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Environmental and Geological Sciences Specialization
Geography Specialization




Environmental and Geological Sciences

Aaron Davitt        
MA, City College, New York, NY; BA, University of Denver, Denver, CO.            

Research Interests: Remote sensing; UAVSAR; SMAP; agriculture; drought; food supply; soil moisture; climate change    

Advisor: Kyle McDonald
Dissertation Research: The use of remote sensing to assess agriculture conditions    
Agricultural productivity is highly sensitive to water availability and regional climate. The impact of climate change on these factors presents a challenge for crop management, especially in drought prone regions. Improved water management through informed decision making based on remote sensing of crop condition would benefit growers in drought-impacted regions. However, a thorough and robust understanding of the linkages of remote sensing-based surface parameters, e.g. soil moisture and crop health, spatially and temporally, has been lacking. 

Currently, my research is focusing on NASA UAVSAR (Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar) data in Yolo County, California (in the Central Valley of California) to determine its utility for informing on crop conditions. Backscatter data collected from the region is being analyzed to assess the suitability of extracting soil moisture and assess crop condition from time series backscatter imagery acquired during growing season and between years. The use of such data can potentially reveal within and between field differences that can underpin a framework for a decision support system that would help agricultural growers improve and identify key variables supporting water management practices for optimum crop health and yield.     

Affiliations: CUNY Environmental CrossRoads Initiative

Mark J. Dempsey
MA Geography, Hunter College, New York

Research Interests: Atmosphere, urban boundary layer, planetary boundary layer, severe weather, tornadoes, weather, climate, storm chasing, storm photography

Advisor: James F. Booth
Dissertation Research: Remote Sensing the Urban Boundary Layer: Discerning Its Depth and Vertical Structure 

I am interested in chasing and photographing severe weather in the Great Plains during the summer and during the rest of the year I examine wind plots and contour plots showing the micro to mesoscale weather dynamics of the atmosphere over New York City.

Affiliations: NYCMetNet

Rocky Garcia
City College; Arizona State University
M.A.S. Arizona State University

Research Interests: Climate change; weather; hazards; atmospheric; modeling; GIS; 

Advisor: Jimmy Booth
Dissertation Research: “Modeling Extra Tropical Storm Surge in the Northeast Corridor”

After serving 8 years as a U.S. Air Force Meteorologist and completing a B.S. and M.A.S at Arizona State University, Rocky is now continuing his doctoral studies at the City University of New York.  As an Environmental Science Ph.D. Candidate he is combining his passion for meteorology, knowledge of Geographic Information Science and  his unique approach to interdisciplinary research to study extreme weather, climate and the resulting impacts to human life. 

Rocky's research examines the impacts of weather and climate with an emphasis on extreme weather and health in urban environments. Recent projects include statistical analysis of health and environmental data sets to improve understanding of the impact of high temperatures on human morbidity and mortality in the Southwest United States. Future research aims to better model extra-tropical storm surge in the Northeast United States through statistical modeling. 

Developing research considers how to facilitate effective governance and communication strategies for climate adaptation. These efforts are motivated by the overarching goal of reducing unnecessary weather-related illnesses and deaths through effective mitigation and intervention strategies.


  • "Non-Convective Wind Forecast Study Coastal Barrier Jets – Pacific Northwest, 2010 25th Operational Weather Squadron Air Force Weather Agency – Internal

  • Non-Convective Wind Forecast Study Leeside Trofs – Montana Missile Range, 2010 25th Operational Weather Squadron Air Force Weather Agency – Internal”


  • Awarded Acceptance into the NASA DEVELOP Langley Research Center Fellowship Program, Summer 2015

  • Granted NOAA-Crest Doctoral Fellowship, Fall 2014

  • Awarded Highly Competitive Assignment to the Airman Education and Commissioning Program, 2010

  • 1st Weather Group Airman of the Year, 2008

  • 25th Operational Weather Squadron Airman of the Year, 2008

  • Two Time CMSgt. Kennedy Memorial Scholarship Award Recipient, 2008/2009

  • Air Force Pitsenbarger Award Winner for Outstanding Academic Achievement, 2008

Affiliations: NOAA Crest Institute, NASA Langley Research Cente



Annesia Lamb

Research Interests: Eutrophication; nitrogen pollution; ecosystem consequences of seaweed; macroalgae; ulva spp.; marine science; seaweed cultivation; water quality shifts; regime shifts; resilience; Jamaica Bay, New York

Advisor: Brett F. Branco
Dissertation Research: “Seasonal Nitrogen Storage in Seaweed Beds in Jamaica Bay, New York”

My research includes answering questions related to ecosystem consequences of excess nitrogen loads in urban estuaries. My field sites are in Jamaica Bay, New York. I monitor the seasonal nitrogen storage in seaweed beds and identify the seaweed abundance and genra that occur in the Bay. 

Harry Maisch IV
MS, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, New York

Research Interests: Paleontology; Chondrichthyans; Osteichthyans; Taphonomy; Cenozoic Oceanography

Advisor: John Chamberlain Jr.
Dissertation Research: The use of chondrichthyan teeth in stratigraphic correlation, chronostratigraphic interpretation, and geochemistry

Harry Maisch IV's research interests focus on Cenozoic shark and fish assemblages, shark evolution, the use of shark teeth in stratigraphic correlation and in chemical analyses.

Dhiman Mondal
M.Sc., Dhaka University, Bangladesh

Research Interests: Geology; Geodynamics; Tectonics; Paleoseismology; Indo-Burma Foldbelt; 1762 Arakan Eartquake; GPS Survey; Coral; Coseismic Uplift; U/Th Ages

Advisor: Cecilia McHugh
Dissertation Research: “Geology and Geodynamics of the Indo-Burma fold belt: Understanding Interseismic and Coseismic Deformation of 1762 and Similar Prior Earthquakes”

This research project involves geodynamic and paleoseismic studies of the northern segment of Indo-Burma subduction zone extending from the Saint Martin Island to Chittagong along the southeast coast of Bangladesh. The objectives of the proposed study are to investigate the interseismic and coseismic deformation pattern along the Indo-Burma fold belt. 

The study proposes the detailed methodologies and research designs using paleoseismic approach and geodynamic modeling approach. The paleoseismic approach includes field study, identifying marine terraces and other geomorphic features, identifying paleoseismic features, collecting the coral samples and dating them using U/Th dating scheme. The geodynamic modeling approach includes the collecting and processing the GPS data, analyzing them using different elastic modeling methods.

The paleoseismic study will provided a comprehensive understanding of the length and nature of the 1762 rupture that was reported along the west coast Myanmar by Aung et al.,(2008) and Wang et al.,(2013). The U/Th ages of the Porites coral will provide a better understanding of coseismic deformation of the 1762 and prior earthquakes. The analysis of the growth anomalies of coral heads will provide the recurrence interval of the earthquakes, and the rate of the interseismic uplift/subsidence. The geodynamic modeling of GPS data will provide the pattern of interseismic tectonic deformation pattern, and the magnitude of the next possible subduction zone earthquake. The modeling result will be able to resolve the ongoing debate (Gahalaut et al., 2013) about the activity of the subduction zone where it is colliding with 20km thick sedimentary sequence. This research project will attempt the fill the knowledge gap of the northerner segment of the Indo-Burma subduction zone, which had not been studied before for geodynamic and paleoseismic research. This research project has tremendous societal importance in order to assess the seismic hazard of three big cities adjacent to the subduction zone.

Lilja Nielsen    
Research Interests: Water treatment/purification; removal of pharmaceutical pollutants; adsorption

Advisor: Teresa J. Bandosz
Dissertation Research: Exploring sewage sludge/fish waste materials as adsorbents of pharmaceuticals from water phase

Gerald T. Rustic
BS Biology/Geology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY; MS Environmental Science, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ; MPhil, Earth and Environmental Sciences, CUNY Graduate Center, NY NY

Research Interests: Paleoclimate; Paleoceanography; ENSO and ENSO variability; Stable isotope analysis; Marine micropaleontology; Climate and climate change

Advisor: Athanasios Koutavas
Dissertation Research: “Late Holocene Variability of the Eastern Tropical Pacific"

I study the climate of the common era (0CE-present) using geochemical proxies from foraminifera. My research has focused on the highly dynamic Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean, a key center-of-action for the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). I analyze oxygen isotopes in individual foraminifera to reconstruct sea surface variability, and apply statistical tests to determine changes through time.

I came to the GC from a background in web programming and after doing my Master's work at Rutgers and the College of Staten Island. I've also been a musician and had dreams of being a rock star (and actually got pretty close). I have a dog (Leo) and a cat (Orlando) and have lived in Brooklyn (with short, unsuccessful forays into Manhattan and Queens) for most of the last 15+ years.

John Zayac
B.S. University of California, Santa Cruz - Earth Science and M.S. University of California, Santa Barbara - Geological Sciences

Research Interests: Volcanology; Igneous Systems; Magma Dynamics; Mineral and Fluid Inclusions; Eruption Triggers

Advisor: Marc-Antoine Longpré

John Zayac uses a combination of field, laboratory, and fluid dynamic methods to investigate volcanic systems. He joined the research group of Professor Marc-Antoine Longpré at Queens College in 2015, where he is working on using geochemical methods and melt and fluid inclusions to investigate the dynamics of compositionally zoned eruptions. Prior to joining the CUNY system, John conducted research in high-pressure mineral physics at UC Santa Cruz and magma transport properties at UC Santa Barbara. Prior to relocating to New York City, John served as an Associate Professor of Geology at Los Angles Pierce College, where his focus was on developing field and lab-based research experiences for community college students interested in transferring to university in STEM fields.



Hector Agredano
BA, University of California, Santa Cruz (Honors); MPhil, The Graduate Center, CUNY, New York; Advanced Certificate in GISc, Lehman College, New York

Research Interests: Mexico; Latin America; marxism; revolutions; Historical GIS; Transportation

Advisor: James Biles
Dissertation Research: “Rails to Revolution: Railroads, Railroad Workers and the Geographies of the Mexican Revolution"

Hector Agredano received his BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz in Sociology (Honors) in 2008 and received an MPhil from the Graduate Center, CUNY and an Advanced Certificate in GISc from Lehman College in 2015.

He is currently doing archival research in Mexico where he is collecting data for his dissertation that explores the role of railroads and railroad workers in the Mexican Revolution from 1910-1914. Through this research he explores the relationships between social movements and transportation infrastructures.


  • Mexico City Metro in Selima Sultana and Joe Weber, eds. Minicars, Maglevs, and Mopeds: Modern Modes of Transportation Around the World. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Press. 2016.

Fellowships & Awards

  • The Neil Smith Travel and Research Award

  • National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research: Railroads, 

  • Railroad Workers, and Geographies of Social Change (#1459108)

  • Advanced Research Collaborative Knickerbocker Award for Archival Research in American Studies

  • Conference of Latinamericanist Geographers Field Study Award. 

  • Doctoral Student Research Grant

  • Conference Presentation Support

  • Dean K. Harrison Fellowship

Ekaterina Bezborodko
MA, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

Research Interests: Education provision; geography education; neoliberal restructuring; informal and alternative economies; institutional economics. 

Katya received an MA in geography from Rutgers University, where she studied economies of blood banks and worked for the Rutgers Climate Institute as an administrator and research assistant. She teaches introductory and economic geography at Hunter College and has worked with Marianna Pavlovskaya on mapping the solidarity economy. Her interests include changing educational provision following neoliberal restructuring and the attendant changes in subjectivity, as well as geography education at both secondary and post-secondary levels.

Morgan L.C. Buck
BA, Concordia University, Montreal

Research Interests: Racism and racial capitalism; landscape; domesticity; public housing and the welfare state; South Africa

Advisor: Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Dissertation Research: “Domestic Landscapes: Public Housing and the Politics of Home in Johannesburg, 1930–1994”

My doctoral research investigates the gendered history of public housing in Johannesburg between 1930 and 1994. Drawing mainly on Black feminist and postcolonial theory, I attend specifically to how material and discursive struggles around family housing contributed to unsettling and re-articulating racialized constructions of women, family, and urban space. This research speaks to a broader academic and political interest in repositioning gender alongside race as central the production of cultural landscapes, and in foregrounding women’s histories and political subjectivities in the study of state formation. My current research interests, combined with my background in political economy and rural sociology, inform my teaching practice in the Urban Studies and Urban Affairs and Planning departments at Queens College and Hunter College.


  • 2015, “What is Radical Materialism?” Social Text Online (March 2015).  

  • 2013, Encyclopedia Entry “Smith, Neil” in Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology, R. Jon McGee, Richard L. Warms, eds. (with Malav Kanuga, Zoltan Gluck, Steven McFarland).

  • 2013, “Policing the New Enclosures: On Violence, Primitive Accumulation, and Crisis in the Neoliberal Food Regime” in The Neoliberal Regime in the Agri-Food Sector: Crisis, Resilience and Restructuring, S. Wolf and A. Bonanno, eds.  

Fellowships & Awards

  • SSRC International Dissertation Research Fellowship, 2016–17

  • ARC Award for Archival Research in African American and African Diaspora Studies, 2016

  • Dissertation Research Travel Award, GC CUNY, Summer 2016

  • ARC Award for Archival Research in African American and African Diaspora Studies, 2015

  • Pre-Dissertation Travel Award, GC CUNY, Summer 2014

  • SSRC Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship, 2013

Erin Friedman
MA, Hunter College, New York

Research Interests: Human-environment; landuse; GIS; remote sensing; climate change; adaptation; resilience; coastal hazards; Caribbean; decision-making; Anthropocene

Erin Friedman received her MA in Geography from CUNY Hunter College focusing on the impacts of sea-level rise on Antigua's coastal economy and infrastructure. After completing her Master's , Erin provided cartographic and spatial analysis for the Nelson’s Dockyard UNESCO World Heritage Site Application in Antigua. Erin is currently a research assistant at the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities (CISC) where she works with the Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast (CCRUN) group. Erin is interested in the spatio-temporal dynamics of urban and rural coastal landuse practices, and the data needs of stakeholders in these areas for climate mitigation. Currently, her research involves working with stakeholders in Caribbean small island states to understand their climate change adaptation strategies and needs for mitigation. 

Affiliations: CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities

Allison Guess
BA, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA            

Research Interests: Land; migration; Black geographies; place; Black pessimistic-optimism; Black futurity; anti-blackness; racial capitalism; collective Black liberation 

Advisor: Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Dissertation Research: Black land, Black relationships to land and place as it relates to (voluntary reverse) migration

Allison is origionally from Pittsburgh, PA. She earned a double major in Political Science and Hispanic Languages and Literature. Additionally, Allison is a consultant for an organization called The Black/Land Project in which she supports the "transcending historical trauma program" by contributing to practical applications of self-determination as it relates to community-based research and theoretical outputs. At the Graduate Center at CUNY, Allison is working under the direction of Dr. Ruth Wilson Gilmore. Allison is looking at Black peoples' relationships to land and place in connection to voluntary reverse migration and the capitalist structure. 


  • Guess, A. "(Un)bordered Emancipation of the Activist/Academic divide: A Different Type of Discipline." Critical Ethnic Studies Association Blog (2015)

  • Tuck, Guess and Sultan. “Not Nowhere: Collaborating on Selfsame Land.” Decolonization Indigeneity, Education & Society (2014). 

  • Tuck, Smith, Guess, Benjamin, and Jones. “Geotheorizing Black/Land: Contestations and Contingent Collaborations.” The inaugural issue of the new trajectory of Departures in Critical Qualitative Research, Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring 2014, pp. 5274.)

Fellowships & Awards: Research Fellow at The Futures Initiative, Graduate Center at CUNY

Affiliations: The Futures Initiative, The Black/Land Project

Hunter Jackson
BA, University of California, Berkeley

Research Interests: Race; borders and migration; the state; the US South; police and prisons.

Advisor: Rupal Oza and Monica Varsanyi
Dissertation Research: “In Certain Respects, the Future Looks Bright: Migration, Criminalization, and Race-Making in 21st Century Alabama”

I grew up in the South without knowing much about the places I came from. Currently I'm exploring ways the region's long histories of racialized terror and violence are influencing current struggles and conflicts around race, labor, and mobility in Alabama.

Kyeongsu Kim
MCRP, Rutgers University, New Jersey

Research Interests: Transport accessibility; travel behavior; spatial mismatch; environmental justice; residence choice; sustainable transport infrastructure investment

Advisor: Tom Angotti
Dissertation Research: Multi-layored impacts of light rail transit

I specialize in transport and economic geography. My main research interest is to investigate sustainable low-cost transportation investments, which will not only mitigate spatial mismatch but secure transportation affordability. 

Catherine King
BS in Geophysics, University of California, Santa Barbara; MS in Geology, University of Montana

Research Interests: Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management; space of interaction between science and management; socio-ecological networks, global production networks, actor-networks

Advisor: James Biles
Dissertation Research: “Understanding Environmental Governance and the Emergence of Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management in the New England Groundfish Fishery”

My dissertation project analyzes the governance of the New England groundfish fishery through the emergence of Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management (EBFM), focusing on how science and management function together in a network of ecological, social, and economic relationships. Scientific uncertainty, rapidly changing environmental conditions, and variable market dynamics require participatory and adaptive management strategies that reconcile disciplinary and epistemological divisions. By closely examining practices of conceptualization, classification, and categorization, I hope to provide insights on contradictions that hinder understanding in areas where economic, social, and conservation agendas interact. My research integrates methods from political ecology and political economy to investigate the interrelated processes of a natural resource network. 

Caroline Loomis
BA, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie NY

Research Interests: Critical childhood studies; educational geographies; race, racism and racial capitalism; resistance; gentrification; partition; social reproduction; agriculture and food justice

Advisor: Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Dissertation Research: Childhood, schooling, race and gentrification in NYC

Caroline came to doctoral study from over a decade in the fields of food justice and youth development, leading and designing educational programs in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City. Her curiosity and commitments to the intersections of social justice, space/place and education led her to the Grad Center, where her research centers on childhood, schooling, race and gentrification in New York City.

Caroline also works as a freelance facilitator/trainer, and serves as an Instructional Technology Fellow with CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College, where she supports faculty to develop creative pedagogical practices and meaningfully integrate digital technology into their courses. She loves being in gardens, classrooms, oceans, parks, and collaborative spaces.

Affiliations: American Studies Certificate Program

Amanda Matles
BFA, Maryland Institute College of Art

Research Interests: Politics of social reproduction; racial capitalism; youth; policing; gentrification; cities; globalization; economic restructuring; critical participatory action research; participatory video

Advisor: Cindi Katz
Dissertation Research: “Growing Up Policed: Young People’s Strategic Negotiations of Spatial Violence in New York City”

Amanda is geographer, artist, activist, and filmmaker. She uses participatory video methods to develop research about the everyday intersections of economic restructuring, law and social control in the lives of young people, and to document and analyze the complex making of human geographies. Amanda earned a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD in 2004 and was a 2010 fellow of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, New York, NY. Amanda's most recent participatory video research project, Being Policed, was conducted with youth researchers from Make the Road New York in Bushwick, Brooklyn from 2013-2015. Together they produced a "call to action" video visualizing statistical data on the policing of youth, gathered as part of the project alongside interviews with youth leaders. The team also conducted numerous video interviews with young people about their everyday, embodied experiences of and visions for changes to Stop and Frisk policing and harsh Zero Tolerance policies. The project is archived online and has been used in classrooms, "know your rights trainings," and exhibitions. Amanda is committed to making compelling research contributions to public discourses through engagement with social movements for economic and social justice in her writing, teaching, and visual research.

Affiliations: Public Science Project


Laurel Mei-Singh
BA, UCLA, Los Angeles; MPH, Columbia University, New York City

Research Interests: Racial capitalism; Indigeneity and colonialism; Hawai'i; the Pacific; militarization and war; environmental justice; radical pedagogy; social movements

Advisor: Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Dissertation Research: “Geographies of Desecration: Race, Indigeneity, and the Militarization of Hawai'i"

Laurel Mei-Singh is a doctoral candidate in Geography earning a certificate in American Studies at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. She earned a Masters in Public Health at Columbia University and Bachelors of Arts in English at UCLA. Her current research examines how indigenous cosmologies shape the anticolonial efforts and environmental justice discourses and practices that confront militarization in Wai‘anae, a heavily militarized region of Hawai'i. She has taught ethnic studies, urban studies, and environmental studies at the University of Hawai’i and at CUNY. Her writings include a coauthored piece on the impact of military presence in Hawai'i on the health of Native Hawaiians, published in Pacific Health Dialog. She has worked with community organizations in New York City and Hawai'i, including CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities and Hawai'i Peace and Justice. She was born near the base of Leahi (Diamond Head) and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.


  • 2015. (Undergoing Peer Review) Mei-Singh, L., Carceral Conservationism: Contested Landscapes and Technologies of Dispossession at Ka‘ena Point, Hawai‘i. American Quarterly 68(3). Special Issue: Tours of Duty and Tours of Leisure.

  • 2007. Niheu, K., Turbin, L.M. (now Mei-Singh, L.), & Yamada, S. The impact of the military presence in Hawai‘i on the health of Native Hawaiians. Pacific Health Dialog, 14, 199-206.

  • 2015. Mei-Singh, L., A Year After the Ferguson Uprising, Reflections on Mauna Kea. August 14,         2015. Critical Ethnic Studies Journal Blog.

  • 2015. Turbin, L.M. (now Mei-Singh, L.), Wright, A., Kajihiro, K. Smaller Army here a chance to blossom anew. January 25, 2015. Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Editorial Guest Column.

Fellowships & Awards

  • 2015 - Cornell Social Sciences Summer Institute Fellow, Contested Global Landscapes

  • 2015 - Dean K. Harrison Award

  • 2014-2015 - Center for Place, Culture and Politics Fellowship, CUNY Graduate Center

  • 2014-2015- Dissertation Year Fellowship, CUNY Graduate Center

  • 2013, 2015 - Applied Research Center Knickerbocker Award for Archival Research in American Studies, CUNY Graduate Center

  • 2013 - Provost’s Digital Incubator Grant, CUNY Graduate Center

  • 2012, 2014- Doctoral Student Research Grant, CUNY Graduate Center

  • 2009-2011 - Enhanced Chancellor’s Fellow, CUNY Graduate Center

Keith Miyake
BS, Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA; MA, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Research Interests: Critical race and ethnic studies; environmental justice; urban planning; environmental policy

Advisor: Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Dissertation Research: “Institutionalizing Environmental Justice: A Geographical History of the National Environmental Policy Act"

Keith Miyake is a doctoral candidate and Digital Fellow at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY). His work as a public scholar engages the contradictions of environmental governance in relation to antiracist struggles for social and environmental justice. His dissertation examines race and environment as mutually constitutive systems of knowledge and spatialized governance within the modern state, focusing on the U.S. since the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. Keith has taught geography and Asian American Studies courses at Lehman College and Hunter College, CUNY.


  • “Not just a walk in the park: Methodological improvements for determining environmental justice implications of park access in New York City for the promotion of physical activity.” 2010.

  • Miyake, Keith K., A.R. Maroko, K.L. Grady, J.A. Maantay, and P.S. Arno. Cities and the Environment. 3(1):article 8. 17 pp.


  • GC Digital Fellowship

  • The Center for Place, Culture and Politics Dissertation Completion Fellowship

  • The Advanced Research Collaborative Knickerbocker Award

  • Advanced Research Collaborative Summer Research Grant

  • Seminar in Experimental Critical Theory (SECT VIII)

Affiliations: The Center for Place, Culture and Politics; GC Digital Initiatives

Rafael A. Mutis
BA, University of Dallas; MA, University of Arizona, Tucson; MPH, University of Arizona, Tucson

Research Interests: The social construction of race, racism, gender and homophobia; women of color feminisms; undoing the gender binary; LGBTQ people of color analysis; ethnobotanies; war; trauma and healing; alternatives to development; ecological/onto-epistemologies; space, place & race; globalization; the production of nature; pre and post colonial analysis and cosmologies; autocthonous lives; people of color anarchisms, and communisms; the Global South.  

Advisor: Ruthie Wilson Gilmore
Dissertation Research: Indigenous Issues - Aboriginal and Afro Ethnobotanies in the midst of violent neoliberalismo in Cauca, Colombia 

Rafael A.Mutis Garcia is a fourth year Geography student at the CUNY Graduate Center.  After having studied herbalism, race, gender, sexuality, class issues in community organizing work and in the academy, Rafael is currently studying ethnobotany issues in Afro and other Indigenous communities in Colombia who are still under threat of displacement under neoliberalism and in the midst of peace negotiations.  Using a decolonial analysis and lens, Rafael is looking to understand how these ecological onto-epistemologies can provide a way out of disastrous development and increasingly destructive climate change toward sustainability.  .  

Affiliations: The Center for Place, Culture and Politics


Maggie Ornstein

MA, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York; MPH, Hunter College, New York

Research Interests: Family caregiving, Traumatic Brain Injury, qualitative methods, Ethic of Care

Dissertation Research: Re-constructing Caregiving
Advisor: Ken Gould

Maggie Ornstein has cared for multiple family members over the course of the last twenty years, with significant and consuming care work beginning at the age of seventeen. During this time providing care to her family, she has received graduate degrees in psychology, public health and human geography, while working for a non-profit organization with people with brain injuries and their families. She is currently a doctoral candidate at the Graduate Center, City University of New York and teaches at The New School and Sarah Lawrence College.  Maggie’s research focuses on the interactions between family caregivers and the larger long-term care and medical systems. Specifically, she critiques the dominant discourse around ‘caregiver burden’ for being reductionist by not including family members’ interactions with service providers and therefore suggests that service provision, while at times useful, also carries with it an additional burden that further complicates the lives of caregivers.

Mert Peksen
MA, International Migration and Social Cohesion (MISOCO), University of Amsterdam

Research Interests: International migration; borders; border control regimes; forced migration; refugees; transit migration; territory and sovereignty; Middle East; Turkey; Turkish-Greek border.

Advisor: Dr. Monica Varsanyi

I completed my BA and MA in Political Science and International Relations in 2010 at the Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul. In 2012 I graduated from the European Joint Master’s Program in International Migration and Social Cohesion (MISOCO) with a joint MA degree from the University of Amsterdam, University of Osnabruck, Germany, and University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain. Before starting my doctoral studies in the EES Program, I held a junior researcher and lecturer position in the Department of Geography at the University of Osnabruck, Germany. My previous research focused on internal and international displacement and categorization of migration. I am currently interested in the transformation of the European border regime, Turkish-Greek border, transit migration and urban refugees in Turkey.

Lydia Pelot-Hobbs
BA, Oberlin College/ MS Urban Studies University of New Orleans

Research Interests: Critical prison studies; the US South; racial capitalism; state-making; social movements; Black radicalism; queer politics; urban studies; oral history; feminist methodologies 

Advisor: Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Dissertation Research: The Contested Consolidation of the Louisiana Carceral State (Working Title)

Lydia Pelot-Hobbs is a doctoral candidate in Geography and pursuing a certificate in American Studies at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her dissertation tracks the dialectical relationship between the formation and contestation of the Louisiana carceral state from the 1970s to the present. A guiding impulse of her work is to produce research that is grounded in and relevant to grassroots organizing for collective liberation. Her writing has been published in a broad range of academic and activist venues including Monthly Review Online, Left Turn Magazine, The Abolitionist, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, and in the anthology Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas (University of California Press).  

Marlene Nava Ramos
B.S., Cornell University, New York; M.P.H., Columbia University, New York

Research Interests: Immigration enforcement, surplus labor, environmental  justice, participatory action research  

Advisor: Ruthie Wilson Gilmore
Dissertation Research: United States political economy of immigration enforcement

Marlene Nava Ramos is a doctoral student in Geography at the CUNY Graduate Center where she studies the U.S. political economy of immigration enforcement, with a focus on the New York metropolitan region. Ramos currently teaches in the Department of Earth, Environmental, and Geospatial Sciences at Lehman College.

Affiliations: Women of Color Collective

Nathaniel Sheets
B.A. Geography, University of California, Berkeley

Research Interests: Geography of police power; urban theory,  politics, and development; racism and reform; culture and politics of policing and the policed; social power and self-defense

Advisor: Cindi Katz
Dissertation Research: Progressive Orders: Twenty-First Century Expansion, Inequality, and Reform Of Police Power in Seattle

Nathaniel is from Seattle, Washington, by way of California, where he obtained a B.A. in Geography from UC Berkeley in 2008. He subsequently worked in Los Angeles as a union organizer, while training and competing as an amateur athlete in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiujitsu, and Mixed Martial Arts. He entered the Ph.D. Program in Earth and Environmental Sciences at The Graduate Center (CUNY) in 2012. His dissertation project  charts the contested landscape and reform of police power in Seattle, Washington at a moment of unprecedented expansion fortified by the city’s progressive politics and culture.

Elizabeth A. Sibilia
MA, Hunter College, New York; MFA Rhode Island School of Design, Providence; BFA, New School for Social Research, New York

Research Interests: Shipbreaking; International law (maritime, trade, environment and labor); Development theory; Bangladesh Studies; Geographies of waste; Waste-value dialectic; Production of space; Ocean-space as infrastructure space; uneven development

Advisor: Cindi Katz
Dissertation Research: “Space, Labor, and Law: The global production of a landscape for shipbreaking in Chittagong, Bangladesh and the problem of ‘waste’”

Elizabeth Sibilia is a doctoral candidate specializing in geography in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department at the Graduate Center. Her dissertation examines the historical-geographic, political-economic, and social factors that helped to produce and perpetuate the global landscape of shipbreaking in Chittagong, Bangladesh. This geographic research investigates the dialectical relationship between the transnational and domestic demolition markets, labor and steel economies in the places where shipbreaking has occurred the past four decades. In placing emphasis on the production of spaces for such markets, her dissertation research reveals a spatiality specific to shipbreaking, where global circulations of capital become dependent on outlets for depreciated commodities. Bangladesh plays an uneven yet critical role. She employs archival data, photographic documentation, interviews, policy papers and reports, legal documents and scholarly research as methods and sources to tell this “toxic history of the present.” She is also working on a visual component as part of her dissertation, that will strategically employ her photographic documentation as punctuations, revealing a secondary story inspired by her research trips and the necessity to visualize that which is difficult to see. An image from this series was on view as part of the Landscape Photographic Exhibit at the Association of American Geographers Annual meeting in Chicago in 2015.


  • "Zones of Risk: the Spaces and Places of Shipbreaking." FOCUS on Geography, Vol. 58 (4) Winter 2015.

  • “On the Beach in Bangladesh” in Rare Earth Catalog: Reckoning with the Anthropocene, edited by Elizabeth Knafo and Jesse

  • Goldstein. New York: 2014.

  • 2012, Participatory mapping installation Co-Organizer, "Welcome to the New York City Waterfront: a peripheral space?" at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Parsons The New School for Design, New York, NY

  • 2012, Field trip Co-Organizer, "Waterways-Commodity Ways" (Historical-geographic boat tour of the New York City waterfront), Association of American Geographers Annual Conference, New York, NY

Fellowships & Awards

  • 2015 Graduate Center Dissertation Year Fellowship, Graduate Center, CUNY, New York, NY

  • 2015 ARC Knickerbocker Award for Archival Research in American Studies, Graduate Center, CUNY, New York, NY

  • 2014 Human Geography Small Grant, Institute for Human Geography, Worcester, MA

  • 2014-2015 American Institute of Bangladesh Studies Pre-Dissertation Fellowship, Madison, Wisconsin

  • 2014 Adjunct/ CET Professional Development Grant Professional Staff Congress, CUNY Union

  • 2010 Graduate Student Paper Award, Middle States Division AAG

  • 2006 Award of Excellence, Graduate School Division, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI

Affiliations: American Institute of Bangladesh Studies, Madison, Wisconsin

Samuel Stein
BA, Sarah Lawrence College, Yonkers, NY; MUP, Hunter College, New York, NY

Research Interests: Urbanization; planning; gentrification; uneven development; labor; race; New York City

Advisor: Cindi Katz
Dissertation Research: Labor, Land Use and the Luxury City

Samuel Stein is a human geographer who focuses on urbanization and the politics of planning. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005, he worked as a researcher and organizer on union drives, tenant mobilizations and political campaigns, and he pursued a master’s degree in Urban Planning from Hunter College (CUNY). He is now a PhD student in Geography at the CUNY Graduate Center, an editor of Progressive Planning Magazine and a professor of geography and urban studies at several New York-area colleges. Stein’s specific research interests include housing policy struggles, gentrification in Manhattan's Chinatown, transportation politics and the complex roles of labor organizations in urban planning processes. He is the author of several articles in academic and popular publications such as Metropolitics, Jacobin, Urban Omnibus, Zeek, and Progressive Planning, and has collaborated on major projects with Hunter College Urban Affairs and Planning faculty members Peter Kwong and Tom Angotti.


  • "Latin Americas, North and South: a Special Issue of Progressive Planning Magazine", number 204, Summer 2015, edited by Samuel Stein and Clara Irazábal, and featuring an introduction by Samuel Stein and Clara Irazábal entitled "The Politics of Planning in Latin America and the Latino US."

  • "Precarity and Gentrification: A Feedback Loop." Metropolitics, April 14, 2015.

  • “Preserve and Protect Chinatown,” co-authored with Peter Kwong. Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, February 3, 2015.

  • “De Blasio’s Doomed Housing Plan.” Jacobin, Fall 2014.

  • “Lessons from 20th Century Socialism: The USSR and China,” co-authored with Tom Angotti, in The New Century of the Metropolis: Urban Development and Orientalism, by Tom Angotti, Routledge, 2013.

Fellowships & Awards

  • CUNY Graduate Center Fellowship, Fall 2015 – Spring 2020

  • Center for New York City Neighborhoods' Policy and Communications Fellowship, Summer 2014

  • Hunter College's Certificate for Academic Excellence, January 2012

  • Streetsblog's “Streetsie Award” for Best Report, December 2011.

  • The Fund for New York City's Community Planning Fellowship, September 2010.

  • Hunter College's Urban Planning Research Fellowship, September 2009.

  • Sarah Lawrence College's Meredith Fonda Russell Fellowship for International Fieldwork, August 2005.

  • Everett Scholarship for Public Service, May 2005.

  • Sarah Lawrence College's Amy Cohen Scholarship for Community Partnerships and Service Learning, September 2003.

Angie Winner
MA Hydrology, Albert-Ludwig University, Freiburg, Germany

Research Interests: Social activism; right to food; health geography; scale; urban agriculture; environmental justice

Advisor: Juliana Maantay
Dissertation Research: “Food activism and urban agriculture in postindustrial cities”

I grew up in a small town in Southern Germany. My background is in natural sciences, but I realized that I did not want to exclude people from my research. I am interested in sustainable agriculture and alternative food movements, international political economy of food and agriculture, politics of obesity, environmental health, political ecology, race and food, critical nutrition, and critical human geography.

Affiliations: Urban GIS Lab (Lehman College)

Celeste Winston
BA, Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH)

Research Interests: Black geographies; migration; social justice; urban geography; critical GIS

Advisor: Ruth Wilson Gilmore

I am interested in the ways in which people of the African diaspora are racialized and criminalized in the United States, as well as how those processes of racialization and criminalization are part of a larger project of racial capitalism.