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Meet the amazing students of the Global Urban Studies PhD Program!

Ayesha Ali



2019-2022 PhD Global Urban Studies, Rutgers, Newark University

2015-2017 Master of Education, Educational Leadership and Policy
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada
• Strands: Leadership, change, social diversity, and policy
• Methods: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods

2008-2009 Bachelor of Education
University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Canada
• Primary and junior divisions
• Additional qualifications: Teaching English as a Second Language

2004-2008 Bachelor of Science (Honors), Psychology, University of Toronto, Canada

Anticipated Graduation: 2022-2023

Research Interests: urban education, educational policies in K-12 and higher education, social mobility, social stratification, and immigrant studies.


Tugba Altin


Tugba Altin is a second year Ph.D. in GUS. After obtaining her Bachelor’s degree at Bilkent University in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design, she spent a year at Bauhaus University- Weimar, Germany in Advanced Urbanism. Once she completed her program at Bauhaus, she got her Master’s degree in Sustainable Architecture and Landscape Design at Politecnico di Milano, Italy with a GPA of 4.00.

Anticipated Graduation: 2023

Research Interests: place attachment, place making, and environmental refugees; understanding the built environments’ psychological impacts on vulnerable populations.

Ian Bouie



B.A. in Communication, 2003 from Fairleigh Dickinson University (Florham Park) & M.A. in Media Studies, 2005 from William Paterson University

Anticipated Graduation: 2021

Research Interests: Grow Your Own Teacher Programs, the precollege disposition of low-income college students, affordable teacher housing.

Title of Dissertation: A Phenomenological Study of a Grow Your Own Teacher Program (tentative title)

Thayane Brêtas


Thayane Brêtas graduated from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro with a degree in law and a masters in Contemporary Juridical Theories with an emphasis on Society, Human Rights, and Art. Her research focused on the juridical dilemma of sex work and working conditions observed in the sex commerce industry in Rio de Janeiro. Now as a doctoral student in the Global Urban Studies program, her aim is to continue her research on the sex industry and the ways that law and policy enforcement has influenced women’s lives in the trade.

Research Interests: Feminist studies, sex workers movement, urban redevelopment processes and law enforcement.

Gulse Eraydin


She graduated from the Department of Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, Bilkent University (Ankara, Turkey) and received her master’s degree from the City Planning Program of Middle East Technical University (Ankara, Turkey).

Research Interests: My previous research focuses on the analysis of migration and settlement patterns, solidarity and social networks of Syrian urban refugees in Turkey. As a doctoral student in the Global Urban Studies Program, my research will concern experiences, sense of belonging and place attachments of urban refugees in a multidisciplinary and comparative discourse.

Anticipated Graduation: 2021

Nakeefa Garay



Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Cook College
Bachelor of Science, Environmental Policy Institutions and Behaviors

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
Master of Public Policy, Community Development

Anticipated Graduation: 2021

Research Interests: Nakeefa’s research interests include nonprofit organizations, civic engagement and community development in the United States and South Africa. Her dissertation research will explore why some nonprofit organizations are better than others at engaging urban residents in community development initiatives.

Title of Dissertation: Civic participation in the United States and South Africa: A comparative study of NGO characteristics that influence participation in low income urban communities

Tolu Lanrewaju-Kadri



Rutgers University-Newark, MPH, Urban Administration

Princeton University, A.B., Anthropology

Research Interests: Tolu’s research interests are housed within urban sociology and legal geography. Tolu focuses on the spatiality of illegal and legal processes of displacement, and the consequential city-making. Focusing on refugees facing evictions in Cape Town, she uses mapping and ethnographic methods to make visible the effects of the displacement and dispossession of vulnerable urbanites in South Africa, a country that affords residents a right to housing. Tolu breaks from familiar neo-Marxists narratives to bring attention to dispossession beyond land and territory.

Title of Dissertation: Displac(e)scapes: A Critical Relational Ethnography of Refugee Housing and Displacement in Cape Town

Mary Malyska

Mary Malyska



B.A. Women’s Studies and English, Georgetown University, Washington D.C.

M.A. Secondary Teaching with a concentration in English, Montclair State University, NJ

M.A. Educational Leadership, Montclair State University, NJ

Research Interests:

educational ramifications of the digital divide and school-based technology one to one programs


Mary Flora Malyska earned her undergraduate degree in English and Women’s Studies from Georgetown University. Born and raised in New Jersey, she returned home after college to work at a children’s program in a transitional living facility for survivors of domestic violence. Unknowingly, this position was the start of her career in education. Mary went on to receive Master’s Degrees in Teaching Secondary English and Educational Leadership from Montclair State University. She worked as a high school English teacher in the Paterson Public Schools as well as in the Union Township Public Schools prior to becoming Union Township’s English Department Supervisor for Grades 6 – 12. Mary was then the Vice Principal of Washington Elementary School in Union Township. Currently, she is the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction in the South Plainfield Public Schools. Mary is a part time student in the Global Urban Studies, Urban Education Ph. D. program. Her research is focused on the educational ramifications of the digital divide with a special interest in school-based technology one to one programs.

Kristina Micu


Kristina Micu received her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Urban Studies from Saint Peter’s University where she is now an adjunct faculty for the Department of Sociology and Urban Studies. She gained professional experience through her internships at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration and Arigatou International in Geneva, Switzerland. Kristina received her Master of Arts degree in International Affairs from New School University with a concentration in conflict and security. Kristina is in her third year as a Ph.D. student in the Global Urban Studies program at Rutgers University-Newark. Her research is focused on social movements, collective action framework, identity and culture. Through her ongoing research in Poland, Kristina examines the role of culture and art-centered strategies in identifying issues of conflict and the construction of collective identity.

Research Interests: social movements, collective action framework, identity and culture


Hyacinth Miller



B.A. Political Science and Africana Studies, Brooklyn College, CUNY

M.A.  Political Science with a concentration in Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University

Ph.D. Global Urban Studies (in progress), Rutgers University

Research Interests: immigrant women and women of color in elected leadership and Caribbean immigrants in the Diaspora

Hyacinth Miller is a PhD student in the Global Urban Studies, Urban Systems program. Her research focuses on immigrant women and women of color in elected leadership and Caribbean immigrants in the Diaspora. Hyacinth has conducted original research and presented conference papers on subjects including West Indians in elected office in New Jersey and the U.S. and on multiple citizenship policies in the Caribbean. She recently published an article, “Black, Foreign-Born and Elected: West Indians in New Jersey’s Political Offices,” in the National Political Science Review, Volume 19.1.

Ana Sandoval



BBA Baylor University, MPA University of Texas at El Paso

Research Interests: My broad research plan is to explore how border schools address the geographical duality of being located in a border between two countries and investigate how embracing and encouraging multi-cultural identities can have a positive impact on academic achievement.

Anticipated Graduation: 2024

Vania Villanueva



Her research focuses on migration and immigrant integration, and quantitative methods. Recent work examines the experiences and economic integration of Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles and New York City. She holds an MA in Sociology from City University of New York and a BA in law from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru.