Gabriella is an associate professor of urban planning and international development in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) at MIT, where she leads the City Infrastructure Equity Lab (CIEL). She advises the UrbanAfrica and LatinX student initiatives in DUSP, and also works within MIT as a collaborating member of the Displacement Research and Action Network and on the Faculty Council of the Community Innovators Lab (CoLab). Professionally, Gabriella has served as the lead chair of the Global Planning Educators’ Interest Group and as a member of the Task Force on Global Planning Education, both for the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.
Gabriella’s research and teaching are centered on providing a grounded critical analysis of how the governance of infrastructure development—including its financial architecture, implementation, and especially evaluation—shapes the distributional, procedural, and epistemic fairness of infrastructure project benefits and the health of urban communities across the Americas and Africa. Her work has been published in journals including the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Urban Studies, Environment and Planning A, and the American Journal of Public Health, among others.
Prior to arriving at DUSP, Gabriella taught at Rutgers’ Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, and worked in various capacities with the UN Millennium Project, UNFPA, UN-HABITAT, Rockefeller Foundation, Center for Sustainable Urban Development at Columbia’s Earth Institute, Oxford Analytica and a private management consultancy focusing on fixed income finance in New York. Gabriella has studied and been an affiliated researcher in universities in Brazil, France, Mozambique, and the UK. She holds a BA in Political Science from Columbia, a Master of Philosophy in Development Studies with a concentration on Economics from the University of Oxford, and a PhD in Urban Planning from Columbia, where she was a NSF-IGERT fellow in international development and globalization.
Areas of Work
The City Infrastructure Equity Lab (CIEL) works toward building more equitable infrastructure systems—particularly in the water and sanitation domain. Our research provides a grounded critical analysis of how the governance of infrastructure development, including its financial architecture (e.g. budgeting, financing), evaluation, and partnering practices in the delivery of systems, currently shapes infrastructure benefits and community health outcomes. Our work examines infrastructures across a broad portfolio of country and city-level contexts, and within framings of climate change, public health, affordability, and knowledge production, in order to provide practical policy recommendations that improve equity outcomes, particularly for and with marginalized communities.
Abby Fullem is a second year Master in City Planning candidate at MIT, concentrating in environmental planning and policy. Prior to pursuing her master’s, she worked in Wyoming, California, and the Southwest supporting alternate dispute resolution processes and community involvement in local decision-making. She has worked in sectors including land-use, climate adaptation, renewable energy, transportation, public safety, and water. Abby is interested in working with communities and decision-makers to identify equitable and actionable solutions to environmental conflicts. She holds a BS in Geology from Haverford College.
Emily Fang is a current undergraduate (civil engineering & urban planning) at MIT pursuing a SB/MCP, concentrating in environmental planning and policy. Her experience includes work at an architecture firm, international development bank, environmental advocacy organization, and an education nonprofit in the building, transportation, and education sectors. At MIT, she is involved with education outreach in the greater Boston area.
Flavio is a Fulbright student and a second year Master in City Planning candidate at MIT, interested in the socio-spatial logics of informal settlements in the Global South. Prior to his master’s degree, he worked with informal settlements in Lima, and with rural communities along the Peruvian Andes and Amazon. Amongst his topics of research, he focuses on informality, property rights and land use policy. Also, he worked at the Peruvian Ministry of Housing and is currently a researcher for the Peruvian Future Institute and the Latin American Urbanists Network. He holds a Bachelor in Architecture from University of Lima.
Jay Maddox is in his second year in DUSP’s Master’s of City Planning program. His research focuses on mass housing policies through a comparative lens, drawing on both historical and contemporary case studies.
Daniela holds a Master in City Planning from MIT (International Development Group). Originally from Argentina, she has over 10 years' professional experience in the national and international public and non-profit sector, specializing on socio-urban integration and self-built urban human settlements. Currently, she works as a consultant for local governments, INGOs and grassroots networks of the urban poor in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. She has also worked at UNDP Argentina, IECAH Spain and the Buenos Aires City Government, where she was Director General of Social Innovation and Participatory Planning. She holds an MA in International Cooperation and Public Policy (Ortega y Gasset Madrid, Spain) and a BA in Political Science (Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina). Her research interests include global governance, participatory planning, social justice and infrastructure equity.
Samra earned her Master in City Planning (2020) in the International Development Group at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Prior to MIT, Samra completed her undergraduate degree in Materials Engineering at McGill University. Her work experience includes risk management consulting in the US and Ethiopia. Samra’s current interests include infrastructure development, urban systems, spatial modeling and analysis, data visualization, and audio storytelling.
An adage I have heard about MIT is that students do not come here to be taught; they come here to learn. As an academic, there couldn’t be a more stimulating environment and abundant supply of innovative, caring, and dedicated individuals with whom to learn. The photo above captures a few of us in 2018 (Asmaa, Prassanna, myself, Mark, Isadora, and last but not least an insert of my youngest student of all). Those who study with me—across methods and subjects of infrastructure, public finance, and Southern theory—know that professors who come to MIT also do not come to simply teach, but to continuously learn.
Navigating Politics in Water and Sanitation Planning
DUSP Class Page
RESEARCH DESIGN FOR POLICY ANALYSIS & PLANNING
BUDGETING & FINANCE FOR THE PUBLIC SECTOR
MATI MOZAMBIQUE (PRACTICUM)
DUSP Class Page
Isadora Cruxên, PhD 2022
Disordering Capital: The Politics of Business in the Business of Water Provision
Prassanna Raman, PhD 2020
The Politics of Visibility in Urban Sanitation: Bureaucratic Coordination and the Swachh Bharat Mission in Tamil Nadu, India
Daniel Gallagher, PhD 2019
Enduring or Escaping Legacies? Politics, inherited institutions, and rebellion in the struggle over water futures in Chile
Brittany N. Montgomery, PhD 2019
Delivering Urban Projects: Contracting, Voice, and Anti-corruption in Infrastructure
Isadora Araujo Cruxên, Master in City Planning 2016
Fluid Dynamics: Politics and Social Struggle in São Paulo's Water Crisis (2014-2015)
Jenna Harvey, Master in City Planning 2016
Deepening Democratic Capacity Through Collective Inquiry: Community-Led Research at Palma's Lab
Alison Coffey, Master in City Planning 2015
Negotiating Neighborhood Priorities: The Politics of Risk & Development in Medellín’s Comuna 8
Callida Cenizal, Master in City Planning 2015
Governing the metropolis: The evolution of cooperative metropolitan governance in Mexico City’s public transportation
George Beane, Master in City Planning 2014 & Master of Science in Architecture Studies 2015
Hydro-Social Infrastructures: New Models for Water-Sensitive Urban Development in Mexico City
Hector Flores-Ramirez, Master in City Planning 2015
Notes Towards a Place-Based Approach for the Development of Southern Mexico
Kate Mytty, Master in City Planning 2015
The Role of Actors and Incentives in Municipal Solid Waste Management: a Case Study on Muzaffarnagar, India
Yael Borofsky, Master in City Planning 2015 & Science, Technology and Policy 2015
Towards a Transdisciplinary Approach to Rural Electrification Planning for Universal Access in India
Sarah Dimson, Master in City Planning 2014
A Planning Paradigm for Electrification in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Case Study of Tanzania
Laura Martin, Master in City Planning 2014
Culture, Cooperation and Planning for Development in Maputo, Mozambique
Lillian Steponaitis, Master in City Planning 2014
Too Legit to Quit: Exploring Concepts of Legitimacy and Power in Scaling-Up Community Development Work (Brazil)
Anna Gross, Master in City Planning 2013
Stree Mukti Sanghatana: Exploring the Work of an Indian NGO through Gender, Economy, and Civil Society
- African Studies Association (ASA)
- American Public Health Association (APHA)
- Association of American Geographers (AAG)
- The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP)
- Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA)
- Latin American Studies Association (LASA)
- Urban Affairs Association (UAA)
- New England Graduate Student Water Symposium
- Urban Africa
- The Science Impact Collaborative
- Presidential Fellows Program
The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress Fellows Program allows undergraduate and graduate students a year-long opportunity to study U.S. leadership and governance. Fellows attend two conferences, write a paper, and gain professional mentors.
- BRASA Brazilian Initiation Scholarship (BIS) Award
The Brazilian Initiation Scholarship award helps cover the costs of exploratory research or language training in Brazil.
- CDC Fellowships
The Public Health Associate Program (PHAP) is a two-year fellowship, and the Public Health Prevention Service (PHPS) is a three-year training and service fellowships for master's level public health professionals. The CDC also has the Pathways Program, providing opportunities for students and graduates.
- MIT Language Conversation Exchange
Informal conversation partnerships open to all members of the MIT community.
- The Cambridge Center for Adult Education
The Cambridge Center for Adult Education provides reasonably priced 9-week Portuguese classes.
- Middlebury Language Schools: Portuguese
This seven week summer program at Middlebury College in Vermont focuses on language, culture, and literature.
- Harvard Extension School
The Harvard Extension School provides fall and spring classes in elementary Portuguese.