all of the House and Senate as she worked on the federal Transportation Bill and Climate Change initiatives. In her free time, Kate loves to run, play soccer, do triathlons and eat at all of Portland’s fabulous food carts.

Tara Goddard

Tara Goddard is a Ph.D. student in the Urban Studies program beginning in 2011, specializing in transportation, particularly travel behavior and bicycling/walking issues. After growing up in rural Northern California, she headed to Santa Barbara, where she graduated from UCSB with honors in both Mechanical Engineering and beach-going. Dreams of designing roller coasters were replaced by more practical and socially-beneficial interests in sustainable transportation and land use planning. To this end, Tara earned her Masters in Civil Engineering at UC Davis, specializing in transportation planning and policy and developing a keen interest in travel behavior and gender, particularly with non-motorized modes. After a short stint as an Associate Transportation Planner for the City of Sacramento, Tara most recently served as the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of Davis, CA. When she's not working, Tara can be found hiking, bicycling or playing frisbee with her dogs Baxter and Smoky. In what remains of her spare time, she enjoys kayaking, reading, metalsmithing, and catching up on sleep.

Erin Goodling

Erin combines ten years of teaching and youth development experience with an interest in human-environment relations and change. Her research examines the politics surrounding urban socioenvironmental issues, especially where environmental and sustainability initiatives intersect with housing and food justice activism. She is interested the political economy/ecology of cities, environmental justice/just sustainabilities, social movements, and youth-led research. Prior to starting at PSU in 2011, Erin worked as a teacher in social service agencies catering to homeless youth, as well as traditional middle and high schools in Portland, OR, San Francisco, CA, and Ewa Beach, HI. She has led youth excursions focused on human-environment relations in both urban and back-country settings in Oregon, Washington, California, Hawaii, Ecuador, and British Columbia. Erin has also co-written two arts-based interdisciplinary curriculum guides for use with middle/high school and undergraduate students, focused on social and environmental justice issues. Current research includes the limits and potential for city officials to advance social and environmental justice agendas in the sustainability era, anti-displacement activism, historical-geographic factors contributing to spatial concentrations of poverty in Portland, and a handful of youth-led participant action research projects. Erin has a graduate certificate in English Language Learning from Stanford University, an MA in teaching from Lewis & Clark College, and a BA in Spanish from the University of Portland. Erin is the recipient of a Fund for Teachers Fellowship, two World Savvy Global Educator Fellowships, and the Plank Fellowship Award for Teachers. She is a National Science Foundation IGERT Fellow (focused on ecosystem services for urbanizing regions), as well as the recipient of PSU’s Laurels Fellowship, the Ernie Bonner Equity Planning Scholarship, and PSU’s Student Leadership Award.

Jamaal Green

Jamaal is a Ph.D. candidate in the school of Urban and Regional Planning starting in 2011. He has a masters degree in planning from UNC-Chapel Hill with a specialization in economic development. His interests lie in climate change mitigation and adaptation policy from a holistic regional planning perspective encompassing not only land-use, but also economic development, design, and transportation.

Katie Hughes

Katie Hughes is pursuing a Master of Urban and Regional Planning and specializing in Economic Development. Katie grew up in the Detroit area and graduated from Michigan State University's James Madison College in 2008 with a degree in International Relations and Asian Studies. While in East Lansing, Katie worked for the Community Relations Coalition on city-wide planning issues and the Michigan Department of Agriculture with the International Marketing Department. In 2008, Katie joined the U.S. Green Building Council, and now works as an Account Manager with a variety of firms engaged in the green building industry. Katie is passionate about the greening of our built environment and her goal is to bring the concept of building environmentally, socially, and financially vibrant communities to fruition both in the U.S. and abroad. Her professional skills include: Mandarin Chinese, strategic communication, client relations, event planning, project management, green building, and the LEED certification process. Her academic and research interests include: shrinking cities, innovative economic development strategies, eco-cities, urban farming and agriculture, brownfield redevelopment, and planning in developing countries. Hobbies and interests include: cooking, traveling, entertaining, nature, reading and running.

Brian Hurley

Brian Hurley is a first year Master of Urban and Regional Planning student with a specialization in Transportation. His academic interests involve increasing active and alternative transportation use throughout American cities. He has earned a BA in Urban Studies from the University of Pittsburgh with concentrations in Historic Preservation and Geographic Information Systems. He has previous professional experience in transportation planning with the City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning, and as a GIS technician with the Department of Interior, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. Prior to his involvement in urban planning, Brian was active in bicycle advocacy and social justice issues in the Pittsburgh region. In his free time he enjoys visiting urban parks.

Nicole Iroz-Elardo

Nicole Iroz-Elardo is a PhD Candidate in Urban Studies. She joined the program after working for several years as a statistician in environmental health. Her field areas are in urban planning/negotiation theory and urban health. She was drawn to these specializations because she wants to understand how planning curriculum and public planning processes can better support social justice ideals and outcomes. Her dissertation investigates the potential of Health Impact Assessments (HIA) to provide communities an additional avenue to participate in and influence the planning process. She is also working on a research project with Dr. Bassett to understand and document the urban chicken movement and city ordinances. When she's not working on her dissertation, she's likely in the garden with her 3-year old son.

Mark Kenseth

Mark is a student in the PhD Urban Studies program beginning in 2011. He is concerned about urban and rural issues relating to social and environmental justice. More specifically, he is interested in policy and community development relating to sustainability in housing, resource management and transportation access. Mark grew up in the greater Chicago area where he earned a BA in Architecture. Having spent several years working in the field of architecture he then traveled and worked abroad and became more interested in issues and policies regarding sustainability. After returning to Chicago, Mark completed a MA in Geography and Environmental Studies in 2011, and is currently reading Lefebvre's Production of Space, having read several scholarly articles which reference it. A newbie to Weekendland, Mark is looking forward to meeting new people, watching the Timbers, and getting lost while traversing the city by bicycle. And he can't wait to go hiking and camping in the Cascadia region.

Anthony Levenda

Anthony is starting the Urban Studies Ph.D. program at Portland State University, with concentrations in planning and energy in 2011.  Anthony completed a Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in 2010, specializing in air pollution and sustainable built environments.  He has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (2009) with a minor in environmental science also from the University of  Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.  Anthony has been involved with many research projects ranging from biofuel combustion analysis to air quality monitoring and control systems in buildings.  He has experience as an energy engineer  where he specialized in computer simulations of energy efficiency upgrades for many building types. His research interests include regional urban planning, sustainable development, climate change, and community energy systems.  Anthony loves spending time with his girlfriend and their dog and cats while cooking vegan food and enjoying all the beautiful things the Northwest has to offer.

Liang Ma

Liang is a third-year student in Urban Studies Ph.D. Program at Portland State University. His research is primarily about interactions between built environment and travel behavior, especially on promoting active and healthy travel behavior by urban design and planning solutions. He previously received his masters degree in Human Geography from Peking University in China, and has been working in EDAW as an economist for two years. On his free time, he like to swim, cook, and spend time with friends and family.



Marissa Matsler

Marissa Matsler is a marine biologist and budding urban ecologist interested in how urban communities interact with water, and the ecological, political and social drivers and consequences of these interactions. This research passion was forged by the dichotomy of her experiences in both wet coastal worlds and brilliantly dry deserts. After completing her bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology at Oregon State University (OSU), Marissa studied green architecture in Arizona, receiving a certificate in Sustainable Design from the Ecosa Institute. A move to the east coast to sail tall ships, opened her eyes to management implications of ecological research as the fields of biology and architecture scaled up in her mind to ecology and urban planning. She integrated the human element into her studies while completing her Masters of Environmental Management degree at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (FES). At PSU, Marissa will be a part of the Ecosystem Services for Urbanizing Regions Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (ESUR- IGERT) program, examining decentralized stormwater infrastructure’s efficacy as an ecosystem service provider. Other topics she hopes to explore while in grad school include eco-city development in China, EcoSan throughout the world, outdoor education, LEED-Neighborhood Development, land/sea connections, knitting, Belgian beer, and travel.

Dillon Mahmoudi

Dillon Mahmoudi started his Ph.D. focusing in Economic Development and Technology in 2009. He received his Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science in 2006 from Georgia Institute of Technology with specializations in Human Computer Interaction and Software Engineering. Currently, he is working with Professor Ethan Seltzer on a project blending technology, collaboration, planning and economic development. Additionally, he has served for two years as a representative on the Urban Studies Executive Committee. His past work includes positions with Microsoft and National Instruments working in software development, ecommerce, and web marketing. Dillon’s current research interests are aimed at using technology to improve our cities. These broad interests have resulted in research and/or coursework focusing on: open collaboration and innovation technologies, high-low tech, the human and economic geography of cities, urban international development and non-traditional workforce development strategies. When not thinking about cities, you can find Dillon tinkering with software, brewing beer, playing soccer, debating with friends over a local pint, hiking in a National Park, biking the streets of Portland, or flying the Cascadian flag. 

Mohammad Meidiansyah

Mohammad is from Aceh, Indonesia. He received his undergraduate degree in Geography, specializing in Spatial Development and Planning, from Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia. There he learned methods appropriate for sustainable development in Indonesia. As a MURP student, Mohammad is interested in learning how to combine Transportation Planning with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a tool. He views the City of Portland as having one of the best convenient public transportation systems in the U.S. 

Mohammad most recently worked as a Civil Servant in Aceh, giving recommendations for transportation infrastructure plans. The construction of transportation infrastructure in Aceh after the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami of December 26, 2004, took place very quickly, resulting in problems of inappropriate land use. Therefore, for sustainable transportation development in Aceh, re-inventory of geospatial-based transportation infrastructure assets and accurate arrangement of planning documents is required. Mohammad would like to apply his planning knowledge to benefit others. He is also interested in creating an international network by helping to establish a U.S. Sister City for Aceh.

Lina Menard

Lina received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and stayed in Walla Walla for another six years, working as the volunteer coordinator at Whitman College. Meanwhile, she geeked out on new urbanism, tiny houses, and community development. During her paid vacations, she pursued her true passions: bubble diagramming with smelly markers, mapping out permaculture gardens, and building with straw, clay, and wood chips. She now lives in a tiny house on wheels and interns with Orange Splot, a developer specializing in small-scale, community-oriented infill projects. Her Sustainable Building Adviser Certification and her Sustainable Design Build Certification - as well as her proclivity for food carts, rain, and folding bicycles - have sufficiently prepared Lina to complete a Master’s of Urban & Regional Planning and an Urban Design Certification.

Danell Norby

Danell Norby began the MURP program in 2011 with a specialization in Community Development. After receiving her B.S. in Biology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Danell provided support and training to participants of workforce development programs as a member of AmeriCorps. Prior to moving to Portland for school, she spent three years assisting distressed homeowners as a NeighborWorks-certified foreclosure prevention counselor, teaching first-time homebuyer classes, and navigating the world of paper stacks and Excel spreadsheets that is HUD grantwriting and reporting. Danell is currently working with Oregon Health Authority to improve alignment of housing and health services throughout Oregon and serves as the student representative of TSUSP’s Diversity and Equity Committee. In her spare time, she enjoys getting out of the city to experience the beautiful Pacific Northwest, exploring her neighborhood by foot or bicycle, making a mess in the kitchen, and schooling Portlanders on the merits of her home base and favorite city, Minneapolis.

Alex Novie

Alex is interested in the following two questions: 1) How can communities develop and facilitate more symbiotic relationships with their land base? 2) How are requisite scientific concepts and technical knowledge disseminated to community stakeholders and policymakers? Food systems and local food networks are his principle areas of study at PSU. Other academic fascinations include transnational environmental issues, community education, bioregionalism and linguistics.

Alex has a BA in International Relations with a Spanish minor from the University of Redlands, California. His professional experience includes energy policy implementation, community education, and sustainable building consulting. Volunteer efforts with local transit and arts organizations have been particularly rewarding and inspirational. Alex loves to travel and experience different cultures, especially in Latin America. He is an avid musician.


Iren Taran

Iren joined the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program in 2011. She holds a BA in Architecture from WSU School of Architecture and Construction Management. At PSU, her research interests include sustainable economic, social, and environmental development as well as planning practices that can bridge all three. Last year, she started her research work on the transformation of the urban planning system in the Post-Soviet Bloc which includes almost 30 countries. She is currently looking for opportunities to engage with professionals who have lived through economic, political and social transitions. She spent last summer in Nicaragua on a PSU International Community Development program gaining field experience. This summer, Iren is looking forward to interning with the Shenzhen Institute of Urban Planning and Design and the opportunity to work alongside local planners in China.

Iren’s introduction to international practice began while she was a student at WSU. She has assisted a team of professors in postwar studies and development strategies for the City of Kabul and Kabul University, Afghanistan. After graduation, Iren joined Yost Grube Hall, a U.S. based architecture and planning firm. Originally from Kazakhstan and proficient in Russian, she has coordinated joint efforts with partner firms in Kazakhstan and Afghanistan. Iren places a great deal of emphasis on close collaboration between professionals in the U.S. and overseas. For the past ten years, she worked on a wide variety of projects, ranging from educational facilities to campus and community planning. Her clients have included USAID, U.S. Department of State, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, and a number of prominent universities. Iren has worked on projects in countries such as Pakistan, India, Kuwait, Tajikistan, Botswana and Nigeria.

Intellectual curiosity and drive to explore the world took her on travel adventures to Russia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Guatemala. When she is not juggling education, research and professional practice, Iren is hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest.