A UCLA Luskin Welcome Departments of Public Policy, Social Welfare, Urban Planning welcome six new faculty members

By Stan Paul

Six new members of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs faculty were warmly welcomed at a reception held Oct. 18 and hosted by their new Luskin departments of Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning. Interim Dean Lois Takahashi and the three department chairs were also on hand to welcome the new teachers and researchers.

This year, the School’s three departments strengthened their faculty teaching and research rosters with the additions of Darin Christensen and Zachary C. Steinert-Threlkeld (Public Policy), Leyla Karimli and Laura Wray-Lake (Social Welfare), and Michael Manville and Kian Goh (Urban Planning).

In Public Policy, Darin Christensen will be teaching three classes at Luskin this year. “The students are great, really engaged,” said Christensen, who recently received his Stanford Ph.D. in political science. Christensen said he will be showing his Master of Public Policy (MPP) students how to bring evidence to bear on policy decisions, teaching them tools for wrangling and exploring data, as well as statistical methods that generate credible claims about “what policies work.” In another course offered this quarter, he is discussing how political institutions and public policies affect why some countries are rich and peaceful while others with persistent poverty and instability.

Also joining the Public Policy department this year is Zachary C. Steinert-Threlkeld, who will begin teaching this winter quarter on topics including social networks and protest. “I study protest,” said Steinert-Threlkeld, who completed his Ph.D. in political science this year at UC San Diego. “Wherever there is a protest in the world, I go to Twitter and see what people say. Are they expressing political grievances because they’re mad about the economy?”

Steinert-Threlkeld, who studies social media as it relates to subnational conflict, teaches analysis of “big data.” “If anyone wants to learn with Twitter data,” he said, “they can reach out to me. I would love to be working with motivated students or faculty.”

In Social Welfare, Laura Wray-Lake, who comes to UCLA from the University of Rochester, will be teaching two classes in winter: research methods with children and youth, and development and resilience for the Master of Social Work (MSW) students. “I was really excited about the interdisciplinary environment” at Luskin, she said, explaining that her area of research is civic engagement. “I’m really interested in how to get young people interested in politics and the communities, and solving social issues.”

Leyla Karimli brings an international focus to Social Welfare on topics including child welfare, education and child labor. With more than a decade of international research and practice, her work has taken her to a number of countries in Africa as well as Colombia, the Philippines, Tajikistan and Krgyzstan. She will be teaching on program evaluation and topics including a multidisciplinary analysis of poverty and social exclusion, one of her main research interests.

Returning to UCLA, assistant professor Michael Manville said he is currently teaching courses on transportation and the environment and another on shared mobility. Manville, who earned his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Urban Planning at Luskin, most recently was an assistant professor at Cornell University in the Department of City and Regional Planning. Manville said the rest of the year he will be teaching transportation, land use and public finance, primarily for the Urban Planning Department’s master’s students.

Urban Planner Kian Goh plans to teach a winter quarter seminar titled “Urban Futures,” with a focus on space, ecology and society. In the spring, she will teach a studio course on site planning and a qualitative methods course.

“This year I am continuing my research broadly on the politics of urban climate change adaptation and research on the L.A. region,” said Goh, who comes to Luskin from Northeastern University. “It’s inevitable, not just because I am here but because it so interesting. I think the L.A. region is an example of urban form.”

Goh has focused her research on cities from New York to Jakarta.

“It is really helpful to look at other cities,” she said. “I think of the challenges we face here and all of the opportunities. We’ve learned a lot from other regions.”

Kian Goh

Kian Goh, RA, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. She researches the relationships between urban ecological design, spatial politics, and social mobilization in the context of climate change and global urbanization. Professor Goh’s current research investigates the urban spatial politics of climate change adaptation. This research traces flows of ideas and influence between sites and adaptation strategies in Southeast Asia, North America, and Europe. More broadly, her research interests include urban theory, urban design, environmental planning, and urban political ecology.

A licensed architect, Professor Goh cofounded design firm SUPER-INTERESTING! She has practiced professionally with Weiss/Manfredi and MVRDV. She was previously Assistant Professor of Urban Landscape at Northeastern University School of Architecture, and has also taught at MIT, the University of Pennsylvania, the New School, and Washington University in St. Louis. She has also conducted research as an affiliate of the Resilient Cities Housing Initiative at MIT, and the Urban Theory Lab at Harvard Graduate School of Design. Professor Goh received a PhD in Urban and Environmental Planning from MIT, and a Master of Architecture from Yale University.

Recent publications include coauthored articles on social justice and climate change adaptation in JPER and Nature Climate Change, an article on the sociopolitics of “smart cities,” a book chapter on queer activism in New York City, and a coauthored article on post-tsunami rebuilding in Indonesia in Places Journal. Forthcoming publications include an article on design and urban adaptation in Perspecta: The Yale Architectural Journal.

UCLA Luskin Adds Six New ‘Outstanding’ Faculty Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning announce the appointment of two new scholars in each department

By George Foulsham

In the biggest expansion since its inception, the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs has announced the addition of six new faculty for the 2016-17 academic year. The new hires bring to 100 the number of professors, assistant professors, lecturers and instructors at the Luskin School.

“We are thrilled to welcome six new faculty to the UCLA Luskin family,” Interim Dean Lois M. Takahashi said. “These six outstanding scholars will bring to Luskin a wealth of expertise and knowledge that will be shared with our current — and future — students for years to come. This is a very exciting time to be a part of one of the best public affairs schools in the country. These new faculty members will help us continue the pursuit of our mission at Luskin: advancing solutions to society’s most pressing problems.”

The six new faculty members, by department:

Public Policy

Darin Christensen, a new assistant professor of Public Policy, will receive his Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University this year. His research interests, with support from the World Bank and other funders, span comparative politics, the political economy of conflict and development, foreign investment, and political accountability, with regional interest in sub-Saharan Africa, including Ghana, Kenya, and Sierra Leone. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science and German from Duke University, and his master’s degree in economics from Stanford. Christensen’s teaching focus at Luskin is expected to be comparative political institutions, the political economy of development and advanced data analysis.

Zachary C. Steinert-Threlkeld, a new assistant professor of Public Policy, will receive his Ph.D. in political science from UC San Diego this year. He also has a master’s degree in political science from UC San Diego and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and economics from Washington University in St. Louis. His research interests are in international politics; exploiting in particular vast social media data to study subnational conflict; the mobilization of mass protest such as the Arab Spring and Ukraine’s Euromaidan protests, as well as elite behavior and state repression in authoritarian regimes. At Luskin, his teaching focus will be on subnational conflict, statistics and advanced data analysis of various kinds, including the analysis of “big data.”

Social Welfare

Leyla Karimli, a new assistant professor of social welfare, received her Ph.D. in social welfare from Columbia University’s School of Social Work in 2013 and is completing postdoctoral training at New York University School of Social Work’s Institute for Poverty, Policy and Research. Dr. Karimli has 13 years of international research and practice experience focusing on poverty and social exclusion including post-masters practice experience with international development agencies in the former Soviet Union and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her research interests include a multidimensional and systems-oriented analysis of poverty and social exclusion that complements the Department of Social Welfare and Luskin School’s commitment to understanding the complex nature of social and economic inequalities and addressing the needs of vulnerable and diverse populations.

Laura Wray-Lake, a new assistant professor in social welfare, received her Ph.D. from Penn State University’s highly regarded Human Development and Family Studies program. Dr. Wray-Lake is a lifespan developmental scientist from the University of Rochester where she has been an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology. Dr. Wray-Lake utilizes a “civic engagement” framework to examine the social and income inequalities facing vulnerable children and families and how and why individuals can become re-engaged in society. Dr. Wray-Lake has a strong commitment to teaching and mentoring. Her courses on community engagement incorporate her social justice approach to teaching and as such, will support our commitment to diversity and social justice.

Urban Planning

Kian Goh, a new assistant professor of urban planning, received her Master of Architecture from Yale University and her Ph.D. in Urban and Environmental Planning from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. She is currently an assistant professor of Urban Landscape at Northeastern University. Dr. Goh’s research investigates the relationships between urban ecological design, spatial politics, and social mobilization in the context of climate change and global urbanization. Her work has centered on sites in New York, Jakarta and Rotterdam.  She also has ongoing projects on queer space and the sociopolitics of smart cities. In addition to her scholarly work, Goh is a licensed architect and co-founder of SUPER-INTERESTING!, a multidisciplinary architecture and strategic consulting practice located in Brooklyn.

Michael Manville, a new assistant professor of urban planning, is returning to UCLA Luskin after receiving his MA and Ph.D. in urban planning from UCLA Luskin.  Dr. Manville is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. His research examines the willingness of people and communities to finance different government services, and the tendency of local governments to hide the costs of transportation in the property market. Dr. Manville is particularly interested in how land use restrictions intended to fight traffic congestion can influence the supply and price of housing.