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UM Research Experts


Barbara Brush

Dr. Barbara L. Brush is a Professor in the Schools of Nursing and Public Health, Associate Director of the National Clinician Scholars Program, and immediate past Board Member of the Detroit Urban Community-Academic Research Center (Detroit URC). Her research with families at risk for or experiencing homelessness in Detroit uses a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach in designing, implementing, and evaluating best practices needed to provide health and social services and inform health policy decisions that influence resource allocation to this underserved cohort. A content expert in homelessness and health, she served on a National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine committee between 2016 and 2018 examining evidence linking health and permanent supportive housing (PSH) in persons experiencing homelessness across the United States. Dr. Brush received her baccalaureate in nursing from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and her master’s and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.


Lan Deng

Lan Deng is Professor of Urban & Regional Planning in Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan. She has been studying housing policy and economics in both the U.S. and China. Her research examines the different types of interventions the two countries have developed to ensure adequate housing and suitable living environments for their residents. In the U.S., the interventions she studied include major government housing programs as well as community-based initiatives. Deng’s research in China examines the changing role of the state versus the development of the private market in shaping the country’s housing and urban development. Deng also serves as the North American Editor for Housing Studies, a leading international journal on housing research. Deng received her Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.S. and B.S. from Peking University, China.


Margaret Dewar

Margaret Dewar is Professor Emerita of Urban and Regional Planning in the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan. Her research focuses on American cities that have lost large shares of their peak population and employment and now have extensive blighted buildings and vacant land. With June Manning Thomas, Dewar co-edited The City after Abandonment (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013). She has written numerous articles on planning and policy in the context of extreme urban decline. Her current research projects look at phenomena in weak housing markets where large numbers of households experience poverty and discrimination has concentrated minority-race households. These projects include preventing evictions, reinforcing housing stability for households that go through tax foreclosure, facilitating low-income homeownership, preventing tax foreclosure, and analyzing physical evidence of care in neighborhoods with extensive disinvestment.


Alexa Eisenberg

Alexa Eisenberg is a postdoctoral research fellow with Poverty Solutions. Their research has focused on the injustice of racialized housing policies, financialization, and austerity – especially as these structures manifest through mass tax foreclosures, evictions, speculative bulk-buying, and slum-lording. They have years of experience integrating interview data, administrative property records, and community-based knowledge to understand how the implementation and enforcement of housing policies impacts housing and health justice in Detroit. Their current work seeks to provide evidence, interactive data tools, and public education materials for housing advocates and organizers to resist systematic displacement and make housing a human right.  Eisenberg worked as a graduate student researcher with Poverty Solutions and trained as a public health demographer with the University of Michigan’s Population Studies Center. Eisenberg holds a PhD in public health from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree from the University of Miami.


Robert Goodspeed

Robert Goodspeed is an Associate Professor of Urban Planning. He teaches in the areas of geographic information systems (GIS), collaborative planning, and scenario planning theory and methods. His research investigates how new information technologies can be used to improve the planning process and planning outcomes, and involves mixed-methods studies of innovative urban planning practice, the use of GIS to develop novel methods, and theoretical analysis of sociotechnical practices like crowdfunding and smart cities. He co-led the first major study of evictions in Michigan. Drawing on statewide case filing records and in-court case research in Washtenaw and Lenawee counties, the study documented the prevalence, locations, and other aspects of eviction. The project resulted in a policy brief and report, released on May 20, 2020, and an online map and scholarly article. He was named a Leading Thinker in Urban Planning and Technology by the website Planetizen.


Laura Gultekin

Dr. Laura Gultekin, Ph.D., FNP-BC, is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Biological Sciences at The University of Michigan's School of Nursing. She has spent the past several years partnering with community agencies to develop and implement research aimed at improving the health and well-being of families experiencing homelessness and housing instability. Through qualitative, multidisciplinary, community-engaged research, Laura is working to develop, implement, and measure community-sustainable programs that positively impact housing stability and the life circumstances, specifically exposures to trauma and violence, that contribute to family homelessness.


Sharon Haar

Sharon Haar, FAIA, NOMA is a Professor of Architecture at Taubman College. Her research spans topics that include the history of architectural practices devoted to social activism, equitable housing and urban design, and university campuses. Haar’s publications include: The City as Campus: Urbanism and Higher Education in Chicago and Schools for Cities: Urban Strategies. Her current book project, Re: Housing: Detroit situates contemporary projects to housing in Detroit within national conversations around equitable and affordable urban and housing design. She is the project lead in Taubman College’s Collective for Equitable Housing.


Haar is a member of the Board of the Architects Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American Institute of Architects, and serving as the President of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture in the 2022-2023 academic year. She is the recipient of numerous grants from institutions including the Graham Foundation, Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Fannie Mae Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and American Architecture Foundation. 


Justin E. Heinze

Dr. Heinze research investigates how schools influence disparities in violence and other risk outcomes from an ecological perspective that includes individual, interpersonal, and contextual influences on development. He is particularly interested in structural features of school context and policy that perpetuate inequity in violence and firearm outcomes, but also how these institutions can serve as a setting for intervention.


Dr. Heinze is currently an associate professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education in the School of Public Health and holds an appointment with the Combined Program in Education and Psychology.  He completed his PhD in education psychology from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 2011.  He is the Director of the National Center for School Safety, the faculty lead for Public Health IDEAS for Preventing Firearm Injury, and principal investigator of the Healthy Minds Study.

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Patrice Marie Hicks

Patrice Marie Hicks, PhD, MPH is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Kellogg Eye Center in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Michigan. Her research focuses on the neighborhood and built environment’s impact on eye disease (chronic and acute) and vision outcomes. Dr. Hicks received her PhD in Population Health Sciences from the University of Utah, where she was a National Institutes of Health T32 Vision Research Training Grant recipient and an Emerging Diversity Scholars Fellow. She also completed a master’s in public health from Michigan State University and a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Eastern Michigan University. Dr. Hicks is currently a fellow of the University of Michigan K12 Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA) program. 


Hsing-Fang Hsieh

Dr. Hsieh is a Research Assistant Professor at the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention at the University of Michigan. She received her MPH and Ph.D. in Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Her research focuses on applying resilience theory and multi-domain analysis to understand disparities in firearm injury and chronic conditions resulting from racism and violence exposure. Her research also seeks to identify behavioral, interpersonal, and community factors that promote resilience among communities shouldering the unjust burden of violence and racism and therefore inform preventive efforts. Dr. Hsieh was funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) in 2022 for a multi-year study to examine the interactions between structural racism and in-person racism in influencing firearm injury risk among Asian Americans. Dr. Hsieh has also received research funding as a PI or Co-I on grants from NIAAA, CDC, NIMHD, DOJ, NCI, NICHD and Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, focused on the field of youth violence and injury prevention. Dr. Hsieh also serves as the Evaluation Director for the National Center for School Safety and Prevention Research Center of Michigan.


Noah Kazis

Noah Kazis is an assistant professor of law at Michigan Law. His research focuses on land use, housing, and local government law. He studies legal and policy mechanisms to make cities and suburbs more affordable, equitable and integrated, as well as the internal institutional structures of local governments. Professor Kazis’s work has been published in journals including the Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal, and Michigan Law Review. Prior to joining the Michigan Law faculty, he was a legal fellow at New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. He also was an attorney for the City of New York, where he represented the city in matters including the development of legislation limiting greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, the defense and implementation of the sanctuary city policies, and two rounds of charter revision.


Joe LaBriola

Joe LaBriola is a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center. His research examines connections between housing, wealth, and racial and socioeconomic inequalities in the contemporary United States. Recent work highlights the driving role of race in the spread of residential growth controls across California cities in the late 20th century, and the consequences of local housing market appreciation / depreciation across the first decades of the 21st century for the magnitude of White-Black wealth gaps. At Michigan, he is a Faculty Affiliate at the Center for Inequality Dynamics and a team member of the Wealth and Mobility Study, which will use population-level tax and home equity data to estimate the geographic distribution of wealth—and in intergenerational wealth mobility—in the United States. Before arriving at Michigan, he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Brown University’s Population Studies and Training Center, and completed his Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley in 2021.


Paula Lantz

Paula Lantz is the James B. Hudak Professor of Health Policy at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. She is also director of the Ford School's BA program and holds an appointment as professor of health management and policy in the School of Public Health. Professor Lantz, a social demographer/social epidemiologist, studies the role of public policy in both creating and addressing/reducing social inequalities in population health. She is currently engaged in research regarding abortion policy, housing policy, and on how COVID-19 continues to exacerbate existing social, economic, and health inequities in the United States.  Her work includes research on social impact bond projects that focus on housing-related interventions, and also how flexibilities within the Medicaid program allow for funding related to housing.  An elected member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and the National Academy of Medicine, Professor Lantz received an MA in sociology from Washington University, St. Louis, and an MS in epidemiology and PhD in sociology with a focus on social demography from the University of Wisconsin.


Alison Miller

Dr. Miller is a developmental psychologist and Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education in the School of Public Health. She studies how social determinants such as poverty, stress, and adversity can shape health and development outcomes for young children and their families. She collaborates with HSHE faculty to examine housing as a determinant of health that impacts children directly, and has worked with the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan in Grand Rapids on a project that engaged parents and peer educators to prevent childhood lead poisoning in the home setting. She is also interested in resilience and protective factors, such as relational health and family routines, that can operate to promote child and family health and well-being, especially early in the lifespan.


Pablo Mitnik

Pablo Mitnik is an Assistant Research Scientist at the University of Michigan’s Center for Inequality Dynamics. His research focuses on economic inequality, intergenerational mobility, labor markets, and statistical methods. A large part of his recent work has aimed at improving the methodological approaches, statistical models, and data used to measure mobility and inequality of opportunity. His empirical research relies widely on tax and other administrative data. He is a co-investigator of the Wealth and Mobility Study, which uses population-level tax and home-equity data to examine total and housing wealth inequality and mobility in the United States. Other ongoing projects focus on the measurement of current income mobility, trends in earning mobility since the 1970s, the policy and institutional determinants of intergenerational mobility, and the methodological and conceptual foundations of research in mobility and inequality of opportunity. Before coming to Michigan, he was a researcher at Stanford University’s Center on Poverty and Inequality. He received a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Marie S. O'Neill

Marie O'Neill's research interests include health effects of air pollution, temperature extremes and climate change (mortality, asthma, hospital admissions, and cardiovascular endpoints); environmental exposure assessment; and socio-economic influences on health. She has worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Pan American Health Organization, in Mexico at the National Institute of Public Health and the National Center for Environmental Health as a Fulbright Scholar, and as a Research Fellow in Environmental Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. She was a Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar at University of Michigan from 2004 to 2006.


Natasha Pilkauskas

Natasha Pilkauskas is an associate professor of public policy at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. My research examines how public policies can improve the lives of low-income people, and in particular children. I study children's living arrangements, with a focus on those living with grandparents, drivers and consequences of economic insecurity, and the effects of social policy - in particular refundable tax credits - on families with children. Much of my research focuses on early childhood, a time when poverty and instability are known to have long-lasting detrimental effects on children’s health and development, and when social policies have been shown to have some of the strongest impacts on improving children’s life chances.


Ana Paula Pimentel Walker

Ana Paula Pimentel Walker is an associate professor in urban planning at the University of Michigan. She investigates how disenfranchised communities engage with urban governance and evaluates the significance of participatory institutions in planning socially and environmentally just cities. Her research aims to amplify the voices of informal dwellers, migrants, and ethnic minorities in the planning process, while co-producing strategies that defy inequalities and institutional racism. To achieve these goals, the action-oriented component of her research focuses on advancing community organizing, capacity building, and access to justice. Pimentel Walker has a long history of collaboration with housing movements, supporting their struggles for tenure security, basic services, and a healthy environment. She teaches courses in participatory planning, planning law, service-learning studios, housing policy, and environmental planning. Pimentel Walker holds a PhD in anthropology, masters degrees in urban planning and Latin American studies, and a law degree.


Kim Rollings

Trained in environmental psychology and architecture, Kim Rollings is a Health and Design Research Fellow at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. She was formerly an Assistant Professor at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture and Department of Psychology. Dr. Rollings’ research examines effects of the built and natural environment on physical and mental health, particularly among vulnerable populations within housing, school, and neighborhood settings. Her work has been featured in peer-reviewed publications and invited presentations, as well as by the Urban Institute and National Collaboration for Childhood Obesity Research. Current projects focus on affordable and supportive housing design and health, as well as associations between housing instability and healthcare. Dr. Rollings received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Human Behavior and Design from Cornell University’s Department of Design and Environmental Analysis. She also holds a B. Architecture from the University of Notre Dame.


Parth Vaishnav

Parth Vaishnav is an assistant professor of sustainable systems at the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan. My research aims to understand how technology can help solve social problems. Much of my work focuses on the environmental and human health consequences of energy production and use. I employ quantitative decision analysis, buttressed by qualitative insight, to understand how economic, political, and operational realities constrain technology deployment. I focus on finding strategies to decarbonize the economy, and to adapt to the warming that has and will occur even if we cut greenhouse gas emissions very rapidly. I am particularly interested in finding ways to make both mitigation and adaptation equitable. My projects fall into two broad categories: 1) The environmental consequences of electrification, and 2) the consequences of automation for the environment, equity, and work.

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