Emily Weisburst

I am an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles. My research focuses on topics in labor economics and public finance, including criminal justice and education.

I recently earned my Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin. While in graduate school, I worked as a Staff Economist at the Council of Economic Advisers in the Executive Office of the President and as a research associate for the RAND Corporation on joint projects with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. I have also received the NAED Spencer Dissertation Fellowship to support my research on the impact of funding for police in public schools on student disciplinary outcomes and educational attainment in Texas.

My research interests include understanding factors that impact police decision-making and public trust in police. I am also interested in how interactions with the criminal justice system affect individuals, families and communities. A recent paper examines how much police discretion matters to law enforcement outcomes, after accounting for offense context. In this project, I find that the likelihood that an incident results in an arrest critically depends on the officer that shows up to respond to an offense reported through a police call for service.

For more information about my work, check out my website: emilyweisburst.com

Natalie Bau

Natalie Bau is an assistant professor of public policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. She is an economist studying topics in development and education economics and is particularly interested in the industrial organization of educational markets. She has studied private schooling and teacher compensation in Pakistan, the relationship between negotiation skills and girls’ educational outcomes in Zambia, and the interactions between educational investment and cultural traditions in Indonesia, Zambia, and Ghana.

Dr. Bau received her PhD in public policy from Harvard University, and is currently an affiliate of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and the Centre for Economic Policy and Research.  Prior to joining UCLA, she was an assistant professor of economics at the University of Toronto.

Personal Academic Website.

Michael Lens

A large and growing body of research shows that neighborhoods matter for several life outcomes including economic mobility, education, and safety. For many reasons, positive neighborhood attributes remain unattainable for low-income households in many U.S. metropolitan areas. Professor Lens’ work fulfills gaps in the literature that evaluates the potential for housing policy to reduce this separation by focusing on neighborhood safety and access to jobs. This research contributes to this literature in both conceptual and empirical ways. Specifically, this research 1) measures the neighborhood conditions of families that receive housing subsidies; 2) analyzes the potential interactions of crime with subsidized housing and commercial development; 3) identifies how residential location affects employment outcomes; and 4) improves how scholars and policy makers measure neighborhood opportunity for low-income households.

In recent research, Professor Lens is studying the effect of the housing bust on housing subsidy demand and local government finances, the role of public investments in gentrification processes, and the spatial concentration of eviction. Professor Lens’ research has won awards from the Journal of the American Planning Association and Housing Policy Debate.

Among several grants, Professor Lens has – along with fellow UCLA Urban Planning Professor Paavo Monkkonen – a multiyear grant from the MacArthur Foundation to study the effect of the housing boom and bust on local government finances.

Professor Lens teaches courses on Quantitative Analysis, Community-Based Research, Housing Markets and Policy, Poverty and Inequality, and Research Methods.

Click here to view available office hours.


Job Accessibility Among Housing Subsidy Recipients
Housing Policy Debate 24(4): 671-691.
Best Paper of 2013-14, Housing Policy Debate
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The Impact of Housing Vouchers on Crime in U.S. Cities and Suburbs
Urban Studies 51(6): 1274-1289.
Author: Lens, M.C.
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The Limits of Housing Investment as a Revitalization Tool: Crime in New York City
Journal of the American Planning Association 79(3): 211-221.
Author: Lens, M.C.
Best Article of 2014, Journal of the American Planning Association
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Safe, but Could Be Safer: Why Do Voucher Households Live in Higher Crime Neighborhoods?
Cityscape 15(3): 131-152.
Author: Lens, M.C.
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Subsidized Housing and Crime: Theory, Mechanisms, and Evidence
Journal of Planning Literature 28(4): 352-363.
Author: Lens, M.C.
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American Murder Mystery Revisited: Do Housing Voucher Households Cause Crime?
Housing Policy Debate, 22(4): 551-572.
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Do Vouchers Help Low-Income Households Live in Safer Neighborhoods? Evidence on the Housing Choice Voucher Program
2011, Cityscape, 13(3): 135-159.
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Other Links:

How Zoning Restrictions Make Segregation Worse
Memphis Murder Revisited: Do Housing Voucher Households Cause Crime?
Gang Injunction Draws Suspicion In Hidden Valley
Moving Poor People Into a Neighborhood Doesn’t Cause Crime


Refereed Journal Articles

Lens, Michael C., and Vincent Reina. “The Impact of Housing Subsidy Expirations on Neighborhood Opportunity.” Housing Policy Debate. Forthcoming.

Lens, Michael C., and C.J. Gabbe. “Employment Proximity and Outcomes for Moving to Opportunity Families.” Journal of Urban Affairs. Forthcoming.

Lens, Michael C., and Rachel Meltzer. “Is Crime Bad for Business? New York City Neighborhoods 2004 to 2010.” Journal of Regional Science, Forthcoming 

Lens, Michael C. “Measuring the Geography of Opportunity.” Progress in Human Geography, Forthcoming 

Lens, Michael C., and Paavo Monkkonen. 2016. “Housing Market Regulation and Economic Segregation.”Journal of the American Planning Association, 82(1): 6-21.

Lens, Michael C. 2014. “Job Accessibility Among Housing Subsidy Recipients.” Housing Policy Debate24(4): 671-691. Best Paper of 2013-14, Housing Policy Debate.

Lens, Michael C. 2014. “The Impact of Housing Vouchers on Crime in U.S. Cities and Suburbs.” Urban Studies 51(6): 1274-1289.

Lens, Michael C. 2013. “The Limits of Housing Investment as a Revitalization Tool: Crime in New York City.” Journal of the American Planning Association 79(3): 211-221. Best Paper of Volume 79, Journal of the American Planning Association.

Lens, Michael C. 2013. “Safe, but Could Be Safer: Why Do Voucher Households Live in Higher Crime Neighborhoods?” Cityscape 15(3): 131-152.

Lens, Michael C. 2013. “Subsidized Housing and Crime: Theory, Mechanisms, and Evidence.” Journal of Planning Literature 28(4): 352-363.

Ellen, Ingrid Gould, Michael C. Lens, and Katherine M. O’Regan. 2012.  “American Murder Mystery Revisited: Do Housing Voucher Households Cause Crime?” Housing Policy Debate, 22(4): 551-572.

Lens, Michael C., Ingrid Gould Ellen, and Katherine M. O’Regan. 2011. “Do Vouchers Help Low-Income Households Live in Safer Neighborhoods? Evidence on the Housing Choice Voucher Program.” Cityscape, 13(3): 135-159.


Papers in Progress

Sugie, Naomi and Michael C. Lens. “Spatial Job Search, Residential Job Accessibility, and Employment Outcomes for Returning Parolees.” Revise and resubmit (Demography)

Lens, Michael C. “Housing Subsidy Demand During The Great Recession.” Revise and resubmit (Urban Studies)


Robin Liggett

Before retiring, Professor Liggett held a joint appointment between the Department of Architecture in the School of the Arts and Architecture and the Department of Urban Planning in the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA where she taught courses in quantitative methods and computer applications in Architecture and Urban Planning.

Professor Liggett received her PhD and MS in Operations Research from the UCLA Graduate School of Management and a BA in Mathematics from Pomona College.

Professor Liggett continues to participate in a number of research projects related to Transportation Planning and Computer-Aided Design. Her most recent projects include the evaluation of multi-modal street performance measures, predictors of bicycle and pedestrian crashes, and the development of computer tools for analysis of the energy implications of climate on the design of buildings.



The Geography of Transit Crime. Documentation and Evaluation of Crime Incidence on and around the Green Line Stations in Los Angeles
Loukaitou-Sideres, A., Liggett, R., and Iseki, H., Journal of Planning Education and Research 22, 2002, pp. 135-161.

Very Simple Design Tools: A Web Based Assistant for the Design of Climate Responsive Buildings
La Roche, P., and Liggett, R., Architectural Science Review, Vol. 44, December 2001, pp. 437-448.

Journeys to Crime: Assessing the Effects of a Light Rail on Crime in the Neighborhoods
Liggett, R., Loukaitou-Sideres, A., and Iseki, H., Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 6, No. 3, 2003, pp. 85-115.
Protecting Against Transit Crime: The Importance of the Built Environment
Liggett, Robin, Loukaitou-Sideris, Anastasia and Iseki, Hiroyuki, in Daniel J. B. Mitchell (ed.), California Policy Options 2004, UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research and The Ralph and Goldy Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies, January 2004, pp. 139-156.

Todd Franke

Trained in social work and educational psychology, Professor Franke seeks to achieve a better understanding of, and improve the responsiveness of service systems in the fields of social services, education and health. Using cognitive theory to better define policy issues related to the integration of these two important fields, Dr. Franke’s research has focused in part on the impact of disability and chronic illness on school-age children. He is currently conducting a study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, on the use of personal assistance services for children with disabilities. In addition, Dr. Franke studies how adolescents solve social problems; urban mobility and its impact on children’s education and social development; and how to successfully integrate health and social services in school settings.

Dr. Franke is active in several local and regional efforts to restructure social services in the schools, helping to conceptualize planning and implementation and the design of evaluation measures in Los Angeles Unified School District, the country’s second-largest school district. He also serves as a consultant to local school districts for the preparation of funding proposals for Healthy Start, a state program to establish linkages between community social service agencies and schools. HIs primary work occurs at the intersection of youth violence (child welfare and gang involved youth) and education. In these areas he designs and undertakes evaluative research and has obtained over $9 million in research funding over the past 7 years. He is currently the Associate Director of the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities.

Dr. Franke has been involved with agencies that serve thousands of families representing unique geographic and cultural communities in California, particularly southern California counties. He recently prepared a report for the Los Angeles City Council which examines the measurement issues involved in assessing the success of gang-related and youth development prevention and intervention programs in the city. The link between involvement in the child welfare system and gang involvement is well documented. Dr. Franke is currently the Co-PI of the Best Start LA Initiative which aims to shape, strengthen and support five Los Angeles communities by building resources and providing access to activities that improve the well-being, development and care experienced by pregnant women, parents of newborns and children age 3 and under.

Dr. Franke was also the Principal Investigator for the First 5 LA-funded Partnership for Families Initiative, which is a secondary prevention initiative that is designed to prevent child maltreatment in vulnerable families. Dr. Franke has been the PI for the Small County Initiative, which was designed to systematically examine California’s efforts to build and enhance child abuse and neglect prevention efforts in 11 rural counties in northern California. Additionally, he has numerous years of experience in conducting cross-sectional and longitudinal research in the fields of education, child welfare and adolescent violence.