The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture

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CRP/LA people


Benjamin Ibarra Sevilla


Benjamin is Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his architecture degree from Autonomous National University of Mexico and his degree in Historic Buildings Conservation from the Excellence Program of the Carolina Foundation and the University of Alcala de Henares, Spain. Benjamin has worked on assistance programs for world heritage cities, including Zanzibar in Tanzania, Baku in Azerbaijan, and the Batanes Islands in the Philippines. Benjamin is interested in the challenges confronting historic urban landscapes caused by adaptive reuse and insertions of contemporary pieces of architecture. His expertise includes ancient mason techniques, stereotomy, descriptive geometry and architectural geometry informed by form-resistant structures. His research focuses on the transmission of building technology from Europe to the Americas, focusing on the constructive and geometric analysis of sixteenth-century ribbed vaults in Mexico. He has received awards in Mexico for his work in masonry, geometry and stereotomy, and his research has been disseminated in various forums and journals of Europe, Latin America, and North America.

Bjørn Sletto


Bjørn is assistant professor in the Community and Regional Planning Program and Coordinator of the Dual Degree Program in CRP and Latin American Studies. Bjørn’s research focuses on indigenous land rights, social justice, and environmental planning in Latin America. During the past decade, he has lived and worked in indigenous villages and border cities in Venezuela, investigating environmental conflicts and land rights struggles and conducting participatory mapping projects with the Pemon in the Gran Sabana and Yukpa in the Sierra de Perijá. As the director of the Institute of Latin American Studies’ (LLILAS) Research Initiative on Participatory Mapping, Bjørn works closely with partner institutions in South America to further international scholarship on representational politics and social justice in vulnerable communities. Bjørn teaches Geographic Information Systems, environmental justice, and Latin American planning and development.

Fernando Lara


Fernando is a Brazilian architect with degrees from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (BArch, 1993) and the University of Michigan (PhD, 2001). Fernando’s interests include 20th century Latin American architecture and the development of informal settlements in Brazil. In 2005, he founded Studio Toró, a non-profit devoted to the challenges of water conservation and urban flooding in Latin America. Fernando teaches seminars on 20th century Latin American architecture and urbanism, as well as studios related to the continent's current urban challenges.

Gabriel Díaz Montemayor


Gabriel is an assistant professor of Landscape Architecture in the School of Architecture and also an associate faculty member of LLILAS. Gabriel holds an architect degree from the Autonomous University of Chihuahua from his native Mexico, and a Master in Landscape Architecture from Auburn University. He taught at Arizona State University before moving to Austin and UT. Before that, he taught at the Superior Institute for Design and Architecture in Chihuahua, Mexico. Gabriel’s creative research activities and interests center in the border region between the US and Mexico, particularly dealing with urbanism, public space, infrastructure and the landscape of arid northern Mexico. He currently teaches design studios and landscape construction courses.



Greg is associate professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment. He teaches courses on cultures, environmental change and sustainable development in Latin America, including a study abroad program in Cordoba, Argentina. His books and articles have dealt with a range of topics including cultural landscapes, ethnic territoriality, human impacts on mountains, and adaptive dynamics in traditional agriculture. Recent projects with students focus on food and farming in Puerto Rico, Bolivia, Mexico, Paraguay, and Ecuador; earlier projects have involved student work in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Peru.

Juan Miro

Juan was born in Barcelona and obtained his professional architecture degree from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Since 1998, he has directed Studio Mexico, a program that affords UT students the opportunity to explore Mexican culture through the study of Mexican architecture, traveling, sketching and design. In his teaching, practice and research, Juan explores the interconnectedness between architectural design, place making and the relevance of history. He is particularly interested in looking at architectural history with the eyes of a designer.



Javier is the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowed Professor in Latin American Sociology at the University of Texas-Austin. His main areas of research, writing and teaching are political ethnography, urban poverty, and collective violence. He is the author of Poor People’s Politics (Duke University Press, 2000), Contentious Lives (Duke University Press, 2003), Routine Politics and Violence in Argentina (Cambridge University Press, 2007) and, together with Débora Swistun, Flammable: Environmental Suffering in an Argentine Shantytown (Oxford University Press, 2009). He received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation in 2000 and from the American Council of Learned Societies in 2008.

Patricia Wilson


Patricia is professor in the Community and Regional Planning Program and founder of the Joint Program. She teaches international development, public participation, and conflict resolution skills, and her research focuses on individual and social transformation, strengthening civil society, and community-building. Patricia began her international development work in the mid-1970s in Latin America, where she taught regional economics at the Universidad Católica in Lima, Peru, and regional development planning at the Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria, also in Lima. Her research and consulting have focused on integrated regional development, export-led development, decentralization, municipal strengthening, and most recently civic engagement and participatory community development. Besides Peru, she has worked in Mexico, El Salvador, Panama, Colombia, Bolivia, and Chile. She is currently facilitating a learning exchange with a university in Mexico regarding peace education, community engagement, and sustainable development.



Peter is a professor in the Department of Sociology and the LBJ School of Public Affairs. His publications include major texts on self-help housing, land and housing markets, urban planning, politics and governance. Since 2006 he has led the initiative to create the Latin American Housing Network which he coordinates at the University of Texas at Austin and which comprises an eleven city (nine-country) study of analysis and policy making in the old (now) consolidated irregular settlements that formed 30 years ago. Indeed, the photograph of Peter was taken in 2009 in front of the dwelling in a former squatter settlement in which he rented rooms as a doctoral student some 35 years ago. In addition, his current work is funded by the Ford Foundation and the Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs and focuses upon housing sustainability in colonias and similar types of self-help settlements in Texas. This work provides graduate research opportunities for students working on their Masters and doctoral degrees.



Rebecca is assistant professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment and has worked on diverse topics related to rural development and reduction of poverty in Latin America and in the Southern United States. Her research includes migration, agricultural change, and touristic development in developing countries in the context of globalization. She is currently conducting a comprehensive research, education, and community support project focused on rural transformation and Latino migration in the Southern United States and Mexico supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).



Sarah is an architectural and urban historian, as well as a migration scholar, with a PhD degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Her current research focuses on the impact of migrant remittances—dollars earned in the U.S. and sent to families and communities in Mexico—on the architecture and landscape of rural Mexico. Broadly speaking, her interests include the impact of human migration on space and architecture in the U.S. and Mexico, Mexican architectural and urban history, U.S. cultural landscapes, Latin American remittance development, and the use of interdisciplinary methods to study space and society. Specifically, she combines ethnographic and archival research with analysis of buildings and landscapes. She will join the School of Architecture faculty in August 2012.



Bill received his Ph.D. in 1979 from the University of Oklahoma. He taught at Mississippi State University before joining the UT faculty in 1981, and has served as undergraduate advisor, graduate advisor (receiving UT's Outstanding Graduate Advisor Award in 2004), and department chair in the Department of Geography and the Environment. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has received distinguish scholarship awards from the Association of American Geographers and the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers. Doolittle regularly teaches courses on the Landscapes of Mexico and Caribbean America, the historical geography of the American Southwest, Field Techniques, and ecologically sustainable and indigenously developed agricultural strategies. Bill's research interests include landscapes, histories, and agricultural technologies in arid lands, particularly the American Southwest and Mexico.

CRP Students



Ahide grew up in Los Angeles, California where she earned a B.A in Sociology and B.A in Ethnic Studies from California Polytechnic University Pomona. As an undergrad she was part of several student organizations advocating for immigration issues and student rights. In 2008 she attended an international conference hosted by indigenous communities in Chiapas, Mexico and became interested in researching different forms of resistance and modes of reclaiming space by marginalized groups. Her past research explored the forms of resistance employed by domestic workers with in the private work sector. Her current research and fieldwork interests are social and economic equity issues faced by immigrants in the U.S, and social transformation through civic engagement with a focus on women.



Originally from Zacatecas, México, Alejandra received her B.A. in Architecture at UC Berkeley, where she interned with Architecture for Humanity and helped found a chapter in Mexico City to promote socially and environmentally sustainable urban and architectural projects. Interested in issues that went beyond the architectural profession, Alejandra started writing in various Mexican newspapers about national and international issues that dealt with political, social, economic and environmental matters pertaining to the planning profession. Such curiosity led her to be interested in equity issues, particularly related to housing access but also transportation and public space in Mexico.



Ariadna is a PhD student in the CRP program and holds an MsC in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico (IPN). She has received research awards from the Mexican Council of Science and Technology and recognition from the Mexican Environmental Ministry for her development of the first national inventory of greenhouse gases in university facilities. She most recently was awarded a Graduate Degree Fulbright Scholarship by the U.S.-Mexico Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange (COMEXUS). Since 2009, Ariadna has worked at the Mario Molina Center as a specialist in sustainable housing and green buildings. Her research interests include sustainable building, adaptation to climate change and mitigation of greenhouse gases (GHG), and urban resilience.



Ashley is a first year CRP master's student from Arizona. She received two B.A.s from University of California Santa Barbara in Feminist Studies and Global Studies with an emphasis in Labor Studies. Her interest in Latin America falls largely within the realms of territoriality, participatory mapping, political ecology, the link between food and cultural sovereignty, and empowerment within gendered spaces, particularly the kitchenspace.



Aubrie grew up in Washington State and received her B.A. with a focus in sustainable design at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Between school and being a mother she has spent the last six years working on a large organic farm on the Olympic Peninsula. Her interests in planning are in social justice, sustainable development and exploring how marginalized members of society gain or are provided access to water and sanitation. She is specifically interested in researching water rights and access in developing countries in Latin America. Aubrie hopes to work to develop sustainable solutions to provide for people around the world that lack access to water and sanitation.


Bianca Biduic

Originally from Romania, Bianca Bidiuc grew up in the U.S. and attended the University of Georgia where she received her A.B. in International Affairs. Her interest in Spanish and community development led her to join the volunteer staff of a non-profit that led a summer intercultural exchange program for youth in the Dominican Republic. After graduation, she moved to Austin to work with Sustainable Food Center and strengthened her knowledge of food systems, urban agriculture, and community health through her work in East Austin. She is interested in a career that encompasses local and international food systems and environmental planning for healthy, resilient communities.

Danielle Rojas (MA/MSCRP 2012)


Originally from Colorado, Danielle obtained a B.A. in International Affairs with a focus in Latin American Studies from Florida State University. During her undergraduate study, she spent several months teaching in Lima, Perú, and she also conducted research in Popayán and Bogotá, Colombia. Currently, Danielle’s M.A. studies focus on housing, environmental justice, and social relations in previously informal, now consolidated, areas around Lima’s original urban center (San Martin de Porras, San Juan de Miraflores, and Independencia.) She hopes to use the knowledge and skills from her time at UT to work with community members in South America to address issues of social housing and empowerment.



Erich is originally from North Carolina and earned his B.A. in Political Science at the University of North Carolina - Asheville. After graduating, Erich joined the Peace Corps and served in rural El Salvador as a Youth Development Volunteer. After completing his service, he worked for a non-profit in Mexico City on economic solidarity initiatives; returned to join the Peace Corps in Barranquilla, Colombia teaching English and has worked for the North Carolina Farmworkers Health Program as an Outreach Worker. At UT, Erich hopes to gain more technical skills and tools that will increase his impact on international and domestic projects that focus on social equity and community development issues.



Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Gabriel obtained a B.A. in Philosophy from La Universidad de Los Andes. Before moving to Austin he worked in México City for the Autoridad del Espacio Público, the office that promotes the development of the public space in the Mexican capital. During this period he developed an interest in the relation between inequity and urban planning as well as the possibility to empower communities through architecture. In the CRP program Gabriel hopes to acquire the necessary tools to create more equitable, sustainable and livable urban communities in Bogotá, a complex city with a recent history of remarkable urban planners but that still has to address its inequity and lack of social justice.



Gibrán was born in La Moncada, Guanajuato, a small farming community in Central Mexico. He holds a BA in political science with a global politics concentration from UT Dallas. In 2009, he worked with urban Bolivian youth for NSF-funded research into the newly promulgated constitution in Bolivia. His research interests include social and spatial justice for Latin American informal settlements and other marginalized communities. After obtaining his MSCRP, Gibrán plans on working with Latin American community development efforts and promoting sustainability and cultural preservation. His regional focus is on Andean metropolises and Mexican highland indigenous communities.



Juan is a PhD student in the CRP program. He has an undergraduate degree in architecture and a joint master's degree in urban studies from Bauhaus-Weimar University and Tongji University in Shanghai. After his return to Colombia, he has been conducting research and teaching architecture and urban design at Piloto University in Bogota and consulting for both public and private entities on transportation, affordable housing and planning. He has been awarded distinctions for his academic work by the Colombian Ministry of Education, Colombian Science and Technology Department, the Colombian Architects Society, the Institute for European Urban Studies and the Fulbright Commission. Juan's research interests include social-spatial segregation and its implications for urban form, and the future of informal settlements in Latin American cities and regions.



Kelly is originally from Indiana. During her studies at Arizona State University, she spent three months conducting research in the Ecuadorian Amazon for her undergraduate thesis. After graduating with a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Anthropology, she spent a year teaching English in rural Chile. Her research interests include transportation equity in Latin American cities and rural-urban connections. During her time at UT she hopes to investigate the currently existing initiatives to reduce social exclusion in Latin American transportation systems, with a view to using this knowledge to address transportation equity elsewhere in Latin America and the United States.



Kristine Stiphany is an architect and fellow in the Sustainable Cities Doctoral Program at the University of Texas at Austin. Born in northern Michigan, she holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan and a Master of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. Kristine was a Fulbright Fellow from May 2008 to May 2009, when she researched the building methods and materials of self built housing communities in São Paulo, after which she was Project Architect for the Bamburral favela urbanization, in collaboration with São Paulo office Brasil Arquitetura. Kristine’s current research looks at the social, technical, and political relationships between schools and self-built communities in São Paulo, Brazil.

Lauramaria Pedraza Sanchez (MSCRP 2015)

Lauramaria Pedraza Sanchez

Lauramaria grew up in Bogota, Colombia and received her BA in Architecture from Universidad de los Andes in Colombia. During her undergraduate studies, Lauramaria participated in several research projects related to transportation and social equity in low-income communities in Bogota, which led to Lauramaria's a special interest in understanding informal economic and social practices. She is member of Laboratorio Bogota and other architecture collectives that advocate for alternative and participatory planning processes to improve the urban environment. After graduation, Lauramaria wants to work in the non-profit sector and use community planning process to holistically address transportation and public space issues in Latin American cities.



Marla was born and raised in Puerto Rico, where she completed a BS in Environmental Science. Interested in topics that linked environmental changes with social processes, she earned an MA in Geography at Syracuse University, analyzing the impacts of the construction of a national road in the south of Guyana where Makushi communities live. In her thesis research, she combined spatial analysis of remote sensing imagery and GIS with interviews with community members to get a ‘bigger picture’ of local impacts of this development project. As a PhD student and still interested in the links between environmental and social impacts, she now focuses on the effects of the expansion of genetically modified soybean in rural communities in Argentina.

Matt Clifton (MSCRP 2012)


A native of Kentucky, Matt received a B.A. in Linguistics and Spanish from Georgetown University. As an undergraduate, he lived and studied for a year in Santiago, Chile. Apart from taking classes, he traveled around Southern South America from Patagonia to the Amazon Basin and also volunteered with a group taking inner-city teenagers on day-hikes through the Chilean countryside. After graduation, Matt worked for the US Census Bureau helping to develop and test survey questionnaires in Spanish. His interests in planning and Latin America center around infrastructure development, public service provision, and urban quality-of-life. He hopes to return to Latin America after graduation to work on development projects.



Matthew Martinec is a native Austinite and first year CRP student at UT-Austin. Recently his research has explored linkages between social movement and settlement pattern in the Middle East and North Africa. He is currently switching his regional focus to Latin America, beginning to detail the interaction between political economy and informal housing production. Matthew has worked with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies. He holds a BBA in economics from Texas Tech University and a MA in development economics from the American University in Cairo.



Rachel is originally from Minnesota. She earned a B.S. in Marketing and Management from the University of South Carolina. Upon graduation, she spent a year working in New Zealand, traveling in southeast Asia and studying Muy Thai in Thailand. In 2008, she bought a one way ticket to Bolivia and began an adventure that led to over two years of working, volunteering and traveling throughout South America. She has volunteered with eight nonprofits in seven different Latin American countries, working on projects ranging from building affordable housing and medical clinics to working with at-risk youth and promoting cultural education and pride. Rachel is interested in a career working as a bridge between low income people and local projects that improve the quality of life for them and their children.



Rebecca is originally from Asheville, North Carolina and received a BA in Mass Communications from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She recently spent 10 months in Guatemala working for the organization Muj'bab'l'yol ("encounter of expressions" in K'iche'). The mission of this organization was to raise awareness about the Guatemalan Civil War by constructing a memorial site and educational center. Rebecca created archives of radio broadcasts from the civil war and educated youth in developing their own radio programs, which were then translated into 5 indigenous languages and broadcast. She also worked for the organization Gente Joven, assisting with grantwriting to raise money for after school programs and scholarships for children. She hopes to return to Latin America to conduct research or work for an international organization with an environmental focus, focusing on capacity-building, participatory planning and social justice.



From Kansas City originally, Sam received his BA in Latin American Studies and Spanish Language from Tulane University. Since graduation he has worked in project management positions in Latin America with a variety of NGOs focusing on community development programming and light infrastructure initiatives. More broadly, Sam is interested in issues of third sector regulation, institutional coordination, and good governance concerns as they relate to Latin American development initiatives. At UT, Sam is pursuing a dual degree program in conjunction with CRP and the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies.



Samantha is an Austin native with a BA in Sociology from Boston University. While living in Boston, she worked in museum education and volunteered with a variety of community development organizations. Before moving back to Austin, she spent a summer working on an organic farm in Costa Rica and a year teaching English in Mexico City. She is interested in using education and design to increase civic engagement and public participation in the planning process. After her time at UT, she hopes to work with vulnerable communities in Latin America, or with recent immigrants in the US, so they can have their needs met by policy and planning decisions.



Sam hails from the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York State. He received a B.A. from New York University in Urban Design and Architecture Studies and German Language and Literature. Sam developed an initial interest in socially sustainable planning while conducting sociological work regarding collective memory in Berlin, Germany and while working in historic preservation advocacy in New York City. Working with the City of Berkeley, California on urban agriculture provisions in their Climate Action Plan, Sam fostered an interest in participatory action research, specifically working with Spanish-speaking immigrant groups. Current research and fieldwork interests include environmental and social sustainability issues along the US-Mexico border and within Latin America. Sam hopes to find work in the non-profit sector, working directly with marginalized communities on community development and sustainability issues.



Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sara has spent the last several years alternating between living in Washington, DC and the capital cities of several Latin American countries. She received a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from George Washington University with a minor in Spanish Language and Literature in 2011. After graduation she moved to Santiago, Chile where she worked at the regional headquarters of TECHO, a local organization focused on housing and community development. As an undergrad, Sara completed internships at the US Embassy in Lima, Peru and Global Fairness Initiative, a DC based NGO. She is interested in promoting social justice through more livable and inclusive urban communities and has a growing research focus on housing dynamics in informal environments.

CRP/LA Alumni

Allison Phillips (MA/MSCRP 2007)

Allison, who calls New Mexico home, earned a B.A. in biology from the University of Oregon in 1997. From 2001-2003, Allison traveled and worked in South America where she conducted ecological research in the Ecuadorian cloud forest as well as taught English in Cuzco, Peru and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. During her studies at the University of Texas at Austin, Allison focused on urban development, public space, and sustainability in Brazil. She is now working as a planner at SvR Design Company on projects related to bicycle facility design and low impact development in the Seattle metropolitan area. She hopes to work in the future on similar projects in Brazil.

Colleen McGue (MA/MSCRP 2011)

Colleen earned her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame with a minor in Portuguese/Brazilian Studies. As an undergraduate student, Colleen spent several months as an intern with Maryknoll Laymissioners in São Paulo, Brazil and as a student in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. During her graduate studies at UT, Colleen volunteered as a visitor with the Hutto Visitation Program, an immigrant detention visitation program at the T. Don Hutto Facility outside of Austin. Her Master's thesis project incorporated a combination of field interviews and GIS analysis to examine the intersection between transportation equity and race in São Paulo. Colleen currently resides in Sarasota, Florida where she directs the Community Data Initiative at SCOPE, a local nonprofit focused on community engagement. She is also teaching a course called "Community & Regional Development in Latin America" as an adjunct professor at New College of Florida.

Edward Hammond (MA/MSCRP 1995)

Edward was born in San Antonio, TX and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He came to the joint program from the University of Richmond (History, 1990) and two years' work in Washington, DC and Peru on land rights and Amazonian indigenous peoples. As a Master's Fellow of the Inter-American Foundation, he completed an MA/MSCRP thesis on pharmaceutical bioprospecting in northeastern Peru in 1995. Since graduating, Edward has worked for international non-governmental organizations in research and advocacy. With the Rural Advancement Foundation International (now the ETC Group), he worked on agriculture, genetic resources, and related aspects of intellectual property. He later led the Sunshine Project, an NGO focusing on biological weapons, where his research on "non-lethal" weapons and the growth of biodefense projects was profiled in Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5685.768) and spawned several national news stories. Based in Texas, Edward now works as independent researcher and writer. His interests are agricultural genetic resources, infectious disease policy, intellectual property, and freedom of information laws. His clients include the World Health Organization, Third World Network, Greenpeace International, and the African Centre for Biosafety.

Ethan Colaice (MA/MSCRP 1998)

Ethan joined the joint program from Beloit College, where he majored in Spanish and English Literature with a minor in Journalism. His main interest at UT was Latin American urbanization and the particular issue of urban primacy, which also was the focus of his thesis research in Ecuador. Ethan very much enjoyed his three years at UT, he says, where he found the academic environment intense yet collegial, and the program filled with smart and talented people from around the world. Since UT, he has worked in the urban planning and economics consulting field in Boston and in 2003 he joined Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, Inc. as a Development Director in his hometown of Providence, RI. SBER specializes in urban adaptive re-use projects and Ethan has been involved in the acquisition and redevelopment of several underutilized and abandoned historic mill properties. He says that the benefits of the dual degree have extended beyond technical skills. His work puts him in constant contact with residents from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador, and his Spanish skills and understanding and appreciation of their cultures create a level of trust that others would not be able to approximate. The experience in the joint program has made him a more well-rounded and effective professional.

Geoff Valdés (MA/MSRCP 2000)

Geoff Valdés is originally from Wisconsin and received a B.S. in Latin American Studies from the University of Wisconsin in 1994. He was a student in the dual degree program in CRP and Latin American Studies from 2000-2003 and completed his thesis on the intersection between food sovereignty and indigenous organizing in the Tehuantepec Isthmus region of Mexico in the fall of 2007. He spent extended periods in Mexico conducting his research. Geoff has lived in Austin for 8 years and currently runs a small garden-related business with his family. He also continues to work with gardening and food sovereignty projects in the US and Mexico.

George McQueen (MA-LAS/MSCRP 2011)

Growing up on the US/Mexico border in Arizona, George has always been drawn south — whether to "lunchear" on tacos or to travel overland to Argentina, and back. Since earning BA's in English and Spanish (minor in Music) at Northern Arizona University, George has worn several caps, including those of journalist, activist, carpenter, teacher, camping guide and traveler. He hopes to combine his years of preservation experience with his observations as a municipal reporter (and education at UT) to understand planning issues affecting historic districts, particularly in Latin America.

Gina Casey (MA/MSRCP 2011)

Gina earned her B.A. degree in Latin American Studies and Spanish at the University of Texas at Austin. During her undergraduate program, she spent semesters in Valparaíso, Chile and Salvador, Brazil. Upon graduation, she traveled through Central America and worked as an English professor at Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University in Nicaragua, before she moved to Washington D.C. to conduct research on human rights issues in Mexico and Central America for the Washington Office on Latin America. During her graduate research, she conducted interviews in an informally settled community in Santo Domingo to examine the effects of transportation mega-projects on vulnerable populations in the region. Gina now works for a nonprofit in Boston, Massachusetts, where she advocates for the housing rights of low-income people, including political refugees and undocumented immigrants, who are currently residing in emergency shelters in Boston.

Heather Lamboy (MA/MSCRP 1998)

Heather (Pierson) Lamboy, AICP, joined the Joint Program due to her positive experience in the undergraduate honors Latin American Studies Program at UT. She was familiar with the challenges of the program and enjoyed the dialogue and educational opportunities, both book-learned and hands-on. Heather says her most important learning experience was a housing policy project in the Colonias of Texas and Mexico, which showed her that Latin American issues were not isolated to Latin America. Heather has worked in different public and private sector planning positions in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Seattle, Washington, and Denver, Colorado before her current position as Principal Planner with the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission in Tampa, Florida. She finds her tenure with the LAS/CRP program serves her well in her day-to-day work, from being able to counsel on zoning and comprehensive planning matters in Spanish, to developing local government legislation sensitive to the needs and desires of Hispanic groups within the community. Heather is grateful for the experience and knowledge she gained at the University of Texas as it helps her to be a more effective planner.

Jeremiah Carew (MA/MSRCP 2000)

Jeremiah came to UT-Austin with undergraduate degree in architecture from Yale University (1991). As a student in the joint degree program, he focused on affordable housing and substandard residential subdivisions (colonias) on the Texas side of the Texas-Mexico border. His three years at UT were a lot of hard work, but the education here provided him with strong quantitative, research and program evaluation skills that he uses every day in his current job. The Latin America coursework gave him a tremendous leg up on understanding country context and development issues he encounters every day as a deputy program officer for the US Agency for International Development Mission in Peru (USAID/PERU). His job responsibilities include strategic planning and program evaluation to ensure that funds are spent on projects with the highest development impact. He says it is exciting to be involved in making such important decisions, and playing a major part as a donor in a country's development. Read more about Jeremiah's work at the United States Agency for International Development.

Lindsey Engelman (MA/MSCRP 2011)


Lindsey grew up in Houston and then Austin, and obtained a B.A. in Legal Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2004. As an undergraduate, Lindsey worked as a health promoter in HIV prevention and harm reduction. After college she spent three years working as a legal assistant in an environmental law firm in Austin. She also spent a year working as a human rights accompanier in rural Guatemala, assisting victims who are participating in a national criminal-case against the intellectual designers of the country's genocide. Lindsey's research interests are focused on sustainability and human rights as they relate to environmental justice, especially in Latin America.

Mark Lundy (MA/MSCRP 1995)

Mark Lundy graduated from the joint CRP / LA in 1995 after completing a BA in International Relations at American University. During his time at UT he spent a year in Ecuador working for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fundación Natura and wrote his thesis on the Community Development Corporation model promoted by the Fundación Carvajal in Cali, Colombia. Mark currently works as a Senior Researcher at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, CIAT, in Cali, Colombia. His work focuses on rural enterprise development with smallholder farmers and includes topics such as the establishment of learning networks to increase NGO and farmer capacities for enterprise development, how private companies can better partner with smallholder farmers, the role of public and donor agencies in supporting market linkages and how to establish and sustain effective trading relationships between buyers and smallholder farmers that add business value while reducing rural poverty. Mark is lead author of a series of guides on participatory rural enterprise development and an active participant in the Sustainable Food Lab and other multi-stakeholder forums focused on sustainability and smallholder inclusion in Latin America and Africa.

Matt Beyers (MA/MSCRP 1997)

Matt Beyers has been an epidemiologist at the Alameda County Public Health Department since 2003. Coming into the UT program, Matt had five years experience as an electrical engineer in quality control. While at UT, Matt was primarily interested in economic and community development, taking courses in sociology, geography, and economics. He made three trips to Nicaragua studying urban agriculture for his professional report. His work since receiving his master's degrees in Latin American Studies and in Community and Regional Planning in 1997 has included stints as an economic development consultant and as a research director at a nonprofit.

Meredith Bossin (MA/MSCRP 2009)

Meredith, originally from Houston, Texas, received her B.A. in the History of Art and Architecture from Rice University. After a six-month trip to South America, she decided to pursue a degree in Latin American Studies and chose the University of Texas because of the opportunity to get a joint degree in Planning and Latin American Studies. The focus of her research is gender issues in the context of international development. She volunteered with ProyectArte, a non-profit art program in Buenos Aires, during the summer of 2006 and completed the Civil Society Institute Program in Mexico in the Summer 2007 semester. Meredith is currently a Senior Planner for the City of Austin Planning & Development Review Department. Meredith's M.A. Thesis can be viewed online.

Monica Bosquez (MA/MSCRP 2009)

Monica, native of Corpus Christi, Texas, earned a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Texas at Austin before working as an analyst and legislative aide at the Texas Legislature, where she focused on natural resource and Border policy. Monica then served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Panama as an Environmental Conservation Volunteer from 2002-2005. She is currently employed as a Program Specialist with the Office of Rural Community Affairs. Future goals include development work in Latin America.

Omar Díaz (MA-LAS/MSCRP 2011)

Omar comes from the El Paso/Juarez border, where border politics and social issues have no indication of slowing down. He received double BA’s in Electronic Media and Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso. During his undergraduate program, Omar had a variety of jobs such as substitute teacher, baker, television camera man, writer, and food/wine taster, all of which influenced and fed his hunger for perspective. Two of Omar's main concerns are the lack of communication and threats to sustainable culture in border city communities. The focus of Omar's research is to support and sustain border communities by implementing community regional planning methods to help sustain border cultures. Upon graduation he will seek a way to expand his studies and practice globally.

Peter Almlie (MA/MSCRP 2010)

Peter, originally from Seattle, completed his BA in Latin American Studies at San Diego State University, where he focused on housing issues in Mixtec communities in Oaxaca, Mexico. After extensive travels throughout Latin America, he worked for a non-profit agency which focused on providing housing in the peripheral colonias of Tijuana. Seeking a greater understanding of the built environment, Peter entered the dual degree program at UT Austin where he completed his thesis on infrastructure development in colonias in Mexico.

Polly Morrison (MA/MSCRP 1994)

Polly, originally from Washington State, came to UT after volunteering and working in Monteverde, Costa Rica for nearly four years. A graduate of Pacific Lutheran University (1986) in history and international studies, Polly entered the joint degree program in 1991 and, during her three years at UT, focused on community development and conservation efforts in Latin America. After graduation, Polly moved to Paraguay as a Population-Environment Fellow (a program managed by the University of Michigan), where she worked with a local NGO to study the perceptions that local people had of protected areas. Now in the U.S., she has worked for The Nature Conservancy, Georgetown University's Center for International Education and Development and, currently, at Conservation International. Her interests and career remain focused on the importance of healthy ecosystems for economic development and human well-being and she credits the joint program with providing the skills, knowledge and exchange of ideas that have allowed her to pursue her interests.

Rachael Die (MA/MSCRP 2012)


Rachael is a Texas native who earned her B.A. degree in Anthropology and Sociology at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. During her undergraduate experiences, she studied abroad in Valaparaíso and Temuco, Chile. Her research in Chile focused on indigenous land rights issues with the Mapuche. Rachael's thesis research focused on neoliberal tourism development and its social and economic consequences in Bocas del Toro, Panamá. Currently, she is working as a planner with the Parks Department in Houston, Texas.



Rolf is Director of the Metropolitan Housing & Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute. His research expertise includes land use planning and regulation; federal, state, and local affordable housing policy and programs; and metropolitan planning and development. Between 1998 and mid-2010, Rolf was a tenure-track and tenured professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. In 2007, Rolf was appointed to a National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board panel on links between land use, transportation, energy, and greenhouse gas emissions; the committee's report, "Driving and the Built Environment", was released in September 2009. Rolf holds a PhD (1995) in City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley, an MS in Community and Regional Planning and an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin (1989), and a BA in sociology from Kenyon College in Ohio (1984).

Sean McKaughan (MA/MSCRP 1996)

Sean earned a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree from UT's Plan II program before he entered the dual degree program in CRP and Latin American Studies. As a graduate student, he was particularly interested in sustainable development, resource management and issues surrounding drought in Brazil. When he was in the joint program, the field of sustainable development was just opening up. Sustainable development is multi-disciplinary by nature, he says, and UT offered him an amazing diversity of quality programs, from natural sciences, to business, to public policy and economics. The joint-degree program allowed him to put together all of those elements in a "build-it-yourself" approach, and the result was a strong base for his subsequent work with sustainable development in Mexico, Brazil and other parts of Latin America. Sean is now the CEO of Fundación AVINA and responsible for its 22 offices, 150 employees and portfolio of 1000 partners in 11 Latin American countries. AVINA contributes to sustainable development in Latin America by supporting leaders from business and civil society, and promoting productive alliances among them. He lives with his family in Rio de Janeiro, but travels frequently throughout South and Central America.

Stephen Ramos (MA/MSCRP 2000)

Stephen enrolled in the joint degree program at UT-Austin with a B.A. in English and Spanish Literature from Gettysburg College. After graduating from Gettysburg he worked for three years as director of the Project Gettysburg-León Sister City group in León, Nicaragua, where he focused on housing and urbanization projects in informal settlements. His thesis research at UT explored urban social movements for public infrastructure by comparing the colonias movement in Guadalajara, Mexico with the COPS experience in San Antonio, Texas, advised by Dr. Michael Oden and Dr. Bryan Roberts. After graduating, he moved to Spain to work for the Fundación Metrópoli urban research center in Madrid, where projects included a new city competition for Shanghai, a waterfront development for Casablanca, and a proposal to convert the Madrid ring road into a boulevard. Stephen is presently a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a Dubai Initiative Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, where his research focuses large-scale trade infrastructure as mechanism for territorial organization in rapidly urbanizing contexts. He is a founding editor of the journal New Geographies, which focuses on contemporary issues of urbanism and architecture.

Vanessa Martinez (MA/MSCRP 2012)


Vanessa grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she received B.A. degrees in English and Music from Nebraska Wesleyan University. Her undergraduate studies focused primarily on literary translation from Spanish to English, and clarinet performance. After college, she spent time working for Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest as the State Coordinator for "Nebraska Is Home," a community-led initiative to create a sense of shared values around the topics of immigrants and immigration. Her current research involves U.S.-Mexico migration as it relates to participatory planning, and the economic well being of migrants and their families. She also hopes to develop research aimed at utilizing music as a tool for social justice, especially in marginalized communities.


The Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) is a multidisciplinary institute under the umbrella of the College of Liberal Arts. Founded in 1940, LLILAS is a language and national resource center under Title VI of the Higher Education Act, integrating more than 30 academic departments at UT and offering programs that lead to the B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees. It is one of the leading Latin American Studies institutes in the nation and offers multiple study abroad and research opportunities. To learn more about the work of LLILAS alumni, please visit www.utexas.edu/cola/insts/llilas/faculty/.