Doctoral Students

Ph.D. in Urban and Public Affairs students

Andrew Bates
Andrew Bates received his Bachelor’s Degree in History from Macalester College in Minnesota, a Master of Public Administration from the University of Louisville, and a Master of Military Art and Science from the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS).  He works as an Executive Administrator in the Louisville Metro Office of Resilience and Community Services, the city’s social services agency. He is a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Community Action Professional (CCAP).  Andrew also serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Kentucky National Guard. His dissertation explores predictors of the relative sizes of homeless populations in American cities. He is currently on a leave of absence to attend an Army War College fellowship at the University of Washington in Seattle. 

Craig Barham
Craig Barham received his bachelor’s degree in Management and Economics from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica and his master’s degree in Public Administration from the University College of the Caribbean, also in Jamaica. He attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom and Junior Command and Staff School with the Canadian Armed Forces and served in the Jamaica Defense Force for nine years. He has worked in police oversight and police reform and designed a performance management system for the Jamaica Constabulary Force. His last position before coming to Louisville on a Fulbright scholarship was with Jamaica’s public service college where he trained public servants in Project Management and Strategic Management, and where he drafted a Solid Waste Master Plan for Jamaica. His interests include disaster management, urban resilience, urban sustainability and informal settlements. He was recently published in the Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy, and Governance with an entry on “Crisis Management and Sustainability;” and has a forthcoming entry in the same encyclopedia on “Crisis Psychology and Evacuations.” His dissertation involves research into the public policy behind the promotion of industrial clusters, with a specific focus on water technology innovation clusters in the United States.

Sheliza Bhanjee
Sheliza Bhanjee received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. She worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the departments of Psychology and Earth Sciences, and interned at the US EPA Division of Air Quality Modeling and Transportation, researching diesel retrofit technologies. After graduating, she spent three years in Kenya at the Aga Khan University managing the development of undergraduate health science curricula as well as supporting policy-oriented research projects on youth, urbanization, and food systems at the East African Institute. Her current research interests include rapid urbanization and development, food security, and urban policy.

Nick Conder
Nick Conder received his Bachelor's Degree in History and Master's in Public Administration from Western Kentucky University.  He is currently a Graduate Research Assistant at the School of Urban and Public Affairs, and also served as a Graduate Assistant with the WKU Department of Political Science before coming to the University of Louisville. He served as a field-organizing intern for a political campaign during the 2014 elections, has organized for several political causes during his time in Louisville, and has volunteered time as a high school quizbowl coach and tournament official. He is currently preparing to write a dissertation focusing on urban policies in which municipal governments assist residents in organizing and sustaining worker-owned and community-owned cooperatives. His other research interests include studying the effectiveness of urban policies in preventing discrimination against LGBTQ people, the relationship between poverty and higher education access, and the use of electoral politics to achieve equity for marginalized urban communities.

Amanda Denton
Amanda Denton received her bachelor’s degree in Japan Studies from the University of Kentucky. She attended Kansai Gaikokugo Daigaku in Japan, where her studies concentrated on international negotiation and criminal justice. She later worked for the Directorate of Intelligence of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, D.C. and Lexington, Kentucky. In 2012, she earned a master’s degree in Justice Administration from the University of Louisville, where she examined the relationship between housing policy and crime. She has conducted and presented research at national conferences regarding restorative justice, fear of crime and police among immigrants, and the criminogenic tendencies of public space. In 2015, she coauthored a paper entitled “Public Sentiment Immediately Preceding the Passage of a Sex Offender Law” in the academic journal Critical Issues in Justice and Politics. Her most recent work may be found in The Encyclopedia of Juvenile Delinquency and Justice (2017), The Encyclopedia of Corrections (2017), and The Encyclopedia of Women and Crime (forthcoming). Her dissertation work centers on public housing experiences of people with criminal justice involvement.    

Matt Fischer
Matt Fischer received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, combining philosophy and social psychology. At University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, he completed a master’s degree in teaching Arabic as a second language, earning the Ernest McCarus Award for proficiency in Arabic in the process. Matt has held lecturer positions in Arabic at the University of Michigan, Princeton University, the University of Louisville and Lehigh University. He has also served as Special Projects Manager for the International Center for Compassionate Organizations where he assisted in the development and analysis of a compassionate communication and mediation course for police departments and hospitality services. Matt is currently researching the intersection of policing and race, investigating how police-public perceptions and interactions can be positively influenced through collaborative communicative outreach, organizational policy and trust-building through non-law enforcement related interpersonal contact.

GlyptusAnn Grider-Jones
GlyptusAnn Grider Jones received a bachelor’s degree in political science and communication from the University of Louisville. After spending a year in South Korea through the Fulbright English Teaching Program, she earned a master’s degree in political science from Miami University of Ohio. Her academic research focuses on the intersection of secessionist theory and public education. Specifically, how do secessionist impulses manifest in charter school formation? Additional research interests include civic education in urban landscapes, urban e-government, public administration, and program implementation and evaluation. Her master’s thesis evaluated the implementation and impact of e-government across Ohio counties. Jones is presently the public relations and research coordinator for the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville and has served as a peer program evaluator with the U.S. Department of Education for the past two years.

Brenton Hereford
Brenton Hereford received his Bachelor’s in International Affairs with an emphasis on development and his Master’s in Economic Development from Murray State University. While in his Master’s program, he worked on several cost-benefit analyses that looked at a potential implementation of a natural gas fueling station and a comparison among green-top, white-top, and traditional roofs. His primary focus is on the Green Economy and the role of labor, education, and the role rational choices play in it.

Ekramul Islam
Ekramul Islam received his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Finance from North South University, Bangladesh. He also has a Masters in Resource and Environmental Management from the same university and MBA from Dhaka University. Ekramul has more than six years of professional experience in private sector development and sustainability in South Asia. He worked for the International Finance Corporation (IFC, World Bank Group) where he designed and implemented a range of projects on environmental risk management, sustainable energy finance, gender finance, and affordable housing in Bangladesh. He currently is a PHD student at the University of Louisville where he holds a University Fellowship from the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies (SIGS).   

Elizabeth Jones
Ms. Elizabeth Jones is a 2009 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center. As a student, she received the Juvenile Justice Clinic Award and helped found the Georgetown Journal of Law and Modern Critical Race Perspectives with her peers interested in scholarship on race and the law. Upon graduation from law school she worked as a public defender in New Orleans, Louisiana, the incarceration capitol of the industrialized world, before returning home to Louisville, Kentucky. In April of 2015 she was named by Louisville Business First as one of 20 people to Know in the Law.  She is currently the Dr. Robert Douglas Endowed Chair in the Pan-African Studies Department teaching classes and researching in the area of Race, Ethnicity, and the Law.  She has given talks, participated on panels, and been interviewed by media outlets on topics including mass incarceration, critical race theory, and the role of race in the law and criminal justice system.  Her current research focuses on the ways in which the criminal justice system and its surveillance and punishment mechanisms operate to shape outcomes in different communities in the city of Louisville. Ms. Jones is in the process of completing her dissertation on the “Impact of the Carceral State on Urban Citizenship.”

Steven Kersey
Steven Kersey is an architect with extensive experience designing and building cities.  He received his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Kentucky and his Master of Architecture from Harvard University.  While at Harvard, he served as research assistant to Dean Gerald McCue and Professor Jorge Silvetti.  After completing his graduate work at the Graduate School of Design (GSD) he worked with Moshe Safdie, a world-renowned architect, urban designer and former chairman of the Department of Urban Design at the GSD.  While with the Safdie firm, he worked on several large-scale urban projects such as The Esplanade in Boston, The National Gallery of Canada, Columbus Circle in New York, Mamilla in Jerusalem, and others; as well as new urban plans for communities in the Middle East and elsewhere.  Since arriving in Louisville he has built a successful professional practice in architecture and urban design, and maintains active professional architectural registration in nine states, as well as national certification with NCARB.  His interest in better understanding the nature of urban morphology and the adaptive re-use of abandoned urban artifacts stimulates his research interest in development within the context of blighted urban areas.  His experience and research also include “at-risk” development in the private sector, with particular focus on unconventional financing tools available for economic development in low-income and distressed neighborhoods. 

Bridget Nickerson
Bridget Nickerson received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy, and a Specialization in Science, Technology, the Environment, and Public Policy (STEPPS) from James Madison College at Michigan State University.  She then received her Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Louisville, where she served for two years as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Urban Studies Institute.  She currently holds a University Fellowship from the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies (SIGS). Her current research interests are varied, and include social equity, juvenile justice policy, science policy, and education policy.

Michelle Nickerson
Michelle Nickerson earned a Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University (MSU) in Psychology with a specialization in Women, Gender, and Social Justice, and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University (WMU). While attending WMU, Michelle was the Graduate Assistant for Leadership and Volunteer Services in the Student Activities and Leadership Programs office. Her interest in leadership and volunteerism led her to a position with the Center for Service-Learning and Community and Engagement at MSU and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program with Louisville Metro Government. Her academic and professional experience has influenced her Ph. D. research interests in education, social programs, political psychology, and the impact of urban policy on underrepresented communities.

Abby Perez
Abby Perez received her Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Louisville, where she completed an Honor’s thesis focusing on the works of Ernest Hemingway through an ecofeminist lens. She received her Master’s in English Rhetoric and Composition from Morehead State University. She holds a Diversity Fellowship through the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies (SIGS) and works as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Department of Urban and Public Affairs. She is particularly interested in studying homelessness as a crisis, the criminalization of poverty in the U.S., issues of social equity, and the politics of race.

Danielle Rohret
Danielle Rohret is a Ph.D. student and research assistant in the Department of Urban and Public Affairs.   She holds bachelor's degrees in Spanish and International Business from Loras College (Dubuque, Iowa), and a master's degree in public policy from the University of Northern Iowa.  Before returning to graduate school, Danielle worked for a number of years in community planning and development for local government.  She has substantial experience administering state and federal grants and has worked on such programs as the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (HUD) and Supplemental Disaster Recovery (FEMA).  Danielle’s research focuses on the causes and consequences of inequality of place, racial segregation, and neighborhood change, especially as it relates to public policy.

Shahbaz did his Masters in Transportation Sciences (Mobility Management) from Hasselt University, Belgium and a Bachelor’s degree in City and Regional Planning from University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan. In the summer of 2016, he worked in Edinburgh, Scotland on Designing and Executing the Parking Compliance survey, in addition to devising an improvement plan for tourist places in the city.  His MS thesis investigated the factors influencing the use of public bike share schemes for Last Mile travel in Belgium.  He also co-authored a research paper in 2014, titled “Improving the Energy Efficiency of Existing Commercial Buildings in Lahore Through Retrofitting Techniques.” In the mid-2017, he completed a research project at Denmark Technical University, exploring ways to improve public transit stations in Copenhagen.  His areas of interest are Sustainable Development, Transportation Planning, Housing, and City Regeneration.

Sait Sarr
Sait Sarr received his Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture, Food, and the Environment, a Master of Science degree in Environmental Studies, and a Master of Business Administration degree all from Kentucky State University in Frankfort, KY. His Master’s thesis focused on sustainable agricultural practices that are both beneficial to minority farmers in Kentucky while protecting the environment. In 2015, he coauthored a paper entitled “Analysis of Participation of Small Farmers in Kentucky Cost-Share Programs" and presented it at the Southern Agricultural Economics Association (SAEA) Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. He is currently a Graduate Research Assistant in the Department Urban and Public Affairs; his research interests include community sustainability and development, the development and effectiveness of environmental and energy policies, environmental justice, and poverty eradication.

Steve Sizemore
Steve Sizemore, AICP, is a city planner with over a decade of experience working in Louisville, KY and other communities, including Buenos Aires, Argentina and Hersonissos, Greece. He holds a master’s in urban planning from the University of Cincinnati. Over his career, he has focused his work on the role of transportation and land use planning as a tool for improving the quality of life in the city.  In Louisville, he played a key role in long-range initiatives focused on multi-modal transportation, land use, and healthy city planning. Between 2007 and 2015, he served as adjunct faculty in the University of Louisville’s Master’s of Urban Planning program. During his time as a doctoral student at U of L, Steve has served as a participant on the University’s Sustainability Council and works with the Center for Environmental Policy where he assists in producing housing policy reports and research on brownfield redevelopment.  Steve’s research interests include housing policy research, community development, land use planning, Latin American cities, and health impacts of the built environment.  He is currently working completing his dissertation where he is doing a critical discourse analysis on fair housing policy practices at the local level.  When not planning the city, he plays percussion in the award-winning music group, Appalatin.

Andrew Tucker
Andrew Tucker is a fifth generation Louisvillian trained at The New School Parsons in their inaugural cohort of the MS Design & Urban Ecologies program. As a practicing Design Strategist, Drew is passionate about engaging residents, community organizations/institutions, and local governments around the repair of ruptured ‘social infrastructures’, often damaged by the turbulent processes of urbanization. Drew's research interest include engaging informal processes of urbanization as a starting place to evaluate, critique, and ameliorate formal urban planning policy and implementation, the operative landscapes of planetary urbanization, the intersection of race and class in the uneven implementation of urban planning in the US, infrastructures of reparations, and the social production of space.

Anqi Xu
Anqi Xu received a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science and a Master's Degree in Land Resource Management from Sichuan Agricultural University (SAU), China. She was also a summer program fellow at the College of Resources and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Her previous research focused on rural-urban migration and land-use changes in China. She has published co-authored articles about rural housing abandonment in China in Resource Science (in Chinese) and Habitat International. As a current doctoral student in UPA, her recent research interests lie in the spatial dynamics of the US immigrate population and its residential attainment.

Christopher Wales
Christopher Wales received his Bachelor of Arts in political science at Northern Kentucky University, with a focus on comparative political ideologies, public service, and grassroots movements.  He is also finishing his work in the Masters of Public Administration program at the University of Louisville, where he is writing a thesis on Fairness Ordinances in Kentucky.  Currently, he is working with Dr. DeCaro as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Sustainability Lab, where he is researching the behavioral and structural aspects of sustainable development. His research interests include queer and subaltern urbanism, particularly the ways groups outside the hegemonic power structure of a society utilize city space to survive. He is also interested in the effects urban social policy has on minority groups, regional political ideology, grassroots activism, and urban politics.