The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning

Doctoral Students in Metropolitan Planning, Policy, and Design

Andrea Garfinkel-Castro is a 4th year doctoral student. As a critical researcher, her work has been to consider the relationship between a mainstream planning profession and minority communities, particularly for Latinos. Recognizing that a strong place-based identity cuts across virtually all ethnoracial groups, she asks what it means to be a minority living, working, and playing in places that have been shaped mainly by a group of people who hold vastly different values, beliefs, lifestyles and aesthetics. She began to consider this after experiencing a visceral, negative response to images of New Urbanist developments. Her first thought: this doesn’t represent me. Her second thought: why am I reacting so negatively? She has been exploring place, placemaking, cultural landscapes, and planning culture ever since. She earned a master’s degree in urban and environmental planning at Arizona State University in 2010 with a thesis focusing on the Latino cultural landscape and planners’ attitudes.
Her desire to inform planning policy and community development led her to the U’s MPPD program. She understands that her desire to better understand place, belonging, identity, and tensions between institutional and informal production of space/place are in part a reflection of her life experiences. Forced to drop out of school at age thirteen, she has spent much of her life far from the context in which she truly feels at home and where she belongs: the academic setting. She ‘came home’ to academia in her mid-forties, armed with a sixth grade education and what has seemed an unquenchable desire to learn. With her current research, she sees an opportunity to provide planning practitioners, educators, researchers and theorists with a more comprehensive approach to assessing planning outcomes. By examining outcomes of public realm planning from the ‘inside out,’ or through the lens of planning culture, her dissertation work hopes to provide a means for understanding core underlying, often barely detectable drivers behind US planning. By treating the public realm as an outcome of planning culture, she is implying that the invisible aspects of culture are a strong driver of visible planning action, behavior, and material outcomes.
Her three children are her inspiration, her loving husband her sustenance. She enjoys gardening, the outdoors, and the art, architecture and cuisine of many continents and cultures.

Holly Hilton is in her fifth year in the Metropolitan Planning, Policy and Design PhD program. Holly earned an MPP with an emphasis in environmental policy, and a BS in Psychology from the University of Utah. She is currently the Policy and Program Manager for 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. Holly has competed coursework and is working on her qualifying exam and dissertation proposal, she also co-taught Introduction to Urban and Environmental Planning with Bob Farrington for CMP. Her focus is on environmental and water policy and is studying the connection between urban density and water consumption.

Keuntae Kim is a PhD student at the Department of City and Metropolitan Planning, University of Utah. 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 in urban design at School of City and Regional Planning (SCaRP) 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 steel company towns (Pohang and Kwangyang POSCO 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 (Sejong City, South Korea) 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 scenario-based planning support system for encouraging participation in the planning process and smart growth policy-making through a more evidence-based approach. Now, as a graduate research assistant and original user of Envision Tomorrow Plus (ET+), he is working on documenting the ET+ user manual. Also, he will teach two ET+ training courses – Envision Tomorrow Plus Level 1 and 2 (PROED 851 and 852) – during the Fall semester break.

Ja Young Kim is a doctoral student in the Department of City and Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea and a Master of City Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.  Kim is interested in the issue of race, place, and environmental equity set in the frame of the built environment and urban form. Building upon her previous research on the potential of urban design to improve walkability in relation to the needs of an aging urban population, in Oakland Chinatown, her research aims to better understand the impact of the built environment on the well-being of older populations and assess diverse public needs on the issues to develop feasible planning interventions. Before joining the MRC, she worked as an architect, urban designer and planner in Berkeley and San Francisco, and more recently as a researcher for the Seoul Institute developing policies for energy efficient buildings and towns in Seoul, Korea.

Zacharia Levine is a transdisciplinary thinker. He holds a B.S. in industrial engineering and operations research from the University of California, Berkeley (’08), and a Masters in City and Metropolitan Planning from the University of Utah (’13). Zacharia is a founding member of the Ecological Planning Center at the University of Utah. The EPC aims to advance the field of planning and design by viewing cites as ecosystems, people as part of nature, and metropolitan areas as complex adaptive bioregions.  From this perspective, he hopes to assist in the cocreation of healthy places – for living and non-living entities alike. While he currently focuses on clarifying the intellectual history and foundations of ecological planning, his proposed research topic involves studying and operationalizing the relationships between mental health and urban form. He also co-founded Friends of Red Butte Creek, a student-initiated group that advocates for widespread engagement across all aspects of Red Butte Creek, one of the Intermountain West’s best examples of an urban ecological resource. Zacharia’s research is funded by the iUTAH EPSCoR program, the Global Change and Sustainability Center, and Rio Mesa Center. Off campus, you can find Zacharia riding his mountain bike near Moab, skiing in the Wasatch canyons, floating a western river, or hiking with his family throughout the Colorado Plateau.

Torrey Lyons is a PhD student in the Metropolitan Planning, Policy and Design program at the University of Utah.  He comes to the MRC with a background in transportation policy research.  He received his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont, and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Utah, where he graduated with honors.  His most recent research has focused on understanding the factors affecting transit ridership, and utilizing these relationships to predict future ridership for more effective performance measurement of transit agencies.  He is currently working under Dr. Reid Ewing on projects that include improvements to the four step travel demand model, and trip and parking generation from exemplary transit oriented developments.  Torrey is also an accomplished snowboarder, still riding at a semi-professional level with current endorsement contracts.

Matt Miller is a third year Ph.D student in the department of City and Metropolitan Planning. Matt earned his bachelors from the University of Utah, focusing on urban design and then on growth management. During that time, he interned at Envision Utah, and worked on the ‘Wasatch Choices 2040’ project. He earned his masters degree from the University of Utah in 2007, focusing on housing affordability. During that time, he was a teaching assistant for the “Theory and Ethics in Planning” class. After graduating, he worked as a transportation planner at Wilbur Smith Associates, where he worked on Aviation System Plans in Arizona & New Mexico, the Utah Statewide Travel Model, and transit planning in Ogden, Utah. He wrote the final plan document for the AMPO award winning ‘Envision Missoula’ long range transportation plan for Missoula, Montana. During that time, he maintained a blog at, focusing on transportation and urbanism, and was active in alumni affairs. For the past three years, he has worked as a research assistant at the Metropolitan Research Center, where he uses his skills in GIS and spreadsheet models to analyze and present information for the HUD “Sustainable Communities” and NITC “Do TOD’s make a difference?” grants. He has repeatedly submitted papers to TRB as a co-author, and recently as first author. He co-taught Transportation Analysis Methods in Summer 2013. His interests focus on the relationship between urban form and transportation, with a research focus on transit and transit oriented development. His hobbies include board game design and traveling to major metropolitan cities across the world.

Keunhyun Park is a doctoral student in the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning and research assistant at the Metropolitan Research Center. He completed his bachelor and master degrees in Landscape Architecture at Seoul National University. During that time, he tried to understand the social, economic, and environmental outcomes of public space development. To expand knowledge of urban policies related to public space and contribute to professional research, he joined the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements (KRIHS) and participated in diverse research projects of urban planning and design from 2010 to 2014. At 2013, he conducted a case study followed by statistical and spatial analyses to determine the accessibility and the functionality of urban linear parks and published the findings in a peer-reviewed journal. Keunhyun believes that while urban design theories such as new urbanism or transit-oriented development (TOD) emphasize public spaces, they do not fully consider various forms and user types. Thus he expects that through his doctoral research, he will gain a better understanding of how public space is related to social and environmental outcomes such as sustainable travel behavior, better environmental quality, or community development.

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 will begin her third 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 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 is a PhD student in the City and Metropolitan Planning Department at the University of Utah. He is the department’s first Ecological Planning Fellow and is the project manager for the University’s Red Butte Creek Revitalization initiative. He also holds an MS in Environmental Humanities, from the University of Utah, and a double major BS in Environmental Sciences and Environmental Economics & Policy, from UC Berkeley. Robin’s current research covers two areas: 1) the foundations, processes, and best practices in the emerging field of Ecological Planning, and 2) water resources planning, policy, and management in the western United States. In addition, his work along Red Butte Creek aims to create a one-of-a-kind ecological, recreational, and educational amenity at the University of Utah. Off campus, Robin is an outdoor enthusiast, an avid sports fan, and a certified yoga instructor. He is excited to be a member of the CMP team and looks forward to his continuing work in the department.

Pratiti Tagore was born and educated in the bustling city of Kolkata, India. She completed her undergraduate degree in Architecture from Bengal Engineering & Science University, India, after which she moved to Delhi, where she earned a post-graduate degree in Urban Planning from School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. As a final year project, she analyzed the environmental impacts of human activities such as poor sanitation habits, discharge of effluent into water channels, and construction of rapid transit systems on the river beds. She first worked as an Urban Researcher in Chennai, India, and later worked as an Architect and Urban Planner in Kolkata, India. During her time working after graduation, her interests gradually shifted from core architecture to physical infrastructure planning. She believes good infrastructure should be accessible to all regardless of financial ability. Her research interests include development of water and sanitation management systems, along with their design and planning in congruence with transit development.

Guang Tian was born and raised in a very small town in mid-China. After high school he started to study and live in the big cities of China, where he experienced the crowds, traffic jams, housing problems, bad air quality, environmental challenges, and other urban issues.  For his Masters, he studied GIS (Geographic Information System) software and its applications, as well as spatial analysis. He was involved in some major land use projects and started to think about addressing the urban issues. Fortunately, he was able to enter the PhD program in City & Metropolitan Planning here at the University of Utah. He 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 him to find the answers in his future study. His current research interests are GIS, transportation planning, sustainable development, and quantitative research.

Matt Wheelwright is a doctoral student in the Department of City and Metropolitan Planning. After completing his undergraduate studies in Construction Management, Matt headed to Southern California to build semi-custom homes as well as lead intensive high density infill and light commercial projects. Building homes on some of the largest master planned communities in the United States, he made note of successes and failures in the built environment and aspired to contribute to urban development in more productive and influential ways. Particularly concerned for the inadequate ways that cities and developers considered the social and psychological needs of its population, especially the lower income housing units, Matt chose to return to school first for a Master in Business Administration degree and now a PhD. His hands on experience and passion for better places adds a new set of talents to the Metropolitan Research Center team where he will work on iUtah research projects with the hopes of bringing better construction and planning practices to Utah communities and the built environment.

Robert A. Young advanced to Ph.D. candidacy last year and is currently working on his dissertation, Economic Resilience of Property Values in Historic Districts.  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 has focused 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.  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).  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 the current chair of the National Council for Preservation Education.  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, the John R. Park Fellowship, the 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 two decades and resides with his wife, Deborah, in the 1904 G. H. Schettler House which they 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.