Students 2009-2011

Lorena Melgaço, Brazil

Architecture and Urban Planning

Lorena Melgaço comes from Belo Horizonte, Brazil and has lived in Nowra, Australia and Weimar, Germany. She has a bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Urban Planning from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. She is an aspiring urban researcher and has participated in projects focusing on the use of low technology to introduce architectural concepts to future residents of social housing projects in order to provide them with discussion tools. In addition, she has worked to promote the use of local art as a means to community development. Lorena comes from a large family and has been strongly influenced by her father, a lifelong human rights activist.

Charles Marik, Tanzania

Urban and Regional Planning

Charles was born and grew up in Moshi-Kilimanjaro region, in the northeast of Tanzania. He acquired his B.Sc. (Honours) in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Dar es Salaam in 2004. He worked in Moshi Municipality, heading the Urban Planning Section, extensively in settlement upgrading, land use planning management, conflict resolution, community infrastructure provision, and preparation of strategic urban development plans. In 2008, he gained a Diploma of Environmental Management from TU-Dresden in Germany. His main interest is to acquire competencies to work on development planning, especially in international cooperation economics, to manage and steer urban development.

Lim Hui Ling, Singapore

Urban Sustainability

Lim Hui Ling is a multi-lingual urban planner and international cooperation consultant, based in New York City. She was most recently a negotiator at the United Nations on urban sustainability issues. She has 10 years of experience, spanning urban planning and design, place-making and international cooperation, including at the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore’s national planning agency. She was involved in the government’s land sales programme, public consultations, and planning policy and urban design guidelines review. She is currently working on a community-led rebuilding plan for a neighborhood in Brooklyn than was hit by Hurricane Sandy. She is also the adjunct Senior Assistant Director at the Centre for Liveable Cities, a think-tank on liveable, compact cities, where she curated and implemented high-level peer-to-peer learning forums and capacity building programmes targeted at Ministers, municipal leaders and other top decision-makers and influencers in urban sustainability. She has worked on international projects with multi-stakeholders in cities across Europe, Latin America, China and in the USA. Lim Hui Ling has a Bachelor of European Studies from the National University of Singapore and the International Program Diploma from Sciences-Po, Paris.

Le Hau Chau Huyn, Vietnam


Chau Huynh graduated with honours from Ho Chi Minh City University of Architecture. After that, she contributed to many architecture, landscape design and urban planning projects in Vietnam. Recognizing emerging urbanization and its related impacts in Vietnam, she aspires to be an urbanist, looking forward to finding solutions to improve urban living conditions. Mundus Urbano has helped her to obtain both the fundamental and updated knowledge, which inspires her pursue a vision for her future career and interests. She now takes part in the project ‘Megacity Research Project – Ho Chi Minh City’ with BTU Cottbus, Germany, as a research assistant. Her research themes focus on urbanization and climate change impacts on HCMC and other urbanised Vietnamese cities.

Jacob Hemmerick, United States of America

Political Science

Jacob earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Public Administration from the University of Dayton, Ohio. He has particular interest in city government, administration and planning. Jacob is also interested in social, economic and environmental justice issues. In his professional life he has worked as a Neighborhood Fellow, a real estate legal Practice Group Assistant, and as the Assistant Director of International Admission at his Alma Mater. He has done international volunteer work in India (as a teaching assistant and English tutor), Guatemala (as a laborer for a fair trade coffee cooperative), and Cameroon (as a staff leader for a cultural and service immersion).  With Mundus Urbano, Jacob looks forward to a productive and challenging career in urban development.

Carolina Guimarães, Brazil

Economics and Political Science

Carolina is a proud, energetic Brazilian with an extensive international background. She has had the opportunity to live in various places around the world (New Zealand, US, Mexico, Canada and Brazil), which have changed and broadened her perspective on various contentious issues such as poverty and economic development. She has a degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, where she lived for seven years. After her first graduate job (as an International Trade Analyst), she developed an interest in sustainable development. She worked for the past year as a Sustainability Coordinator for the University of British Columbia Student Society, implementing a strategy to decrease the ecological footprint of students, faculty and employees in the university campus. The Mundus Urbano programme bridges the gap between her previous work, academic experiences, and her future goals. Thus, she feels confident that this master’s degree will support her future as a socially engaged professional.

Janae Futrell, United States of America

Architecture and Urban Planning

As an interdisciplinary professional, Janae works at the intersection of fields including urban planning, ecological architecture, and natural disaster risk reduction (flooding, earthquakes).  Having worked as a consultant on post-disaster housing, land, and legal/regulatory issues for organizations including the International Federation of the Red Cross & Red Crescent (IFRC) and Caritas Germany (CG) in Haiti, she is well-equipped to develop disaster-related projects. In addition, she has supported the projects of the Earthquakes and Megacities Initiative (EMI) in the Philippines to become skilled in Disaster Risk Management (DRM).  She holds Master degrees in Architecture and Urban Development & International Cooperation as well as a Bachelor of Business Administration. Originally from Memphis, USA, she currently resides in Bonn, Germany.

José Luis Chong, Peru


A Peruvian architect of Chinese descent, he graduated from Ricardo Palma University in Lima. José completed his master’s studies in renewable energies, sustainable architecture and urbanism in Universidad Internacional de Andalucía in Spain. He became a professor of Urban Design, Human Settlements and Design workshop at Ricardo Palma University and of Sustainability in Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Along with his private architectural practice, he looks forward to applying his work experience into the context of urban planning and sustainable development.

Nicolás Cárcelen Espinosa, Ecuador


Nicolás worked at the City Planning Office in Quito, his hometown. There he lead a group of architects in the development of urban-architectural design projects (transport stations or community center), urban design projects (public space, parks, squares and also the urban area near the new airport), land use plans (for the new airport’s surrounding region), and strategic plans (bike routes’ system plan, green areas’ system plan). He also worked at PUCE (Catholic University), his alma mater, teaching basic design at the Architecture Department.

Adediran Yakub Abiodun, Nigeria

Urban and Regional Planning

Born in Lagos, Adediran has a Bachelor’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, and has been working as an urban planner since graduation.  He is experienced both in the civil service and private practice, as a researcher, urban designer and technical report writer. The diversity of urban and rural environment and the phenomenon of global inequality were the push factors for him to seek knowledge to deal with the issues of urban management.

Regina Orvananos, Mexico


Regina studied architecture in Guadalajara, Mexico. She has work experience in Venezuela and Mexico within the fields of public space recovery, strategic planning and sustainable urban mobility. Her work was significantly influenced by her experience in Caracas’ slums with the San Agustin MetroCable project. She is part of CITA, a non-profit based in Guadalajara, and has worked in the organization of the International Architecture forum COM:PLOT. Regina aspires to become an international urban consultant.

Rossana Poblet Alegre, Peru


Rossana was born in Lima and has professional experience in urban environment, informal settlements, housing, urban planning and land administration. She has worked in Cofopri as a World Bank Junior Consultant, providing technical assistance for the formalisation of properties in informal settlements in Peru. She holds a Master degree in Urban Renewal and was a member of Polis Group in Peru, Architects without Borders and Habitat International Coalition. Due to her interest in informal settlements, she had the opportunity to work in South Africa with the NGO Development Action Group, providing better living conditions for vulnerable communities, and in Kosovo with the United Nations supporting the Kosovo Cadastral Agency and in property rights issues. In Peru she worked as a consultant for municipal development plans and in the implementation of the Housing Subsidy Scheme, designed by the Ministry of Housing and Construction. Her experience made her understand the importance of participative process in urban development implementation plans and policies. Through this programme, Rossana wishes to rethink the urban questions and the way to reach a better urban environment in an equitable way.

Fazlur Rahman, Bangladesh

Urban and Rural Planning

Fazlur has worked in different development projects for five years before starting the Mundus Urbano programme. His major work areas are urban transport planning, transport infrastructure investment, traffic modeling, social assessment for infrastructure projects, policy and planning for transport sub-sectors, land use planning, disaster management, institution development, low-income housing, urban governance and GIS. He completed his Bachelor’s degree of Urban and Rural Planning Degree from Khulna University. Before starting MU, he worked in Bangladesh with WSP Inc. as a Transport Planner. He believes Mundus Urbano helped him to acquire the versatility needed to reach his full potential as an urban planning professional with solid theoretical background and strong real world experience. He intends to work for sustainable urban development in developing countries to create better and more just societies.

Rajesh Rajasekharan, India


He received his training as an architect from a design institute in India. For him, the process of learning design was more based on his understanding of the relation between human life and varied attributes and aspects of built and non-built environments, which he always sought to enhance through research and studies. For him, to be a part of Mundus Urbano, was not just to enlarge his scope of employment but an opportunity towards advanced learning of varied issues related to urban development. He strongly believes in all the aspects of life connected to and rooted in understanding and interpreting knowledge as a value and goal.

Tara Saharan, India


Tara’s background is in architecture and urban planning. Working in India for two years has given her a sound understanding of the dynamics in planning. She hopes to build on these to achieve her goal of undertaking research in urban-related issues. She strongly believes that this master’s course can offer a vibrant context for stimulating research, discussion and understanding of urban issues with a global perspective.

Greta Sanches Correa, Brazil

Architecture and Urban Planning

Greta is originally from Piracicaba, a mid-size city located in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, and has a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Urban planning from the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp). One year before completing Mundus Urbano, she worked on decentralized cooperation projects between emerging countries, focused on urban and housing policies. She believes that local governments, especially those going through a rapid urbanization processes, have valuable knowledge that need to be unlocked and shared. She currently lives in France and works as an urban planning consultant for an international local government organization.

Sae-Min Shim, Korea


Sae-Min comes from Incheon, located 28 km from the capital of the Republic of Korea, Seoul. Her educational background is in architecture. In 2007, she started her master’s degree at Sogang Graduate School of International Studies, to specialize in International Relations in Seoul. Her professional experience ranges from architectural companies where she got involved in New Town development projects in Korea and a CBD development project including a 60-story financial tower in Ho Chi Minh City to a Climate Initiative of the Clinton Foundation, where she worked as a program assistant to help the Seoul City Government to develop climate-friendly policies and the Positive Urban Development Project. Her strong belief that international development projects can be highly effective and fruitful if they are planned and executed on the city level led her to participate in the Mundus Urbano programme. Her research interests are African cities on the perspective of economic growth, and cities working together to tackle on global issues, such as climate change, food crisis, and so on.

Kari Smith, United States of America

Business Management

Prior to pursuing her M.Sc. through the Mundus Urbano programme, she was working in the urban environment from an NGO perspective in Baltimore, Maryland in the United States. Her previous education is in Business Management and her professional experience is in non-profit program development and administration, specifically in urban agriculture, public parks, urban and community forestry, and schoolyard and public housing greening. Following the completion of Mundus Urbano, she will pursue her Ph.D. with a focus on urban resilience. She hopes to focus her future work as a professor and consultant on understanding and galvanizing the informal and unconventional in urban development and management.

Sema Isil Tanriverdi, Turkey

Civil Engineering

Sema graduated in 2008 as a Civil Engineer with a supplementary degree in Architectural Culture from Middle East Technical University, Ankara. However, she wanted to be more engaged in social sciences and to deal with complex questions relating to human behaviours and the global system. Consequently, peer education became a passion for her and she is still active in youth work whenever she can afford some time from her studies. In 2008, she worked with UNDP in Ankara in the Sustainable Development and Environment Department supporting projects on climate change, water management, land degradation and the protection of natural heritage. As a part of her studies in Darmstadt, she joined the Planungsverband Frankfurt-Rhein Main in Hessen, Germany to research on the regional planning of the region. Mundus Urbano was a perfect choice for her due to its mix of urban studies and development economics.

Ana Eugenia Urena Chaves, Costa Rica

Architecture and Urbanism

Ana grew up in San José and obtained her degree in Architecture and Urbanism at Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica. During her last years of studies, she did research in urban art, public spaces, and their potential to improve the quality of life for citizens. She believes that Mundus Urbano recognizes the reality of a globalized, unequal, diverse, and dense world. She is eager to learn under this premise and, more importantly, to apply and communicate the acquired knowledge on research and design from academic, governmental or private platforms.

Alma Varatanovic, Bosnia


Alma graduated at the Sarajevo University School of Architecture, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the summer of 2005. She wholeheartedly wishes to contribute to the overall growth and progress of architecture and design at large, hoping to bring a positive influence on how architecture shapes communities. A strong interest in architecture has compelled her to become very perceptive of the complex relationship between human beings, environment and the expansion of technologies. She started her career in an industrial design studio, at the furniture design department. After that she worked at several architectural and design studios.

Elkin Vargas, Colombia


Elkin specialized in Regional and Urban Planning with specific education in planning and management for conservation of historical urban centers. As a private consultant, he has worked in the conservation of urban heritage in city centers. Moreover, from 2007 to 2009, he was a researcher and teacher at La Salle University in Bogotá, Colombia. His expectations with this programme are to obtain proper knowledge and abilities to formulate, design and evaluate research and planning urban projects in participative scenarios, promoting social development and urban regional planning.

Alexander White, Canada

Biological and Environmental Engineering

Raised in Winnipeg, Canada by a family of medical professionals, Alexander (aka Ziggy) developed a strong interest in how the built environment affects public health, especially in the field of water and sanitation. After completing his studies in Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University (USA, 2005) he worked as a civil engineering consultant at an international firm in Seattle, USA, specializing in the area of hydrology and low impact development. He supplemented this experience with additional project work in South Africa, Ghana and the UK. By participating in Mundus Urbano, Ziggy seeked to gain a better understanding of the urban development process and complement his engineering background by specializing in Development Economics at Tor Vergata, to better manage infrastructure development projects in the future. His thesis was titled “Infrastructure for Development: Urban Infrastructure, Shari‘ah-Compliant Investments and Multilateral Development Bank Membership,” and currently he works as a project engineer for the Toronto Terminals Railway Company Ltd in Canada.

Luana Xavier Pinto Coelho, Brazil


Luana is from the city of Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, and has a law degree. She also took a specialization course on constitutional law, having focused her studies on human rights and democracy. For one year, she was an attorney in Ouro Preto’s City Hall, where she worked with public-private partnerships, especially with NGOs, and also cities’ consortiums for public services. For three years, she lived in Curitiba, where she worked as a consultant on public and administrative law. To her, Mundus Urbano can contribute to her understanding of city administrations’ complexity and the challenges for development from an interdisciplinary perspective. The international environment provides the opportunity to develop the necessary skills to work on cooperation projects worldwide.

Anatoliy Balovnev, Russia