photo of Gibran Lule-Hurtado

Gibran Lule-Hurtado

Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning

Gibrán is from La Moncada, Guanajuato, Mexico and has lived in Texas for the past ten years. He taught bilingual third and fourth grade after completing his undergraduate studies and in 2015 obtained an MS in Community and Regional Planning form UT-Austin. Conversations and courses at UT steered him in the direction of preservation, community engagement, and disaster resilience; his master’s professional report analyzes flood risk and mitigation strategies for historic structures in Querétaro, Mexico—a UNESCO World Heritage site. He is currently working on sustainability, public involvement, and conservation issues in the United States and Latin America with Boulder-based nonprofit Environment for the Americas.

photo of Sara McTarnaghan

Sara McTarnaghan

Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning, Master of Arts in Latin American Studies

Sara McTarnaghan is a master’s degree candidate pursuing a joint degree in Community and Regional Planning and Latin American Studies (graduation May 2015).  She holds a bachelor of arts in international affairs and a minor in Spanish language and literature from George Washington University. 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 research focus on public housing in Chile and Brazil. 

Erich Melville

Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning

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.

Gabriel Ortiz

Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning

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.

photo of Shavone Otero

Shavone Otero

Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning

Shavone Otero is a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she was actively involved in her community as an Arts Columnist with Local iQ, T.V. correspondent on The Morning Brew, co-founder/Traditonal Zone Leader of the Albuquerque Rail Yards Market, and flamenco dancer with Dance España. She is an advocate for cultural preservation and community resilience and seeks to perform academia in non-traditional, more accessible mediums of knowledge-sharing, such as performative arts, hip-hop culture, and “old-school” cultural/spiritual practices.

In undergrad, she interned at El Centro de la Raza and UNM Service Corps.  Shavone studied abroad in London for a theater class at the University of Westminster in the summer of 2007, studied poetry at the University of Sheffield in the fall of 2008, and studied cultural identity in Granada, Nicaragua in the summer of 2010 as a Ronald E. McNair/Research Opportunity Program scholar. Her research project was titled “Deconstructing post-colonial cultural identity and hybridity: Documenting the fiestas of Santiago Apóstol in Nicaragua.”

Shavone is currently obtaining two Masters in Community & Regional Planning + Latin American Studies at UT Austin with a Graduate Portfolio in Sustainability.  Her thesis is titled “The Informal Canvas: Murals and Community-based Agency in Informal Settlements in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic — The Geography & Politics of Muralism.” Her thesis focuses on using the arts, specifically community-based muralism in public spaces, as a transformative planning practice for working with neglected, marginalized communities in informal settlements. She is interested in how social movements are connecting globally in solidarity through digital media and arts-based practice.

Shavone is the Graduate Research Assistant for City Forum in the Community & Regional Planning Program and is the Social Chair of ILASSA, the Graduate Student Association of Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies at UT Austin.  Shavone occasionally writes about live music in Austin for Austin Songwriter and enjoys international adventures, social butterflying, running half-marathons, representing “Burque”, New Mexico, and DJing with the Chulita Vinyl Club (an all vinyl, all female Latina DJ collective based in Austin/San Antonio & Bay Area).  ¡Órale!

Lauramaria Pedraza Sanchez

Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning

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.

Brent Perdue

Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning, Master of Public Affairs

photo of Alejandra Reyes

Alejandra Reyes

Originally from Zacatecas, México, Alejandra received her B.A. in Architecture at UC Berkeley and a M.S, in Community and Regional Planning at UT Austin. Her Master's thesis evaluated recent housing and densification programs in Mexico City which meant to increase housing access and repopulate the urban core. The main focus of this research, which she has presented at a number of academic conferences (Urban Affairs Association, The International Studies Association, and Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning), was on local governance and how it influenced, either positively or negatively, the drafting and implementation of such programs. As a Master's student, she also collaborated with Dr. Peter Ward on his research on Texas colonias and informal subdivisions, and with Dr. Elizabeth Mueller as a Graduate Research Assistant.

Her current research focuses on the implications of increasingly problematic rates of housing vacancy in various Mexican regions, which are paradoxically coupled with persistent housing shortages. She is particularly interested on studying the roles of the Mexican State and the market in reproducing such conditions, and in driving housing production and urban development in an apparently unsustainable way, in both socioeconomic and environmental terms. A central hypothesis is that housing finance policy, characterized by the liberalization of credit and its support to a monopolistic and speculative real estate sector, may be fostering a mismatch between the private housing supply, and the actual housing needs of the Mexican population. 

photo of Ariadna Reyes Sanchez

Ariadna Reyes Sanchez

Ph.D. in Community and Regional Planning

Originally from Mexico City, Ariadna is a Ph.D. Candidate for the Doctoral Program in Community and Regional Planning. Civil engineer and Fulbright and CONACYT fellow. She holds an MSc in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) in Mexico City where she graduated with honors. The Mexican Environmental Ministry recognized her master’s degree thesis because she developed the first inventory of greenhouse gasses in university facilities in Mexico which had been used as a  reference for other colleges.

Ariadna gave speeches and presentations on strategies to tackle climate change in the built environment for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CCE) of North America. From 2009 to 2013, she worked at the Mario Molina Center as a specialist in sustainable housing and vulnerability to climate change. The Mario Molina Center is a Mexican think tank on climate change and energy which is directly managed by the Mexican Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1995), Dr. Mario Molina. At the Mario Molina Center, she led the environmental assessment of the  "Evaluation of the Sustainability of Mexican Social Housing," which federal institutions and private sector have used to design housing policies and strategies. 

Ariadna presented her doctoral research at the Urban Affairs Association Conference in 2013 and 2016; at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) Conference in 2014, 2015, and 2016; at the International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology (ISSST) in 2015; and at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in 2016.

In her dissertation, Ariadna seeks to unpack sustainability in forms of housing development in Mexico City's Metropolitan Area, particularly in consolidated informal settlements, known as colonias populares.  A sustainable form of housing development enables the urban poor to exercise their right to live in a resilient, compact, and climate just city (Adger, 2006; Agyeman, 2005; Davoudi, 2009; Shrestha, Ojha, McManus, Rubbo, and Dhote, 2014; Steele et al., 2012). 

Ariadna's research interests include climate justice and just sustainability, radical and insurgent planning theory, and environmental life cycle assessment. 

Ariadna serves as Teacher Assistant of the Quantitative Methods class, which is taught by Dr. Jake Wegmann, for the MSc Program in Community and Regional Planning.


Ashley Richardson

Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning

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.

Samuel Tabory

Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning, Master of Arts in Latin American Studies

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.

photo of Marla Torrado Fernandez

Marla Torrado Fernandez

Ph.D. in Community and Regional Planning

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, I have always been interested in the environment and nature. As a result, I completed a B.S. in Environmental Science at the University of Puerto Rico, analyzing the hydrologic impacts of development projects in a small watershed of Río Guaynabo through a time-series analysis of satellite images. Interested to combine environmental studies with community engagement, I moved to the field of aGeography. My work as a Master’s student looked at the social and environmental impacts that could follow the construction of a national road in southern Guyana, area home to the Makushi indigenous communities. Able to return to Puerto Rico after my studies, I worked with the International Institute of Tropical Forestry of the U.S. Forest Service as a researcher. My work looked at the future impacts of sea level rise and global warming on the coasts of Puerto Rico, specifically on coastal ecosystems and population centers. Lastly, as a researcher in the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico, I worked in the Mapa de Vida project, and initiative that brings together scientists and volunteers from around the island to learn about different ecosystems, the problems they currently face, and how to minimize impacts.

photo of Juan Yunda

Juan Yunda

Ph.D. in Community and Regional Planning

Juan is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas at Austin in the program Community and Regional Planning. He has an undergraduate degree in architecture from the National University of Colombia and a joint master degree in urban design and planning from Bauhaus-Weimar University and Tongji University in Shanghai. For his M.Sc., he conducted research on the subject of urban redevelopment forms and their social impacts in the city of Xiamen, China. During his time in Europe, he participated in research projects focused on airport regions and urban revitalization, and as practitioner, he worked on urban design and architecture projects in China, Spain, Bulgaria and Germany. In Colombia, he has been conducting research and teaching in architecture and urban design at the Pilot University in Bogota. In addition he has worked as urban planning consultant for both public and private entities on transportation, affordable housing and zoning codes. He has been awarded grants and distinctions for his academic research by the Colombian Ministry of Education, Colombian Science and Technology Department, the Colombian Architects Society, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the Institute for European Urban Studies and the Fulbright Commission. Juan's research interests include sustainable urban design, urban morphology, socio-spatial segregation and informal settlements in Latin America.