The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning
Sayma Khajehei

Sayma Khajehei

I was born in Shiraz, Iran. I completed a Bachelor in Architectural Engineering at Shiraz University in 2011 and a Master’s in Post-disaster Reconstruction at Shahid Beheshti University in 2013 in Iran. I spent the next several years working as an architect in an engineering firm, a lecturer in the University of Applied Science and Technology in Tehran, and a researcher in the Housing Foundation of Iran. During my professional practices in Iran, I covered everything from architectural design, post-disaster recovery, and documentation of reconstruction projects. In 2017, I moved to Iowa State University to pursue a Master’s of Community and Regional Planning. My thesis explored the recovery challenges of public housing residents in Lumberton, North Carolina, in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, 2016. I have presented my thesis findings in ACSP Conferences and Natural Hazard Workshops in the years 2018 and 2019. Along with my Master’s degree, I also obtained my GIS certificate from Iowa State University in 2019. 

I have started studying Metropolitan Planning, Policy, and Design Ph.D. program because I want to contribute to creating a better community. I dream and hope to find how the resiliency of socially vulnerable population in the community towards natural hazards can be provided. The collective performance of social, economic, institutional, and physical environments results in community resiliency. I believed that the resilience of a community is inextricably linked to both the environment condition and the resources’ treatment. In this broad area, I desire to focus on the housing issues and to help to provide affordable housing for socially vulnerable people in a community. 

I chose the Metropolitan Planning, Policy and Design Ph.D. program at the University of Utah because the program is home to eminent scholars researching public policy, climate change, social justice, urban ecology, and transit-oriented development. I was particularly impressed with Dr. Divya Chandrasekhar publications and accomplishments in the areas of disaster recovery policymaking and community participation. My research objectives also focus on affordable housing recovery policies and resilient communities. With the knowledge that I will obtain from this Ph.D. program, I want to provide an affordable housing policy for socially vulnerable populations and to contribute to a resilient society.

As a first-year Ph.D. student, I receive the Global Change and Sustainability Center (GCSC) Graduate Fellowship for the summer of 2020. I also love hiking, exploring new places, and urban landscape photography!