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Nan Ellin, PhD
Executive Director

Dr. Ellin’s research, creative work, teaching, community engagement, and administrative activities aim to transform challenges into opportunities for promoting urban, environmental, community, and institutional health and well-being. Her writings have been widely cited and translated into 13 languages. She has been recognized for her research and creative work with numerous awards, worldwide speaking engagements, and invitations to serve on governing boards. Dr. Ellin’s efforts bridge disciplines and professions, theory and practice, the classroom with the community, and academic and general audiences.

Shima Hamidi, PhD 

Dr. Hamidi has been involved in several national grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Transportation Research Board, National Institute of Transportation and Communities, American Association of Retired Persons, National Institutes of Health, Ford Foundation, and Smart Growth America. She has written more than 25 journal articles and a book on transportation, urban design, and walkability, as well as urban form and its quality-of-life impacts. The results of her research were presented in a national press release in partnership with Smart Growth America and have been cited in more than 100 national and regional newspapers and magazines such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and CNN Money.


Alan Klein, MCRP, MBA 
Assistant Director

alan kleinAlan's concentration is on community and economic development and revitalization, with focused experience in analyzing and assisting rural and suburban communities in Texas. After receiving his BA in English and MBA in finance from the University of Texas, Alan had many years of experience in the thrift and banking industries in Texas and earned his Master of City and Regional Planning from UT Arlington in 2010. Since then, he has assisted communities throughout Texas as a private consultant, then as assistant director of the Institute of Urban Studies.

Research Assistants

(Summer 2016)

Kukhyoung Kim 
Graduate Research Assistant

Kim is a doctoral student in planning and landscape architecture. She holds a master’s in urban planning from the State University of New York at Buffalo and Bachelor of Engineering in Architecture from South Korea. During her master’s education, Kim focused on economic development planning for disadvantaged people in terms of low income. Her focus areas for her doctoral degree are transportation planning for disadvantaged communities, especially immigrants and women. At IUS, Kim contributes through her expertise in data collection, data analysis, and visualization.

Yalcin Yildirim 
Graduate Research Assistant

Yalcin is pursuing Graduate Research Assistant

Yalcin is pursuing a PhD in urban planning and public policy with an urban design and physical planning concentration. He earned a bachelor’s in landscape architecture from Ege University in Turkey, KATHO from Belgium, and a master’s in landscape architecture from Mississippi State University. Yalcin has participated in projects that include Memphis Arkwings Living Space design, the first greenway project for the city of Mississippi State; the Mississippi River Delta water restoration project; Dilek Peninsula National Park biosphere reserve in Turkey; and the Scottish Monument project in Belgium. His master’s thesis was about soundscape and its relationship with the people and public open spaces. Yalcin is currently conducting research about sound/noise assessment, and he aims to connect sound/noise assessment with the green infrastructure for his dissertation. He is contributing to the institute by serving several research analyses, such as land use, comprehensive plans, and healthy community plans.

Myriam Igoufe 
Graduate Research Assistant

Myriam is a PhD student in urban planning and public policy. She went to law school at Sorbonne University in Paris and then earned a master’s in public administration. Myriam has experience working on community and economic development projects in the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex. Her practical experiences include developing place-activation and economic development strategies, construction project planning, contract litigation, and land sale as well as research proposal writing. Her area of research gravitates around transportation planning and economics. She has expertise in data and spatial analysis as well as economic policy and focuses on transportation planning, travel behavior, equity, economics, and housing policy.

Ishrath Amina Taj
Graduate Research Assistant

Amina is a budding architect working toward a master's in architecture. She graduated with a bachelor's in architecture from India. Her passion lies in healthcare architecture, and she has worked with EYP Architecture and Engineering in Dallas. In India, she interned with leading architecture firms on large-scale commercial projects.

Hamid Hajjafari  
Graduate Research Assistant

Hamid is a doctoral student in urban planning and public policy. He received his BS in architecture and his master’s in urban design from the University of Sheffield. He has worked in Iran and the UK on projects related to architecture, urban design, and landscape design. Hamid’s areas of research are the intelligent transportation system, public health and urban planning, and climate change adaptation. He believes that by using the experiences of other countries, we can make our neighborhoods more sustainable and vibrant. His most recent research has focused on urban sprawl and housing foreclosure.

Golnaz Keshavarzi  
Graduate Research Assistant

Golnaz is a PhD student in urban planning and public policy who earned a Master of Sustainable Architecture of Land Scale Projects in Politecnico di Milano, Italy. During her PhD career, Golnaz has focused on smart cities and the application and influence of information and communication technology on urban life. She has advanced visualization/graphic skills and has worked as a marketing designer for the institute, responsible for designing the website, logo, reports, newsletter, etc. Additionally, Golnaz has worked as an architect, interior designer, and urban designer in several residential, office, and commercial complex design projects.

Kaustubh Gosavi  
Graduate Research Assistant

Kaustubh Gosavi is pursuing a dual master’s in city and regional planning and transportation engineering. He holds a bachelor’s in civil engineering with a focus on structural engineering from the University of Mumbai in India. He has previously worked as an intern for engineering firms in India as a junior site manager and engineer. He is interested in bridging the gap between transportation engineers and planners on topics relevant to both professional fields. At the institute, Kaustubh focuses on research and practice in the field of transportation modeling and analysis, helping communities with thoroughfare plans, bike network facilities, city transportation plans, and other relevant needs.

Ahoura Zandiatashbar 
Graduate Research Assistant

Ahoura is a PhD student in planning and landscape architecture. He holds a Master of Architecture II from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the geofutures program. While earning his master’s, Ahoura participated in research projects regarding Los Angeles Agriscape, revitalization of Shiraz’s inner city’s urban heritage, and safety assessment in heritage residential neighborhoods. He has presented and published the results of his research activities in local academic journals and international conferences. During his PhD career, he pursues his research interests in city branding, economic development via social-cultural enhancement, and economic growth associated with the TOD and innovation districts developments. Ahoura is skilled in spatial analysis techniques through GIS products and in visualization/graphic techniques and web design.

Reza Paziresh 
Graduate Research Assistant

Reza is a master’s student in landscape architecture. He earned his first master’s degree in environmental design engineering from the University of Tehran and holds an undergraduate degree in landscape engineering from Tabriz University. He has published or has in review articles in journals including the Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology and the International Journal of Landscape and Urban Planning. He also has presented papers at national and international conferences including the International Conference on Tourism and Environment in Spain in 2011 and the International Federation of Landscape Architects Cultural Landscape Conference in Iran in 2014. During his education, he has had seven-plus years of experience in designing and implementing international landscape project with landscape companies in Tehran, Iran.

Rama Boyapati  
Graduate Research Assistant

Ram holds a master’s in transportation engineering and a bachelor’s in civil engineering from India, where he developed a routing network plan for his hometown. He has engaged in research in various pertinent areas in commuter studies, including a comparison of gap acceptance behavior by U.S. and Indian drivers, traffic simulation models, delay analysis, and implementation of actuated signals at two major intersections in the city of Vijayawada in India. His current research interests are auto parking management systems (IAPS), intelligent transportation systems, and grid pattern travel networks.

Shirin Ghorbani 
Graduate Research Assistant

Shirin is a master’s student in architecture and earned her bachelor’s in architecture from Iran. She has experience working internationally on architecture- and design-related projects for municipalities. Her practical experience ranges from revitalization projects to economic development as well as community-based design. Shirin focuses on architectural sustainability and green design. She has expertise in community planning, urban design, and historical preservation.

Abeer AlMughrabi
Graduate Research Assistant

Abeer is a PhD candidate in urban planning and public policy. She is an accomplished and seasoned urban planner with a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Arizona with a focus on sustainable development and environmental and land use planning. She has prepared several comprehensive plans for different communities, most of which depended heavily on the public participation approach. With her very strong vision and management, negotiation, and presentation skills, Abeer worked as a project manager in numerous projects including community development, youth empowerment, economic cultivation, and tourism and place branding. With her passion for community organization and development, she ran for the Jordanian parliament in 2013 to be able to have political influence

Ridvan Kirimli 
Graduate Research Assistant

Ridvan is a PhD student in urban planning and public policy. He received a BS in public administration from Nigde University in Turkey and a Master of Urban Planning from Texas A&M University. His master’s paper was about community development and affordable housing for Habitat for Humanity in the Bryan–College Station area. His research at the Institute of Urban Studies includes affordable housing, community development, transit-oriented development, and economic development. He is a member of the American Planning Association and president of the Turkish Student Association at UT Arlington.

Somayeh Moazzeni 
Graduate Research Assistant

Somayeh is a PhD student in urban planning and public policy. She received her master’s in geography and urban planning in Iran. Somayeh has experience using GIS, InDesign, SketchUp, AutoCAD, ESRI online, and CUBE. She has experience working with city managers on many public projects either independently or on a team. To advance her knowledge of urban issues, Somayeh has joined the American Planning Association and Woman in Transportation (WTS) as vice president. Her area of interest is transportation, specifically the impact of tolls on generating demands.