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Urban Studies and Planning welcomes four new faculty for 2015-2016

From public health to environmental policy and planning, diverse new perspectives add to a top-ranked department.
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New faculty in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning: (clockwise from top left) Mariana Arcaya, David Hsu, Janelle Knox-Hayes, and Justin Steil.
New faculty in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning: (clockwise from top left) Mariana Arcaya, David Hsu, Janelle Knox-Hayes, and Justin Steil.

This fall, the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) welcomes four new faculty to its ranks. Combining the tools of urban planning and design with expertise in complementary disciplines, the group adds considerable strength to the department in areas such as public health and healthcare, environmental policy and planning, energy and other infrastructure systems, and the intersection of property, land use, and civil rights law.

“We are fortunate to have attracted these extraordinary researchers and teachers,” says Eran Ben-Joseph, professor and department head of DUSP. “We look forward to many years of success and productive collaboration with them.”

The four new professors are:

Mariana Arcaya, assistant professor
Mariana Arcaya MCP ’08 is a social epidemiologist and urban planner whose work explores dynamic relationships between geographic contexts, particularly neighborhoods and health. Arcaya conducts scholarly and policy-relevant research in two main areas: the bi-directional relationships between place and health, including how health considerations shape socioeconomic outcomes for individuals and communities; and the applied and translational research on the social determinants of health, particularly health risk factors shaped by urban policy and planning decisions.

Prior to coming to MIT, Arcaya served as a postdoc at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. She holds a doctorate from the Harvard School of Public Health and a Master of City Planning from MIT DUSP. Her professional work experience includes instituting and managing a public health division within Metropolitan Boston’s regional planning agency, as well as designing and overseeing the implementation of healthy urban planning strategies under a federally funded Community Transformation Grant.

David Hsu, assistant professor
David Hsu focuses on urban environmental policy and planning, including energy and water networks, information policies to encourage efficiency, and data analysis. Current projects include studies of how information affects energy efficiency in commercial buildings, policies and tools for green infrastructure planning, and smart infrastructure.

Hsu taught previously at the University of Pennsylvania and New York University; was a Fulbright NEXUS scholar to Brazil in 2013; and has worked in the fields of engineering, real estate finance, and environmental planning, and as a policy analyst for the Cities of New York and Seattle. He holds degrees from Yale and Cornell in applied physics, from the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Washington in Seattle in urban design and planning, and a certificate in statistics and social science from the University of Washington in Seattle.

Janelle Knox-Hayes, associate professor
Janelle Knox-Hayes is the Lister Brothers Associate Professor of Economic Geography and Planning. She focuses on the ways in which social and environmental systems are governed under changing temporal and spatial scales as a consequence of globalization. Knox-Hayes has studied the political and economic interface of financial markets and environmental systems and how individuals and organizations plan and make decisions under conditions of socio-economic uncertainty.

Knox-Hayes holds a visiting research fellowship at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University. Prior to joining DUSP, Knox-Hayes was an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech. She holds degrees in international affairs, ecology, and Japanese language and civilizations from the University of Colorado at Boulder and in environmental policy and economic geography from Oxford. Knox-Hayes has also worked as an energy analyst for the United States Government Accountability Office and in the private sector.

Justin Steil, assistant professor
Justin Steil is a lawyer and urban planner whose scholarship examines the intersection of urban policy with property, land use, and civil rights law. Broadly interested in social stratification and spatial dimensions of inequality, he conducts research primarily regarding municipal responses to immigration; fair housing, community development, and neighborhood change; and planning law. Recent scholarship has explored the relationship between space, power, and inequality in the contexts of immigration federalism, residential segregation, lending discrimination, environmental justice, and mass incarceration.

Prior to DUSP, Steil worked for NYU Law School’s Furman Center for Urban Policy and clerked on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the District Court for the Southern District of New York. He graduated from Harvard Univeristy in African-American studies, the London School of Economics in city design, Columbia University in urban planning, and Columbia Law School. Steil has also worked as a community organizer, prison educator, and community-based planner. 

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