MU Students 2008-2010

Débora Alejandra Swistun, Argentina

I was born and grew up in Buenos Aires (Argentina). I studied Economics in Universidad of Buenos Aires and graduated as Anthropologist from Universidad Nacional de La Plata (Argentina). I worked for environmental government agencies in Argentina for the last three years and conducted research about environmental risk issues and territorial conflicts in Buenos Aires metropolitan area for Instituto de Investigaciones Gino Germani (Universidad de Buenos Aires). I also worked with NGO's and grassroots organizations around environmental issues and together with Prof. Javier Auyero published Inflamable. Estudio del sufrimiento ambiental (Paidós 2008, coming in English in March 2009 by Oxford University press). At present, "Urban Development and International Cooperation Program" is a great opportunity for myself to share and expand my knowledge, experience and perspectives in these ever-changing, challenging fields of research and work.

Safa Ashoub, Egypt

Political Science and Public Administration
Safa was born in Saudi Arabia and raised between Cairo and Riyadh. She got her bachelor's in Political Science and Public Administration at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science (FEPS) in Cairo University (2005). She worked for the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) in Egypt in the Participatory Development Programme in Urban Areas (GIZ-PDP) for three years between 2005-2008. Working in the field of urban upgrading and encountering the world of slums in Cairo, she became ever more interested in the field of development especially from a political perspective, so she applied for the Mundus-Urbano programme. After completing her masters, she returned to Cairo and worked for the think tank of the Egyptian Cabinet (IDSC) for about a year. Currently, she is doing further interdisciplinary research in the area of Urban Politics at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Natasha Aruri, Palestine


Born in Jerusalem in 1984, a Palestinian, holder of B.Sc. in Architectural Engineering (2006, Birzeit University). She joined the ERASMUS Mundus Urbano in 2008 due to its interdisciplinary, intercultural and development-practice-oriented structure. The program was highly constructive in terms of gaining a critical perspective of the “development industry”. In her masters thesis she sheds light on the foreign-aid-led development processes that took place in her hometown “Ramallah” post the signature of the Oslo Accords, focusing on the socio-spatial impacts. She is currently based in Berlin, and enrolled at the University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany) in the doctoral program “Advanced Research in Urban Systems”. She remains a peace activist for the Palestinian cause.

Nebojša Camprag, Serbia

Town Planning
Nebojša graduated as town planner and obtained his M.Sc. degree in contemporary architecture and urbanism. After some working experience, mainly in heritage restoration and as a teaching assistant at the University in his home country, his professional development continued as Erasmus Mundus scholar on TU Darmstadt and IUG Grenoble. His M.Sc. thesis deals with the role of NGOs in determination of conservation politics, as a comparative study between Germany and the United Kingdom. Nebojša is employed as an architect and urban planner in a private office in Frankfurt, and is at the same time working on his PhD research, dealing with the issues of actual urban identity discourse.

Guillermo Takano, Peru

My name is Guillermo Takano, I am 28 years old and I am an architect as a profession.  I worked for the last years for the Urban Program in the Center for the Studies and Development Promotion, an NGOthat has been working for more than 40 years. Here I worked specifically in the Urban Observatory which has three main lines: Political and academic lobying, applicated research and GIS system providing for decision makers and community based organizations.

Tanya Jimenez, Mexico

I was born in Mexico City, Mexico. In 2004 I graduate from ITESM-CCM with a BA in Architecture with a Diploma in Construction Management. After three years of working in a design studio in residential projects, I decided to take part in the solution of the conflicts in my city, so I stared working for the local government. There I realized that needed more than my BA and applied for a master in Urban Development looking for the proper skills, that can help me to reach my personal and professional goals.

Nicolas Serrano Cardona, Colombia

I was born in 1978. I am Anthropologist from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (2004) and have a Masters degree in Habitat at the same University (2007). In 2006 I became member of the Corporación Puerta Abierta (Colombian NGO) where I have worked with forced displaced population in small and medium cities of Colombia. I also have worked as an independent consultant on gender, environmental conflicts and community participation. I am interested in migration, urban-rural development, and civil society – State relationships.

Muhammad Shamsuzzaman, Bangladesh

I hold a degree in Architecture from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (B.U.E.T.) and in  Urban Planning from Asian Institute of Technology (AIT). I have worked for seven years, from 1998-to 2006 with several international donor funded urban development projects in my home country Bangladesh. Just before joining the Mundus Urbano course I was working with an international organization (UN-HABITAT) in Kosovo which is a post-conflict transitional economy. Themain challenge in practicing urban planning here is to cope with its changing economic and governance system.  Over time new forms of problems are arising and new theories and paradigms have been developed that I need to be updated with. So, I became interested for the Mundus Urbano Course from where I am expecting to learn about the strategies to work with the above mentioned problems in the practical field.

Benjamin Katende Mukiibi, Uganda

Urban Planning
Benjamin Mukiibi has over 4 years experience in developing country work at policy, programme and project levels. He is interested in  understanding how urban changes are witnessed, and approaches needed to ensure sound and effective urban environmental management.

Jack Abuya, Kenya

Sociology and Urban Planning
I have a B.A in Sociology and a MPhil. in Development Studies both from Moi University, Kenya. I also have a Post Graduate Diploma in Integrated Urban Planning from The Technical University of Blekinge, Karlskrona, Sweden. I have worked for ten years in Kisumu City, Kenya  as the Deputy Director of Social Services and Housing and  as the Director of City Planning as well as lecturer in The Urban Management Masters Program at The Ethiopian Civil Service University College, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. My research interests are in the fields of; Urban Poverty Reduction Strategies, Urban Infrastructure and Transport Provision , Slum Upgrading, Local Government Management, Cities and climate change. I am currently a Lecturer and PhD student at Maseno University, Kenya as well as a Director of an NGO-Urban Solutions Kenya.

Luciana Hosannah, Brazil

My name is Luciana, I’m twenty-four years old and I’m from Brasil. I have lived in five different countries throughout my life and have always had a very international experience. I hold a degree in architecture and urban planning from the Universidade de Brasília in Brasil, where I had the  opportunity to work on college projects in shanty towns and irregular settlements. By working closely with the local communities and government agencies, I gained a whole new perspective on the world. Joining both of these different experiences, international and local, I acquired a new and unique way of perceiving the urban issues in developing countries. By taking the Mundus Urbano Master Course, I am learning to fine tune and develop this perception and intend to use it in my future professional career. 

Lizzette Soria Sotelo, Colombia

International Development Studies and Sociology

I participated at the second cohort of Mundus Urbano. Before joining the program, I had accumulated five years of research experience on social policy and urban governance. Upon graduation in 2010, inspired by my professors and colleagues from different disciplines and cultures, I decided to focus my experience in putting smart urban ideas into action. Accordingly I worked for two years as a technical advisor for Oxfam in Honduras, where I collaborated with local NGO’s and government officials to design, monitor and evaluate social development projects.  Presently, intertwining my studies, research and field experience, I work as the Latin America Program Coordinator at the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, based in Washington DC. As the only urban sociologist, I incentivize my team to value and integrate expertise from social sciences in urban development projects and research. In this way, I succeeded to launch the Gender & Cities blog initiative at one of the top 20 websites for urban planners and to lead gender integration strategies for urban and transport projects in Latin America.

Zhang Shengbo, China

Public Administration
My name is ZHANG Shengbo, 22, I come from China. I have a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and I am interested in urban management and urban planning.

George Kassab, Lebanon

Having a high interest in cosmopolitan development, I pursued my undergraduate studies in built environment, and graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor of Architecture (cum laude) from Notre Dame University. Since then, I worked in project management, architectural consultancy, and research on urban issues. However, the bulk of my professional background lies in my experience working on climate-responsive architecture and sustainable masterplanning. I have also volunteered in rights-based NGOs, working on human rights advocacy, conflict resolution, and raising awareness campaigns. 

Brenda Pérez-Castro, Colombia

Brenda is from Colombia and holds a degree in Sociology from Universidad del Rosario, Bogotá. She has a strong professional interest in urban policy and its effects on social reality. Her work experience with the NGO "Fundación Ciudad Humana" focused her interests on the participatory construction of sustainable cities, particularly in the field of urban mobility.

Zhang Feifei, China

Feifei holds degrees from the China University of Geosciences and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. She is a Geographer with a strong research history in peri-urbanization, migration, and urban agriculture. Her work has involved consultancy for various development organizations.

Gadzeni Mulenga, Zambia

Urban and Regional Planning
Gadzeni is an urban and regional planner from Zambia with three years of work experience as deputy director of planning at the Choma Municipal Councial, Zambia. Her experience includes physical as well as socio-economic planning for the Choma community. As employee of the Municipal Council she has dealt with issues surrounding land ownership and  settlement upgrading, and coordinated development efforts among the public sector, private firms, and civil society organizations. 

Isabel Parés-Ramos, Puerto Rico

Isabel is an urbanist, environmental scientist and geographer from Puerto Rico. As a researcher, she studied human dimensions of global environmental change, focusing on population and land use changes in urban and rural ecosystems of Latin America. Her growing interest in understanding and promoting sustainable human-nature interactions lead her to Mundus Urbano, which inspired and empowered her ongoing projects. She continues as a researcher in urban topics at the university, and recently founded Urbánica, an environmental consultancy group for the design and implementation of ecological urban development strategies in Puerto Rico working mainly on climate change, food and transportation issues.

Kara Siahaan, Indonesia

Kara holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Pennsylvania State University. She has substantial work experience in the field of disaster management for the French Red Cross in Indonesia. Her work mainly focussed on capacity building for disaster risk reduction.

Maria Ustinova, Russia

Public Administration
Maria holds a Master degree in Public Administration from the Higher School of Economics (Moscow, 2006). She has worked as a lead expert at the Ministry for Territorial Affairs of Moscow Region and as a teaching assistant at the Faculty of Public Administration of the Higher School of Economics. She completed Mundus Urbano at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, with an internship at the Transport Division of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in Geneva, Switzerland. She also worked as an expert for ECORYS-UK, evaluating the quality of the Eramus Mundus programmes in different European universities. Since 2009 she has become an active member of Erasmus Mundus Students and Alumni Association (EMA), which aims to create international professional and personal network for Erasmus Mundus graduates. In 2011 she has been elected as a president of the EMA regional chapter and she has been coordinating alumni integration activities in 13 countries of Eurasian region. Currently she is based in Moscow and works as an international development consultant providing research and related services to UNECE and ICUnet.AG.

Mbongeni Ngulube, South Africa

Mbongeni is an architect with degrees from the University of Johannesburg and the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He has worked in several architecture and urban design offices, on projects dealing with the redevelopment of South African city centers. He also recently founded his own firm to work on social housing design.

Visar Salihu, Kosovo

Visar is from Kosovo, he is an architect with a degree from the University of Pristina. He has gathered most of his work experience in the field of urban heritage preservation, especially the reconstruction of religious sites damaged in the course of the Kosovo conflict.  

Christopher Govers , Australia

Environmental Engineering
Since graduating as an Environmental Engineer from University of Newcastle (Australia) in 1999, I have been based in Australia, then Europe, working in transport infrastructure policy, planning and project implementation.  This has enabled me to develop strong skills in urban project management, but also to understand the socio-political dimensions of development in general.  I have always wanted to direct my career towards addressing global sustainability issues, in particular those that pertain to water and energy resource management.  The Mundus Urbano Master programme constitutes for me an ideal opportunity to learn skills that will help to tackle the global sustainable development challenge. 

Susanne Carl, Germany

I received my Bachelor of Science in Geography from the University of Freiburg in 2008. In my thesis I worked on Solid Waste Management in Urban Areas in West Africa, especially in Ghana, where I did some research. Before starting this programme I was doing  an internship at the DED (German Development Service) in Bonn. 

April Jaucian, Philippines

Legal Management
April has a Bachelor of Science degree in Legal Management from the Ateneo de Manila University and a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of the Philippines.  Her work experience, both in the corporate and in the non-profit sector, covers areas in business management, economic and community development, fund raising, research, and international affairs.  She is interested in pursuing an international professional career working with donor organizations and funding agencies focused on sustainable housing development. 

Md. Mostafizur Rahman, Bangladesh

Urban and Rural Planning
Md Mostafizur Rahman, sociologist and urban planner, is currently doing his doctoral research in Department of Sociology at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia with iMQRES grants. Moreover, he is one of the potential faculty members of Urban and Rural Planning Discipline, Khulna University, Bangladesh. During his MSc thesis, he kept his focus on exploring the coherent relation between food security and sustainable disaster risk management strategies. Also, he worked on a number of projects that bring together his interest in social protection, food security, social policy and disaster risk management.