GUSP Student Profiles


Marwa Bakabas

Marwa Bakabas

Marwa Bakabas is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at Michigan State University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Affairs with a concentration on the Middle East and North Africa from George Mason University and a Master of Arts degree in Anthropology from the American University of Beirut. She has conducted ethnographic research to understand the ways of dwelling and life transformations through disaster faced by refugees living in a state of temporality in informal settlements in Lebanon and transit camps in Greece. Through volunteering and research, her work has focused on public and applied anthropology to promote awareness of the ongoing issues of violence and exile. Thus far, her research has included sea border crossings, humanitarianism, death & dying, the ageing population, memory, and the space of refuge. While working with refugees, she became inspired to study the conflict in Yemen and those who are facing similar distress. Her doctoral research will focus on building academic scholarship by shedding light in the context of the understudied population of displaced Yemenis.Additionally, she is a Research Fellow on the DAAD Higher Education Dialogue with Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München working on a publication called “Violence, Trauma and Exile: in the Arab World and Germany.” 


Jiang Chang

Jiang Chang

Jiang Chang is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences and a graduate research assistant in the Global Urban Studies Program (GUSP) at Michigan State University. His research broadly focuses on urban (re)development processes and its impacts on local residents, with a special focus on gentrification, displacement, neighborhood deprivation, and people-place relations in the Chinese urban context. His current research explores a range of topics in these areas, including 1) the gentrification processes during urban (re)development, its spatial distribution, and its impacts on the underprivileged; 2) the determinants and outcomes of community attachment, place attachment, and life satisfaction in a variety of urban neighborhoods among different groups of residents; and 3) the role of class, race, and culture in determining travel and health outcomes. His dissertation examines gentrification processes among the core poor in Hong Kong, where has been experiencing rapid urban (re)investment and (re)development over the past several decades. All his work has been trying to explore how urban (re)development can improve urban landscape and residents’ life quality while minimizing negative social costs. He has 14 peer-reviewed articles in print or published in English and Chinese and two book chapters published in English.


Jim Glenn

Jim Glenn

Jim Glenn is a Ph.D. student in Planning, Design, and Construction with a concentration in Urban Planning. A native of Owensboro, Kentucky, Mr. Glenn graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering. While at the University of Kentucky (UK), he made headlines across the country by becoming the first African American student body president of UK, where he served as a passionate advocate for graduate and undergraduate students. After spending time in the engineering industry, he received his Master’s of Public Administration from Cornell University. Mr. Glenn has been very active in politics, taking on various roles, including serving as Chief of Staff for Michigan State Representative Bert Johnson and as the Kentucky State Director for Organizing for America (the successor to President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign). His research interests include local elections and economic development, how animal bites correlate with urban health disparities, and the way city border shapes impact neighborhood resource allocation. Mr. Glenn's research provides a lens into making cities more livable, as well as responsive to their citizens.  He has also presented well-received research at several national conferences.  Mr. Glenn’s published work includes a study on racial proximity and campaign contributions that appeared in Electoral Studies Journal and an essay on constituent opportunities associated with redistricting in The Legislator.


Azad Hassan

Azad Hassan

Azad Hassan is a Ph.D. candidate (ABD) in the School of Planning, Design, and Construction at Michigan State University. He is also an assistant lecturer at Nawroz University, Iraqi Kurdistan Region. He holds two M.S.C.’s in Spatial Planning and Statistics from Duhok University, Iraqi Kurdistan Region. In addition to his urban planning expertise, he is an Arabic Integrate Language Fellow for the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) Cultures and Languages across the Curriculum (CLAC) program. He is also an Instructor in the Department of Math and Sciences at Lansing Community College in Michigan, where he teaches an Introduction to Statistics and Probability course. Hassan's broad research focuses on sustainability in distressed places along with emerging and conflict states. Specifically, he has been working on developing a conceptual and professional methodology by which an Urban Sustainability Index could be constructed for distressed places. He, along with co-author Dr. Zeenat Kotval-K, in the School of Planning, Design, and Construction, recently published a paper titled "A Framework for Measuring Urban Sustainability in an Emerging Region: The City of Duhok as a Case Study" in the Sustainability journal.


Kionna Henderson

Kionna Henderson

Kionna Henderson is a Medical Geography scholar in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences at Michigan State University with a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. Her research focus is on the effects of racism on maternal health in the United States. She believes that like illnesses and diseases, racism is an epidemic that affects this entire country. Her research is designed to shine the light on the growing maternal heath disparity gap and hopefully provide a foundation for change. Currently, she is working on a research project that assess similar effects of racism in Flint, MI. Outside of academics, Kionna is very active in her hometown community. She has a scholarship in honor of her late sibling at her alma mater, Pine Bluff High School. This scholarship is designed to assist underprivileged students attend college. It is Kionna’s hope to create a foundation that assists minority communities and decrease health disparities.


Ezgi Karaoglu

Ezgi Karaoglu

Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, Ezgi Karaoglu is a Ph.D. student in MSU’s Department of Sociology, with a specialization in the Global Urban Studies Program. Before joining MSU, she worked with refugees in Turkey for the UN Refugee Agency as well as a national NGO for 6 years fulfilling various duties. Her work focuses on vulnerable cases, including survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, victims of torture, and LGBTI+ individuals. She has managed operations and ensured that refugees acquire social citizenship by having access to rights and services in challenging urban spaces. She earned a BA degree in psychology at Koc University and a MS degree in social psychology at Middle East Technical University, Turkey. Concurrently, she has worked as a creative drama trainer, facilitating workshops with diverse multilingual and multicultural groups on mitigating the negativity of prejudice and stereotyping through intergroup contact. Coming from a practitioner background, her research in MSU focuses on the articulation of rapidly changing political environments, political discourse, and sustainability of refugee integration through refugee networks in urban spaces in Turkey. Critical dimensions of the research focus on perceived social justice, equality, religion, and political thought in developing applicable and transformative interventions to help NGOs and professionals in the field.


Xiaomeng Li

Xiaomeng Li

Xiaomeng Li is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences at Michigan State University. Her research interests include urban travel behavior, urban networks, and urban modeling and simulation. Her current research focuses on daily travel behavior in the Detroit region, with the goal to provide a deeper understanding of urban travel in distressed urban regions and assist in the achievement of efficiency and social equity and inclusion. She has co-authored articles on journals such as Cities and Economic Development Quarterly. She has also co-authored book chapters in Handbook of Global Urban Health, Obesity in Childhood and Adolescence, and Critical Perspectives on Suburban Infrastructures.


Cordelia Martin-Ikpe

Cordelia Martin-Ikpe

Cordelia Martin-Ikpe is a PhD student in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences at Michigan State University. In addition to being a full-time student, mother and wife, she is also an MSU Geography instructor, teaching an undergraduate course titled the Geography of Environment and Health. As a Detroit native, her interest in how one’s life chances are shaped by their neighborhood context was ignited through her childhood experience of living in Detroit’s inner city, while attending high school in an affluent Metro Detroit suburb. After completing both her BA and Masters of Public Health (MPH) at Michigan State University, she began working in the specialty area of research and program evaluation at Michigan’s Public Health Institute (MPHI). Having been inspired by the opportunity to examine health inequity through a spatially driven theoretical lens, she decided to pursue a PhD in Geography after working in the public health industry for a few years. As a PhD student, her research broadly focuses on the relationship between neighborhood effects, racial residential segregation and health inequity. Furthermore, she is the current Graduate Student Liaison for MSU Geography’s Advancing Geography Through Diversity Program (AGTDP) and former co-president of Supporting Women in Geography (SWIG).


Amal Shaaban

Amal Shaaban

Amal Shaaban is a Ph.D. Candidate in the School of Planning, Design and Construction at Michigan State University with a major in Environmental Design. She has a bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt. Also, she has a master’s’ degree in Urban Design, and a masters’ degree in Urban Planning from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA. Amal’s passion is designing places for people to help them thrive spiritually, socially, and spatially in sustainably conscious built environments. Her current PhD research focuses on assessing the impacts of the design guidelines and policies adopted by two contemporary neighborhood design initiatives, namely New Urbanism, and LEED-certified neighborhoods, on people’s quality of life. To further hone her passion, Amal is also a team member of Marquette Area Climate and Health Adaptation (MACHAP) project in the Upper Peninsula. This project is sponsored by the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) in partnership with the Marquette County Climate Adaptation Task Force (CATF), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), MSU and MSU extension. She is the lead designer of the MACHAP project, and is working closely with local stakeholders and local community members in order to create a set of appropriate design interventions to alleviate climate change impacts in Marquette Township. So far the team published three volumes of Marquette Area Climate and Health Adaptation Guidebooks that are rich with appropriate and cost effective design recommendations and feasible policies to help create more resilient communities with better quality of life in the UP. Also, Amal is currently working on publishing a paper that discusses the role of visuals in strengthening community awareness regarding climate change impacts and possible mitigation design interventions.


Marie Shingne

Marie Shingne

Marie Carmen Shingne is a PhD candidate in the Sociology Department at Michigan State University, with specializations in both Animal Studies and Global Urban Studies. Her background is in psychology and public policy, having earned an MSc in Animals and Public Policy from Tufts University and a BA in Psychology from Ohio Wesleyan University. She has spent a decade working with animals in shelters and zoos across the country, including the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) and the Indianapolis Zoo. These experiences have fostered an interest in multispecies relationships, especially in the urban spaces of the world. She has built her research around this interest, focusing on power and access in the contemporary urban space, with slum residents and street dogs in the Indian city of Pune as her guides to the city. Using multispecies ethnography, her research asks: how is the urban space shared and negotiated by different human and non-human urban residents, in what ways are these different residents impacted by these negotiations, and what does an inclusive city look like according to various stakeholders? Some of her work related to these questions has recently been published in the Journal of Urban Affairs.


Jonah White

Jonah White

Jonah White is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences at Michigan State University. He is also an Instructor in the Department of Geography at The George Washington University in Washington, DC where he teaches courses in environmental justice, environmental quality and management, and urban sustainability. His research focuses broadly on urban greening with particular attention on the intersections between gentrification, sustainable development, and environmental justice. His work specifically examines the socio-historical development of environmental gentrification and uses the environmental justice framework as a lens to critically evaluate sustainable urban development across the city of Seattle, WA and its wider metropolitan region. All facets of his work strive to better understand how cities can be more livable, sustainable, and environmentally and socially just for all residents. His work is published in academic journals that include the American Journal of Public Health, Sustainability, Interdisciplinary Environmental Review, and Asian Geographer. More recently, his co-authored work on the public health implications of gentrification appears in the Routledge Handbook of Global Urban Health.