Gus Wendel

Gus Wendel began the Ph.D program in Urban Planning in the fall of 2020. His research is broadly concerned with the intersection of race, gender and sexuality, urban design and governance, and neighborhood change. In his concurrent role as the Assistant Director of cityLAB-UCLA, Gus oversees several design-research projects examining the links between housing insecurity, long-distance commuting, and public space access and use. Gus also manages the multi-year Mellon Foundation award to the Urban Humanities Initiative, where he also co-produces the Digital Salon and is involved in teaching and research. Prior to UCLA, Gus worked for the Oregon Secretary of State and advocated for LGBTQ rights in the state of Oregon. Gus has a Master in Urban and Regional Planning from the Luskin School of Public Affairs and a BA in International Relations and Italian Studies from Brown University.

Emma Mehlig French

Emma is a PhD student in Urban Planning and a Graduate Student Researcher with the Luskin Center for Innovation. Her research seeks to understand the nature and causes of maladaptation in local climate planning. Her work is grounded in the political nature of planning, as well as a strong belief in the power of individuals and social movements to shift practice through coordinated action. At the Luskin Center, Emma is helping to evaluate the first round of the Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) Program, a state-funded, community-led initiative aimed at reducing local greenhouse gas emissions and improving public health and economic wellbeing in California.

Prior to coming to UCLA, Emma was a Research Scientist at the Center for Urban Innovation at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she helped launch the Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation Initiative. In 2016, Emma received a Smart Cities Fellowship, which she used to help fund independent research on the role of smart city technologies in participatory environmental planning in West Atlanta. Emma received a Master’s of City and Regional Planning and a MSc in Public Policy from Georgia Tech, and a BA in Environmental Analysis from Pitzer College.