Mansueto Fellows

Meet the Institute Postdoctoral Fellows in urban science and practice at the University of Chicago. The fellowships are full-time academic appointments for typically two years, with possible annual extensions by common agreement. Positions are structured between the Mansueto Institute and one of the University of Chicago’s Departments or Schools.

Benjamin Fogarty-Valenzuela

Benjamin Fogarty-Valenzuela

Institute Postdoctoral Fellow & Sociology Postdoctoral Scholar

Benjamin joined the University of Chicago after receiving his PhD in anthropology from Princeton University in 2019. His book project, Pedagogies of Occupation: Free Time, Professionalization, and Protest in Urban Brazil, examines the politics and policing of youth in Brazil. The book addresses the anthropology of policing and incarceration, youth activism, education, digital media, drugs, and time, and is based on research that has been published in Current Anthropology. In a recent event with The New Yorker’s Jon Lee Anderson, he launched Art of Captivity / Arte del Cautiverio (University of Toronto Press 2020, co-authored with Kevin Lewis O’Neill). A Spanish/English photo-ethnography and digital exhibition, the book investigates artistic production by youth inside drug rehabilitation centers in Guatemala. Fogarty-Valenzuela’s research has been supported by the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and the Harold W. Dodds Honorific Fellowship. At the University of Chicago, he teaches “Virtual Ethnographic Methods”—the class syllabus appearing in the Cultural Anthropology blog—and convenes the Chicago Ethnography Incubator. His multimodal work won the 2020 Current Anthropology Visual Anthropology Competition, and in 2021 he became the journal’s inaugural Visual Media Editor. He is currently working on a film that chronicles the occupation of a school by a vanguard youth movement in Brazil.

 

MICHELE MASSA

MICHELE MASSA

Institute Postdoctoral Fellow & Oriental Institute Postdoctoral Scholar

A Near Eastern archaeologist, Michele holds a PhD degree from University College London (2016) and he has a joint appointment at the Mansueto and the Oriental Institute. His academic interests include theoretical approaches to social complexity (urbanism, conflict, labor specialization), environmental archaeology and archaeometallurgy. A common thread to Michele’s academic work is his interest to make knowledge of past societies relevant to the present, something that he has pursued through collaboration with public archaeologists, cultural heritage managers and social anthropologists across several projects. His current research at Mansueto aims at investigating the impact of cities on their surrounding natural and human landscapes during the early stages of urbanization in southwest Asia (4000-500 BCE). Between 2016 and 2018, he was an Assistant Professor at Bilecik University (Turkey), and since 2017 he is the co-director of KRASP (Konya Regional Archaeological Survey Project), an interdisciplinary program that investigates the dynamic relation between nature and society in central Anatolia across the Holocene (9500 BCE-present).
Victoria Romeo Aznar

Victoria Romeo Aznar

Institute Postdoctoral Fellow & Evolution and Ecology Postdoctoral Scholar

Victoria is from Argentina and joined the University of Chicago Modeling and Theory in Ecology and Epidemiology Lab as a postdoctoral scholar in 2016. She received her PhD in Physics from the University of Buenos Aires, where she developed a non-linear stochastic model for the population dynamics of the mosquito Aedes aegypti, one of the main vectors of Dengue. She also conducted research in the Biology of Integrative Systems Lab at Leloir Institute Foundation, where she developed and analyzed prioritization methods for complex networks of biological origin. She is currently seeking to understand how spatial heterogeneity, population density, and socioeconomic disparity affect the transmission of vector-borne diseases in cities. She is developing stochastic transmission models that incorporate different assumptions on the effects of human and vector distributions and mobility. She is a physicist who is curious about complex systems, and the application of mathematical models to biology and social sciences. She enjoys exploring the outdoors and traveling.

Patricia Romero-Lankao

Patricia Romero-Lankao

Institute Research Fellow

Pati is an “interdisciplinary sociologist” by training and has worked with scholars and decision makers at local, national and international scales. She is jointly appointed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and has been a research scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), leading NCAR’s “Urban Futures” initiative. Her research explores the dynamics of urbanization and the systems that shape urban emissions, vulnerabilities and risk. She has also studied why and how particular cities attempt to meet the challenges of reducing emissions while improving their resilience to environmental impacts. She is currently designing urban-scale interdisciplinary studies that inform and are informed by global-scale interdisciplinary research.

Nicole Rosner

Nicole Rosner

Institute Postdoctoral Fellow & Anthropology Postdoctoral Scholar

Nicole Rosner is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation and a Postdoctoral Scholar affiliated with the UChicago Department of Anthropology. Her research concerns the everyday politics of city-making and the violent reproduction of social, spatial, and racial inequality. Her regional interests lie in Latin America, particularly Brazil. Her doctoral dissertation draws on ethnographic research in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to investigate divergent political reactions to the unfinished work of urbanizing, securing and greening Rio’s working-class communities. She examines how the lived experience of urban renewal in Rio’s poor peripheries over the past decade illuminates the contemporary erosion of liberal democracy in Brazil. She is currently working on a book project tentatively titled: Remaking the City, Unmaking Democracy: The Afterlives of Urban Renewal in Rio de Janeiro. Nicole’s research has been funded by Fulbright-Hays, the Inter-American Development Foundation (IAF), the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship; Global Metropolitan Studies Fellowship, the Stanley Brandes Grant for Ethnographic Field Research, and the Center for Latin American Studies Tinker Grant at UC Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. in Sociocultural Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley with a designated emphasis in Global Metropolitan Studies, her MSc in City Design and Social Sciences from the London School of Economics, and her B.A. from Harvard University with honors.

Jared Schachner

Jared Schachner

Institute Postdoctoral Fellow & Sociology Postdoctoral Scholar

Jared recently completed his Ph.D. (2020) in Sociology & Social Policy at Harvard, where he was a doctoral fellow in the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy and a Meyer Fellow at the Joint Center for Housing Studies. His research examines whether and how urban neighborhoods, schools, and childcare settings mediate the intergenerational transmission of skills and status. To this end, he draws on theories and methods from urban sociology, inequality/stratification, sociology of education, social policy, and spatial analysis and uses his hometown of Los Angeles as a case study. Prior to completing his doctorate, Jared attended Harvard’s Kennedy School, worked at the New York City Department of Education, consulted several national nonprofits, including the United Negro College Fund, Audubon Society, and Women’s World Banking on their social impact strategies, and received a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics & Economics and Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

 

Suraj (Neil) Sheth

Suraj (Neil) Sheth

Institute Doctoral Fellow & MD-PhD Candidate at the Pritzker School of Medicine

Suraj (Neil) Sheth is an MD-PhD Candidate (MSTP) at the Pritzker School of Medicine in the Interdisciplinary Scientist Training Program, and a Doctoral Fellow in Biomedical Informatics, Global Health and Precision Medicine at the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation at the University of Chicago. He has served as the President of the Pritzker Journal Club and the Pritzker Business in Medicine Interest Group. Neil is the recipient of the Volunteer Gold Service Award from President Barack Obama for his leadership in the areas of Healthcare, Education and Sustainability. In 2017, he spent a year traveling around Italy and China researching the impact of smoking on teens, and worked at the World Health Organization in Beijing under Dr. Bernhard Schwartländer (currently the Chef de Cabinet at the WHO). As a mathematical biologist and data scientist studying complex systems, Neil’s interdisciplinary research in biomedical informatics utilizes large datasets to understand the impact of pandemics such as COVID-19 on local communities, and leverages population health insights for precision medicine interventions using participatory mechanisms, predictive analytics and preventive frameworks. Neil’s work is aimed at helping the World Bank, UN, and the World Economic Forum achieve the UN’s Agenda 2030 for Global Sustainable Development to create inclusive and equitable societies. He graduated summa cum laude (highest honors) from Loyola University Chicago, majoring in Biology and Molecular Neuroscience. A native of Chicago, Neil speaks conversational French, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Tamil and Gujarati. He enjoys water sports, reading books and traveling.

 
FENGLI XU

FENGLI XU

Institute Postdoctoral Fellow & Knowledge Lab Postdoctoral Scholar

Fengli is a data scientist, who uses data mining, machine learning, and network representation learning algorithms to investigate how citizens move and interact in urban space. His research interests span the fields of data science, urban science, and computational social science. He currently focuses on harnessing the power of newly available urban big data (e.g., street view images and mobile network records) and developing data-driven models for urban activities. Fengli is a Mansueto Institute Fellow and Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Chicago Knowledge Lab. Fengli received his Ph.D. in Engineering from Tsinghua University in 2019, where he developed spatiotemporal data mining algorithms and stochastic models for urban mobility.

Former Institute Postdoctoral Fellows

Anni Beukes

Anni Beukes

On Sabbatical

Anni’s research interest lies at the nexus of poverty, place, and politics. She focuses on understanding how the processes and technologies of knowledge making, especially the creation and use of digital mapping tools, affect communities and populations living in marginalized neighborhoods internationally. Before joining the Mansueto Institute, Anni spent four years with Slum Dwellers International (SDI) where she was responsible for SDI’s data ecosystem, from community managed data collection, to data platform management, analysis and partnerships. She led SDI’s efforts at the intersection of organized community groups, researchers, technologists and software developers to create and refine tools, methods and practices for community-driven knowledge production. Anni holds degrees in social anthropology from University Stellenbosch in South Africa.

Christof Brandtner

Christof Brandtner

Assistant Professor at emlyon business school

Christof’s work spans the sociology of cities, environmental and economic sociology, and organizational theory. He examines the causes and consequences of formal organizing—such as planning strategically and evaluating success—in urban governance, sustainability, and civil society. His dissertation developed an organizational theory of why some cities more proactively tackle environmental and social challenges such as climate change than others, highlighting the role of nonprofits and professional associations. Currently, Christof investigates the emergence of city administration in fin de siècle Vienna and the interplay between civil society organizations and urban development. He collaborates on the Civic Life of Cities project, a comparative study of organizational change in the nonprofit sectors of global cities. Christof holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Stanford and a B.Sc. from the Vienna University of Economics and Business.
 
Kyoung Whan Choe

Kyoung Whan Choe

Former Institute Postdoctoral Fellow & Psychology Postdoctoral Scholar

Kyoung is a cognitive neuroscientist, who uses simple games, brain imaging, eye-tracking, and machine learning to study how the internal and external environment affect human cognition. He currently focuses on (1) developing new neuro-scientific approaches to study urban issues (e.g., mobile neuro-imaging and eye-tracking) and (2) empowering interdisciplinary research that involves measuring human cognition in urban contexts (e.g., simultaneous eye-tracking and interviewing). Kyoung was a Mansueto Institute Fellow and Postdoctoral Researcher in the University of Chicago Environmental Neuroscience Lab. Kyoung completed his PhD at the Seoul National University Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences in 2015, investigating the role of primary visual cortex in perceptual decision-making.
 
Personal website: https://kywch.github.io
Amy Krauss

Amy Krauss

Postdoctoral Instructor at the Pozen Center for Human Rights & Former Institute Postdoctoral Fellow

Amy Krauss holds a Ph.D. (2016) in Anthropology from Johns Hopkins University and is the Postdoctoral Instructor at the Pozen Center for Human Rights. Her current book project examines feminist practices of care and solidarity across rivaling state jurisdictions of abortion rights and criminalization in Mexico City. More broadly, the project addresses critical questions of law and social change; urban healthcare systems and inequality; and the intersections of ethnographic research and feminist activism. She teaches courses on human rights and reproductive justice movements in Latin America and the U.S., and on the politics and ethics of representation in ethnographic, visual and literary depictions of pain and social suffering. 

 

Daniel Zünd

Daniel Zünd

Former Institute Postdoctoral Fellow & Evolution and Ecology Postdoctoral Scholar

Daniel joined the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation in 2017 after completing his MSc in Computer Science and doctoral studies in Architecture/Urban Planning from ETH Zurich. He is enthusiastic about researching the fundamental laws of urban systems and their application to the real world. His goal is to find properties that can improve the quality of life in cities with minimal intervention. His previous work focused on the development of tools to support the urban planning and decision-making process, taking non-linear, self-organizing dynamics into account.  The tools have been applied in different large-scale projects in Switzerland and Singapore. Daniel has been a lecturer at ETH Zurich, worked for different companies as a software engineer, and built his own startup company.