Research Team

Armin Akhavan

PhD in Interdisciplinary Engineering, Northeastern University

Armin Akhavan is a city and regional planner, spatial analyst, and information design and visualization specialist. Armin researches urban planning problems through analysis of spatial data, where he translates information into arguments through models, comparisons, visualizations, and maps. His work spans diverse platforms which include web- application development, scraping web data, data sonification, and database development. Before joining the Urban Informatics Lab at Northeastern, Armin worked at MIT’s Center for Advanced Urbanism, MIT’s Civic Data Design Lab, Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy and Boston Area Research Initiative. After receiving an undergraduate degree in planning from Tehran, Iran, Armin received a Masters in Urban and Regional Policy, and is working to get an MFA in Information Design and Visualization, and is a candidate for a PhD in Interdisciplinary Engineering at Northeastern University .

Lauti Cantaro

MS in Urban Informatics, Northeastern University

Argentinean Economist, recipient of the Argentine Presidential Fellowship in Science and Technology. Interested in business licenses and making the world a little nicer.

Edgar Castro

BS in Environmental Engineering, Northeastern University

Edgar is a research assistant working as a programmer and system administrator for the Urban Informatics and Resilience Lab at Northeastern University. Works on creating visualizations; scraping and aggregating geospatial data; maintaining lab servers, cloud machines, and databases; and creating and using tools to assess the ease of movement of people through cities under different scenarios.

Alex Ciomek

PhD in Sociology, Harvard University

Alexandra Ciomek is a Ph.D candidate in the Sociology Department at Harvard University broadly interested in urban neighborhoods, public safety, and crime prevention. At BARI, she works to better understand the city and the use of its services through work on various data sets from the Boston Neighborhood Survey to 911 calls. For her dissertation, Ciomek is studying the social networks of gang members and how they change across space and time.

James Huessy

MS in Urban Informatics, Northeastern University

James is a Master's student in Urban Informatics with a B.A. in History. His research focuses on housing and transportation policy and demographic shifts in the greater Boston area and around the country. As an undergrad, James started working at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy as a research assistant and had the honor of producing numerous reports, advancing the Center's technical research abilities, and conducting economic development workshops across the Commonwealth. He is now a BARI Research Team Member as well as a Research Consultant working with various policy-oriented entities including The Warren Group and The Boston Foundation. James's authored work includes: Staying Power II: A Report Card on Manufacturing in Massachusetts 2012 (2012) The State of the Built Environment: Greater Boston’s Infrastructure (2016) The Greater Boston Housing Report Card (2014-2017)

Talia Kaufmann

PhD in Public Policy, Resident Doctoral Fellow at Network Science Institute, Northeastern University

Talia Kaufmann is a PhD student in Public Policy and a Resident doctoral fellow at the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University. Her research is devoted to planning cities with data by deploying quantitative analysis methods in the practice of city planning. Talia’s current research is a collaboration with The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to measure accessibility to services in cities across the world with the goal of creating a ranking of cities by the level of accessibility they provide to their residents. Talia holds a Master’s degree in City Planning from MIT and a B.Arch from Tel-Aviv University. Before joining MIT, Talia served as a city planner and a planning information manager at the Tel Aviv-Yafo City Planning Department in Israel.

Justin de Benedictis-Kessner

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Boston Area Research Initiative

Justin is a political scientist who focuses on political behavior, public policy, urban politics, and experimental and quantitative methodology. His research examines how citizens hold government accountable, and how psychology, communication, and electoral institutions can subvert their ability to do so. Justin received his PhD from the Department of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his B.A. in Government and Psychology from the College of William & Mary.

Brian Levy

Postdoctoral Fellow in Sociology, Harvard University

Brian Levy holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. His research investigates how people sort into neighborhoods, implications of segregation for life chances, and neighborhood effects on socioeconomic outcomes.

Mike Shields

PhD in Sociology, Northeastern University

Mike is a Sociology Ph.D. candidate who serves as a research assistant and the Data Consultant at the Boston Area Research Initiative. Originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia, Mike retains a passion for “everything urban” and enjoys exploring and understanding the social fabric of urban living. Mike currently conducts research on gentrification, neighborhood change, urban sustainability, and “big data” in the social sciences.

Guido Sigoni

MS in Urban Informatics, Northeastern University

System Information Engineer, M.S. in DMKM and M.S. in Urban Informatics candidate, Guido performs as Research Assistant at Boston Area Research Initiative for which his current field of research is the individual and neighborhood influences in academic achievement on students in Primary School and High School in Boston.