By Stan Paul
As the Luskin School emerged from 18 months of COVID isolation to start the 2021-22 academic year, it was with several new employees in place. In addition, some prior employees had moved to new roles. Here’s a cross-section of changes:
STUDENT SUPPORT EXPERTS
Nael Rogers has joined UCLA Luskin in a new student support role designed to assist graduate students in navigating university systems while
Originally from Chicago, Rogers started this summer as the new student support coordinator and brings a wide breadth of experience to the Luskin School.
The new position is focused primarily on — but not limited to — underrepresented students, said Assistant Dean Julie Straub. Rogers will work closely with graduate students studying public policy, social welfare and urban planning, as well as students in the public affairs major.
Rogers, who is available to students in-person and virtually throughout the year, describes the coordinator role as a “one-stop information hub” to help guide students to a variety of services located across campus, “basically, a centralized liaison of student services.”
The position also includes an emphasis on advocacy for the well-being of students and providing advice and assistance to students and scholars regarding U.S. visa and immigration procedures, compliance issues and eligibility.
Rogers also will help coordinate student-led support groups and be a resource for students looking for additional help outside of the School.
“Sometimes, students might not have time, so they can stop by and see what I can do from my end,” said Rogers, who is currently completing a Ph.D. in English at Claremont Graduate University and has prior experience as an English instructor and in a number of advising and student support roles.
Kevin Medina has made the move to Luskin’s Career Services suite as the School’s new director. Medina, who earned MPP and MSW degrees in 2016, returned to Luskin in 2019 to serve as the inaugural capstone advisor for the new Public Affairs undergraduate major.
In spring 2021, he stepped in as interim graduate advisor for Public Policy during staff transition. Medina started his new position in October and said as the new director of Career Services that he looks forward to working with Luskin master’s and doctoral students.
Veronica Terriquez, a UCLA alumna who returned this year as a professor of urban planning, is now director of UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center.
The center, which is part of UCLA’s Institute of American Cultures, supports intersectional research, programming and advocacy related to Chicano, Latino and Indigenous communities.
Terriquez, who has a dual appointment with UCLA College, became the 10th director in the center’s 51-year history and its first female leader. Terriquez joined UCLA from UC Santa Cruz. “I’m thrilled to be able to direct a center whose mission is to leverage original research on U.S. Latinx communities in order to have an impact on the campus, higher education and the broader society,” Terriquez said.
Kian Goh, assistant professor of urban planning, has been named associate faculty director at the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy.
Goh studies the politics around cities’ responses to climate change, and her global perspective will bolster the institute’s efforts to pair critical thought with social movements and activism in the interest of combating societal inequalities.
Her recently published book, “Form and Flow: The Spatial Politics of Urban Resilience and Climate Justice,” explores the politics of urban climate change responses in different cities and the emergence of grassroots activism in resistance.
She said the institute is a leader in working with and alongside movement-based organizations fighting
“This type of positional research is more attuned to how structural power actually works,” Goh said. “And it’s what I think the Institute on Inequality and Democracy does incredibly well. I’m so excited to be part of it.”
Urban Planning Professor Susanna Hecht has been named director of the UCLA Center for Brazilian Studies, an interdisciplinary research center.
Hecht is a specialist on tropical development in Latin America, especially Amazonia, focusing on the intersections of economies, cultures and land use.
Her work spans climate change, mitigation and the rethinking of longer-term strategies in light of globalization, intense migration and novel climate dynamics.
She holds joint appointments in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the department of geography at UCLA.
Michael Stoll, a longtime professor of public policy and urban planning, is the new director of the Black Policy Project at UCLA, which is affiliated with the Bunche Center for African American Studies.
Stoll outlined several major goals as director: commissioning a report that will look at the demographic changes of Black California; a research project that highlights wealth inequity in the state; and playing a supportive role for the state’s new task force on reparations, the first of its kind in the country.
He said all research will include student workers and the aim is to create materials that are accessible and meaningful to policymakers and the public at large.
“We want to be a good public ally and create accessible research for the layperson, information that engages in affairs that are of interest to and about Black California,” Stoll said. “We are gathering data and will produce reports that provide evidence-based information that can drive policy discussion.”
Stoll also plans to build on a study he first launched nearly 20 years ago, an overall analysis of “the state of Black California,” which will include an equality index with a number of dimensions that will paint a picture of how Black residents have fared when it comes to socioeconomic progress over the last two decades. Early census indicators show overall population declines, major suburban neighborhood shifts and big changes in traditional Black communities.
CENTER FOR INNOVATION LEADERS
Kelly Turner and Greg Pierce, researchers and faculty members in urban planning, are now leading the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation as interim co-directors.
They stepped in upon the departure of former director JR DeShazo, who left UCLA Luskin in August to become dean at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. (Among those continuing on the LCI leadership team were Jisung Park as associate director and Colleen Callahan as founding deputy director.)
As co-directors, Turner and Pierce said they will focus on environmental equity as well as climate adaptation.
Significant research commitments are already under way, said Pierce, an adjunct assistant professor of urban planning who also directs water-related research for the Luskin Center for Innovation, and the center is “moving ahead at
“JR built a fantastic enterprise at Luskin Center and the momentum is there,” said Turner, an assistant professor of urban planning and geography.
Turner said her emphasis would be on the center’s climate adaptation research portfolio.
“We have a lot of momentum right now, especially on work on urban heat and extreme heat,” said Turner, who previously helped lead urban environment research at the center. “Between wildfires and extreme heat events and all the various problems we’re having, our work is more important than ever,” she said.