PhD Bios

Doctoral Students in Metropolitan Planning, Policy, and Design (including students entering in Fall 2012)

Grace Bjarnson is finishing her third year in the Metropolitan Planning, Policy and Design Ph.D. program. She brings to the department a diversity of work and life experiences. Grace was born in Indiana, but has spent a majority of her life in a variety of places in Utah. She grew up on a very small family farm and raised goats, chickens, ducks, and turkeys. At age five she started singing professionally with fellow family members. By high school she was involved in debate, yearbook, drama, and technical crew. She won several awards in debate and drama in high school. In 1996 she graduated magna cum laude with an associate of science in general education from Utah Valley State College. In 2000 she graduated with honors with a bachelor of science in theatre and voice from Southern Utah University. During this time Grace held a variety of jobs including directing a children’s performing arts group, directing and designing sets for several theatrical productions, and teaching adult Koreans English over the phone. After more than an eight year break from school she came back to study urban planning. And in 2009 she received a master degree in city and metropolitan planning from the University of Utah with an emphasis in sustainability. In 2009 Grace assisted Envision Utah in organizing the Jordan River Interim Planning Committee process. This process which pushed forward the implementation of Blueprint Jordan River included the representation of Salt Lake, Davis, and Utah counties, and 15 cities located next to the Jordan River. Grace also received the 2008-2009 student innovation award while studying her master degree at the University of Utah. Her primary focus in the doctoral program is the integration of values research in the planning field. Grace has four children ranging from age five to fifteen. She remarried in March 2010.

Ryan Champlin, an urban fanatic and freelance writer, feels fortunate to be joining the faculty and students in the Department of Metropolitan Planning, Policy, and Design as a first-year Ph.D. student. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Northern Arizona University, Ryan became interested in how people and their physical and social environments mutually shape and reshape one another, which led to enrolling in the master’s degree program at University of Utah’s Department of Family and Consumer Studies. Ryan studied both Community-Based Social Marketing and people’s preferences for urban and suburban environments under Dr. Barbara Brown, a leading expert in the field of environmental psychology. While completing that degree, Ryan interned with Envision Utah, contributing painstakingly to the survey analysis, GIS work, and report writing for the Blueprint Jordan River and Envision Morgan projects. After graduating, Ryan took a job planning social and economic revitalization programs in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, a region that was born, enriched, and subsequently strangled by its own preeminent steel industry. One day, after picking up Jane Jacobs’ Life and Death from a city library, Ryan had an epiphany: Jacobs’ warning of the perils of over-specialization and over-success – two conditions that are venerated in traditional economic thought – was showing itself to be devastatingly true, not only in the small cities of the Lehigh Valley, but also in the big cities of the Rust Belt and the mining towns of the rural Southeast. It is not exactly clear how much has changed in this regard. There is obviously something not quite right about many of our accepted economic development strategies, and this realization has driven Ryan to find out how cities and economies really work. Other than economic development, Ryan’s interests span many different spheres, including psychology, physics, ecology, policy and politics, philosophy, religion, architecture, history, nutrition, ancient Anglo-Saxon and Nordic culture and language, music, sports, and Italian wine and cuisine (the real way to this man’s heart).

Roger Child is a second year Doctoral Candidate in the University of Utah department of City and Metropolitan Planning. Roger has worked in the real estate industry for 30 years. He has worked for architectural firms and real estate developers. For the last 15 years he has been employed with Property Reserve Inc. where he manages a portfolio of land assets that are transitioning from agricultural uses to other residential and commercial uses. His responsibilities are to oversee this transition. Managing this transition requires activities in planning, interfacing with municipalities, economic analysis, acquisition of properties, as well as disposition of properties. These responsibilities have taught him the value of quality research and planning. With degrees in Finance, Economics, and Masters of Business Administration, he felt that he needed to balance out his education with an advanced degree in Planning. In addition to his current degrees, Roger has been licensed as a real estate broker, appraiser, and as a certified commercial investment member (CCIM).

Carl Duke is the Vice President of Portfolio Management at Suburban Land Reserve. He received degrees in International Relations and Russian from Brigham Young University and a JD/MBA from the University of Utah. Prior to joining Suburban Land Reserve, Carl enjoyed three years from 2002-2005 as an associate at Wikstrom Economic and Planning Consultants where he consulted and advised numerous public and private clients on a wide variety of real estate related issues. Since 2005 Carl has enjoyed managing 14 projects at Suburban Land Reserve and now helps with the strategic direction of the portfolio and it’s assets. His current projects include a proposed 4,800 acre master-planned community in Salt Lake City, Utah with issues ranging from brownsfield remediation to wetlands and habitat enhancement. Among his managerial responsibilities, Carl also enjoys overseeing Suburban Land Reserve’s holdings in Prasada a 3,355 acre master-planned community in the rapidly growing community of Surprise, Arizona. He loves the collaborative process of entitlement activities and the intricate multi-faceted world of real estate transactions. Carl is the proud father of four beautiful children including a set of twins. When not building communities he enjoys spending time with his family, cycling and working on any construction project he can get his hands on.

Shima Hamidi began the Ph.D. at the University of Utah in fall 2011. She earned her bachelor’s degree in architecture from Shiraz University, Iran, and held a position as research and teaching assistant at Iran University of Science and Technology for two years. During this time, she researched sustainable principles of traditional Persian architecture. The Accomplishment of this project led to new interests in urban design. Shima then moved to Malaysia to do her Master’s degree at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. In her final project she focused on urban design qualities of walking environment to optimize the walkability of routes based on the purpose of trips within the neighborhood. After completing her master, she worked as research associate for almost one year. Her current interests are land use and transportation planning, with an emphasis on walkability and new approaches like Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and Smart Growth, both concepts learnt during the study of her Master’s degree.

Amir Hajrasouliha was born and raised in Tehran, the largest city in Western Asia. Tehran has always been the source of his fascination with urban life and its relationship with urban form. After graduating with degrees in Architecture and Urbanism from Shahid Beheshti University and Tehran University, Amir pursued his professional life as an architect and planner working on urban redevelopment projects, mainly in the metropolitan area of Tehran. Since then, the multidisciplinary field of urban design has become the center of his interest, and still his main question is how urban designers can contribute most for making a good city. Graduating from the master of urban design program at the University of Michigan helped him to address urban design issues in different contexts that he used to work on. Also, he was a member of the University of Michigan team that won the 2011 ULI/ Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition. Joining the Metropolitan Planning, Policy and Design PhD program at the University of Utah has been a great opportunity for him to continue his investigation on the integration of urban form, social issues, aesthetical concerns, and environmental realities. Meanwhile, whenever he find an appropriate time, he would rather to go back and visit his source of inspiration, Tehran.

Holly Hilton has finished her third year in the Metropolitan Planning, Policy and Design PhD program. Holly earned an MPP with an emphasis in environmental policy, and a BS in Psychology from the University of Utah. Holly is currently working as a Policy Assistant in the Salt Lake City Mayor’s office where she has worked on such projects as the North Temple Viaduct reconstruct, TIGER Streetcar Funding requests, and research for various policy recommendations. She is interested in the impact of the built environment on sustainability and natural systems. She is co-teaching Introduction to Urban and Environmental Planning for the CMP department over the summer. Her dissertation will focus on the connection between land use – specifically sprawl versus density – and its impact on water consumption.

Keuntae Kim will become a first year PhD student at the department of City and Metropolitan Planning in Fall 2012. As his academic career, he held his undergraduate degree of architecture at Ajou University, finished his master’s degree in city planning from Seoul National University, and completed another Master degree of City and Regional Planning at Georgia Institute of Technology. While taking master’s courses, he participated in various research projects at Seoul National University such as transit-oriented development and housing management plans for company towns in Korea. In particular, while participating in Fort McPherson Redevelopment, Atlanta during the urban design studio at Georgia Tech, he developed his academic interest in participatory urban planning and neighborhood redevelopment and wrote his master thesis on the impact of form-based codes and conventional zoning on Fort McPherson Redevelopment, Atlanta. As his professional career, he worked as an assistant research fellow at Korea Research Institute for Human Settlement (KRIHS) for two and half years and participated in the Multifunctional Administrative City Comprehensive Plan before he went to study urban planning in US. After finishing his master’s degree in urban design in 2010, he is working as an assistant research fellow at Architecture and Urban Research Institute (AURI) in Korea and conducting a field research for development of evaluation model for pedestrian environment in Korea. During his doctoral study, he would like to study a planning support system for encouraging participation in the planning process and smart growth policy-making through a more evidence-based approach.

Katherine Kittrell transferred to the University of Utah from the PhD program at Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability in 2011. Her 2009 thesis for ASU’s Master’s of Urban and Environmental Planning, “Phoenix METRO Light Rail: Land Appreciation and Public Policy,” was partially funded by the national Lambda Alpha International Land Economics Foundation grant. In 1982, she graduated from ASU with a BS in Finance and began her 20-year career in financial modeling and decision support systems for the banking and healthcare marketing industries. Kathy is a past board member of La Plata, Colorado Family Centers Coalition, Durango Colorado Discovery Museum and a regional plumbing supply distributor. She currently owns and manages an 8-unit, affordable, NAHB green certified student housing community near the ASU campus. Her current interests are land use, transportation planning, hiking and skiing. She has two teenage children, Ben and Patty.

Gail Meakins is a research assistant finishing her third year in the Metropolitan Planning, Policy, and Design PhD program. Gail has a BA in physical education from California State University Sacramento, a MA in physical education from the University of California Berkeley, and a MUP from the University of Utah. Gail spent over 20 years in education as an athletic director, physical education and health teacher and gymnastics and swimming coach at the middle school, high school, and collegiate level including stints at the United States Air Force Academy and Cornell University. She has a certificate in historic preservation and expertise in GIS. Gail is interested in the connection between the built environment and public health specifically physical activity and obesity as well as issues dealing with land use in the West. She worked as a policy analyst for the Salt Lake City Council office, was a member of the Parks and Recreation Board in Park City, UT and was a participant in the first class of Leadership Park City 2000. Gail is an avid runner and enjoys hiking, biking, and swimming.

Matt Miller, MUP, is a freelance transportation planner. He holds bachelors and masters degrees in Urban Planning from the University of Utah. His masters project was on housing affordability in Salt Lake County. He has twice been a teaching assistant for the class ‘Theory and Ethics in Planning’. After interning at Envision Utah, he spent two years a full-time professional planner at Wilbur Smith Associates, he worked on: Aviation System Plans in Arizona and New Mexico; a long range plan for Missoula, Montana; the Utah Statewide Travel Model, and an Alternatives Analysis for a streetcar in Ogden. He is knowledgeable about growth management, demographics, transit, and transportation modeling and has experiential knowledge of dozens of different major cities including Portland, Phoenix, Paris, and New York City. Notable skills include GIS and Excel. He maintains a blog at outlooktower.blogspot.com, focusing on transit and transportation issues.

Bruce Parker, AICP is the principal of Planning and Development Services, LLC (PDS), a Salt Lake City planning consultancy firm. Bruce possesses experience in community planning, development review, and planning administration. As a supervisor and project manager Bruce has participated in a variety of planning activities, land use ordinances, mixed use projects, growth management and infrastructure financing, development agreements, renewable energy projects, and general plans for urban, suburban, rural, and resort communities. Bruce has developed collaborative planning agreements and has worked with the Utah legislature to make progressive amendments to Utah statutory law. He also provides expert witness and litigation support for public and private organizations. Bruce holds a Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (Honors)(University of New England, Australia) where he received the Consulting Planners Prize and the Bernard Cunningham Memorial Prize for Academic Achievement, and a Master of City and Metropolitan Planning (Utah), receiving the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award. Bruce has held Executive Committee positions with the Utah Chapter of the American Planning Association and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He presents on various planning issues at local, state, national, and international planning conferences. As a focus of his doctoral studies Bruce is interested in the achievement of healthy communities and the ability of planning to enhance individual and community well-being, particularly the role planning can play to enhance public education.

Susie Petheram will begin her third year as a doctoral student in the Metropolitan Planning, Policy, and Design program at the U this fall. She is studying the impacts of changing demographics on neighborhood resiliency in the context of vernacular urbanism. At the U she currently serves as a member of the President’s Sustainability Advisory Board. Susie began her career as a planner following over a decade in the medical research field. She has been with CRSA, a planning and architecture firm in Salt Lake City, Utah, since 2002 as a Senior Planner and Preservationist. She has contributed to several award-winning projects at CRSA and enjoys working with communities to implement context-sensitive planning standards that promote sustainable development patterns and the preservation of important cultural and historic resources. Her planning projects focus on the analysis, planning, and design of downtown districts, historic neighborhoods and transit-station areas. Susie graduated from Grinnell College in 1991 and has a master’s degree in planning and a graduate certificate in historic preservation from the University of Utah. Susie is active in community issues for the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City.

David Proffitt will be entering the doctoral program in Metropolitan Planning, Policy and Design in fall 2012. David is currently a Fulbright research fellow in India, where he is studying planning policies to mitigate the urban heat island in Pune, Maharashtra. Previously, he worked as a writer/editor & planner at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Phoenix. At the BLM, David was part of a team charged with producing a long-term, NEPA-compliant document guiding management priorities for a tract of federally owned land in the Sonoran Desert the size of Delaware. He holds a Master’s in Urban & Environmental Planning from Arizona State University, where he wrote a thesis examining the feasibility and potential impact of redeveloping the Phoenix metro area’s vast system of irrigation canals as public spaces that formed the focus of a non-motorized transportation network. Earlier in his career, David was a professional journalist. He spent more than 12 years covering business, crime, arts & culture — and of course architecture and planning — for newspapers and magazines. An avid skier, David would also like to put it out there he’s looking for tips on where to find the best deals on season passes.

Philip Stoker is a second year Ph.D. student in the department of City and Metropolitan Planning. Philip recently completed his Masters of Resource Management (Planning) at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. While there, Philip evaluated the sustainability of cruise ship tourism to the Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site of Canada. His research recommendations have contributed to Parks Canada’s management plan for the site. He is a student member of the Planners Institute of British Columbia, has held national scholarships from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Northern Scientific Training Program. His undergraduate work in Joshua Tree National Park described the relationship between campgrounds and coyote habitat use and was published in The Southwestern Naturalist. Currently, his research interests include: social-ecological resilience, jobs-housing balance, pedestrian safety, and water use along the Wasatch Front. Philip is very happy to be a part of the wonderful faculty and students in the Ph.D. program.

Robert A. Young will be joining the Ph.D. program in Metropolitan Planning, Policy, and Design this fall. He has authored two books, Historic Preservation Technology (Wily 2008) and Stewardship of the Built Environment: Sustainability, Preservation, and Reuse (Island Press 2012) that embody his research on revitalizing communities. Robert will be broadening his research on stewardship of the built environment by exploring sustainability planning strategies as they pertain to the preservation and reuse of existing buildings at the neighborhood and community scale. His specific focus will be on the investigation of best practices that enable the optimal retention of existing building stock while further refining the qualities that contribute to both the sense of place and enhancement of sustainability. He holds three previous graduate degrees: a master of science in historic preservation planning (Eastern Michigan University), a master of business administration (The University of Michigan), and a master of science in architectural engineering (The Pennsylvania State University). In addition to being a professional engineer and a LEED accredited professional, he has served on several boards of non-profit preservation and community design oriented organizations including ASSIST, the Utah Heritage Foundation, and the Traditional Building Skills Institute). His public service activities include two terms on the Salt Lake City Historic Landmarks Commission (including one year as Chair), a term on the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Authority Advisory Committee, and is a member of the Fisher Mansion Partners Team. His other public service included working on the Fort Douglas Task Force and the Salt Lake City Olympics Organizing Committee in the Sustainable Buildings Work Group. His awards and honors include the University of Utah Distinguished Teaching Award, the University of Utah Public Service Professorship, the Utah Heritage Foundation Lucybeth Rampton Award, John R. Park Fellowship, Association for Preservation Technology International College of Fellows, and the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. He has lived in Salt Lake City for the past 19 years and resides with his wife, Deborah, in the 1904 G. H. Schettler House which he restored in 2001. That restoration won awards from the Salt Lake City Historic Landmarks Commission and Utah Heritage Foundation. He currently is a professor of architecture and the director of the historic preservation program for the College of Architecture + Planning.