Students 2010-2012

Jakub Galuszka, Poland

Sociology and Anthropology

Jakub was born and grew up in the city of Lodz, located in central Poland. In 2007, he received a Master in Sociology and in 2008, a Master in Anthropology from the University of Lodz. During his studies, he took part in a semester scholarship program in the Turkish city of Adapazari and worked in Glasgow, Scotland. Before graduation, he conducted research in Amsterdam, Paris, and Prague regarding the uses and design of their public spaces. For the last two years, he worked as a member of “EC1 Lodz – City of Culture”, a team dealing with the largest urban development project presently realized in Poland (reconstruction of an area of 90 hectares located in Lodz city center). After completing the Mundus Urbano programme, he plans to continue to work in the field of urban development with special focus on implementation of cultural and social aspects into spatial planning practice.

Saira Butt, Pakistan


Saira completed her Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Lahore College for Women University. After that, as partial fulfillment of her degree requirements, she took a an internship and later was appointed as full time consultant at Johns Hopkins University – Centre for Communication Programs. It is at this premier research Center that she became acquainted with the phenomenon of urbanisation. She belongs to the second largest city of Pakistan, Lahore, which has grown tremendously in the last couple of decades. There is a wide range of urban issues that Lahore is presently challenged with, e.g. gender insensitive urban development posed by uneven and unplanned growth, which is where her specific interest lies.

Alessa Bennaton, Honduras

Sustainable Architecture

Alessa was born and raised in the chaotic and interesting capital of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Participating in international academic practices and environments (Mexico, Colombia, Spain, and France) made her aware of the need to discover and encourage creative uniqueness. Having had the chance to approach and work with impoverished communities of the forgotten inlands of her country and others in the Latin American region (El Salvador, Mexico) enforced her will to offer her knowledge and experiences to make some change. Architecture and planning practice only have meaning to her if it they are projected in service of those in real need of innovative solutions. This program allows her to further her understanding and practice in subjects that she want to focus on and actively implicate herself in the following years.

Gülçin Baysak, Turkey

Tourism Management

Gülçin received her undergraduate degree in Tourism Management from University of Dokuz Eylül, Izmir, Turkey. As she was interested in tourism planning of regions and management of tourism destinations, she chose to study a master course with a specialization in “governance of a tourism destination” at the University of Valencia, Spain. Throughout her specialization and internship at UNWTO, she was attracted by urban tourism, cultural tourism, and meeting industry. After completing the master course on International Cooperation in Urban Development, she wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in urban studies and work in facilitating the cooperation of stakeholders in urban development projects.

Ragnheiður Einarsdóttir, Iceland

Environmental and Civil Engineering

Ragnheiður got a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental and Civil Engineering from the University of Iceland. She got insight into the technical and environmental aspects of the city infrastructure and is looking forward to broadening her horizons.

Silvia Carolina Aldana, Guatemala


Silvia got her Bachelor of Arts degree in Architecture from the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, where she took courses on urban planning and developed a strong interest in the subject. Working for the government, she had the opportunity to get in touch with rural communities and understood that many of the problems in cities do not depend on urban conditions alone, but on the development of a country as a whole. From that point, she got a Master’s degree on International Development Policy from the Seoul National University in South Korea. The program offered by Mundus Urbano will complement her preparation as an integral urban planner.

Ritu George, India


Ritu is an architect with a special interest in sustainable urban development. She hails from the city of Cochin, India. Her professional experience includes working with international firms in India and Dubai on healthcare design, green buildings, housing, and mixed-use transit-oriented developments; and with NGOs in India in the fields of low-cost construction and slum redevelopment. Her research interests include urban architectural anthropology, transport planning in developing countries and urban poverty alleviation. Ritu considers the Mundus Urbano Programme to be an ideal platform to delve deeper into the complexities of the urban landscape of the developing world and to exchange ideas and insights with a like-minded global community.

Sonam Lama, Nepal


Sonam was born in the remote corner of the High-Himalayas, and his experience in the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development-ICIMOD was the driving force to do research in International Cooperation and Community Development. Before coming to Europe, he worked in Nepal as a free-lance architect, community planner, international coordinator for an NGO, and managing director for his own trekking company. His future career goals are to advance community-based organization for the cohesive development of his remote mountain community and research on international cooperation and emergency architecture for disaster-prone cities in developing countries.

Eneida María Chacón, Colombia


Born and raised in Neiva, a medium-size city in southern Colombia, Eneida graduated as a lawyer from Externado University in Bogotá and did a specialization course in Regional Management and Planning at Los Andes University. Since her graduation in 2002, she worked for Bogotá City Council and was involved in different projects concerning urban planning instruments, public spaces administration, and land management tools. She has a special academic and professional interest in mainstreaming gender in urban planning. She chose to take the second year of Mundus Urbano in IUG, France.

Rafael Marcos, Spain


Born and raised in Madrid, Rafael is a graduate of architecture from the Polytechnic University in Madrid and has a specialization in Development of Human Settlements in Developing Countries from ICHaB Institute. He worked as an architect since graduation and has collaborated with the NGO Arquitectos Sin Fronteras in development projects in the Caribbean region. His main research interests are the housing question and its contribution to poverty alleviation. With Mundus Urbano, he is looking for a better understanding of world urban processes and gaining the competences to work in international cooperation and pro-people development. He chose to take the second year of MUndus Urbano in IUG, France.

Josephine McVitty, New Zealand

Environmental Engineering

Josephine graduated with a double BA/BE degree in Engineering Sciences and Economics from the University of Auckland in 2007. Since then, she completed a Masters in Environmental Engineering at Harvard University as a Fulbright Scholar and has been involved in a diversity of work and travel experiences around the world. This has ranged from microfinance and social business training in Bangladesh to solar technology research in Australia, and has provided her with exposure to cities and informal settlements in South Asia, the Middle East, Central America, and Southeast Africa.  She wants to use her skills to support the development of sustainable, more equitable and inclusive habitats, and minimise environmental impact while providing residents with improved living conditions.

Nazanin Mehregan, Iran


Nazanin earned her Bachelor’s (2004) and Master’s degrees of architecture (2007) from the IA University in Tehran. She started working as an architect in 2005, and continued her career in a prominent architectural firm in Tehran where she worked along all stages of architectural and urban projects including strategy planning, project design, development and construction documents, project coordination and implementation, in national and international levels. She has also taught Architectural Practices in IA University in Damavand, which brought her communication and management skills. She is interested in urban development strategies, based on cooperation, which enable the achievement of sustainable results and inclusive projects. In the future, she hopes to become an effective facilitator who can improve the meanings and advance upon the existing frameworks of urban development.

Ana Mitic, Serbia


Ana graduated from the University of Belgrade in 2008. During her studies, she was a member of many organizations and took part in academic and professional activities in several European countries (Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Czech Republic, and Montenegro). Her working experience started as a student researcher in Belgrade, at PAPS Organization, and continued in an architectural studio in Spain, where she worked on Urban Plans of Special Protection (Built Heritage of Andalucía). From 2008 onward, she worked on housing projects with general project management in Serbia. She also worked on the project of the New Nicosia Town Hall in Cyprus. She is interested in urban transformations in conflict environments, migrations and renewal of inactive and demolished city spaces, as well as eco-efficiency of urban areas and design of sustainable neighbourhoods. She believes that Mundus Urbano will give her valuable knowledge and directions for both academic and professional careers.

Sayan Radnaev, Russia

Land Use Planning

Coming from the Baikal Lake region in Eastern Siberia, Sayan graduated with a specialist diploma in land cadastre in Russia. Before Mundus Urbano, he worked for two years as a land use planner at the local municipality of his native Buryatia, one of the most depressive regions of Russia, which has strong resource, indigenous, tourist-recreational potential for economic development, but neglected by insufficient funding from the central government. Studying, living and traveling abroad made him think of working with development economics, introducing best practices of urban and spatial planning into land and housing development projects. He chose to take the second year of Mundus Urbano at Tor Vergata.

Akil Sokoli, Albania


Akil was born in Shkoder, Albania and studied architecture at the Polytechnic University of Tirana. Since graduation, he worked for six years at the Urban Planning Directory of the Municipality of Tirana, where at first he participated in partial urban planning, which varied from parks and public spaces design to the development of new areas with new residential and institutional buildings. Later he was part of the team for the new Regulatory Plan (land use, transport, regulations) of Tirana 2020. The diversity of the urban and rural environment, the inheritance of an old communist city, the phenomenon of informal areas and the city growing without respecting regulations, the challenge of the new technology, globalisation and sustainable development has been the pushing factors for his seeking capacity to deal with the issues of urban problems and management.

Melaku Tanku Gebremariam, Ethiopia

Geography and Environmental Studies

Melaku holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography and Environmental Studies from Addis Ababa University with a minor in Sociology and Social Anthropology. In 2007, he obtained a Master of Arts degree in Regional and Local Development Studies from the same university. He worked as a lecturer at the University of Gondar and in urban upgrading projects, gender and HIV/AIDS issues. He has been conducting research in the areas of urban microfinance and urban poverty. His interests lay in pursuing a career as a researcher in regional and urban planning issues such as rural-urban linkage, slum upgrading, rural-urban income inequality and urban and regional planning. He believes that the Mundus Urbano Programme will prepare him for further PhD studies.

Ana Teresinha Livi, Brazil


Ana was born in Porto Alegre in 1982 and graduated as an architect in 2007. Since graduation, she has been working with international cooperation coordinating community construction projects in Africa. In Liberia and Sudan, she dealt with school construction, water and sanitation, human resource management and cooperation with other NGO’s and local authorities. Also she has experience as a project designer- creating, designing and presenting projects for several construction companies and local governments in Brazil. The Mundus Urbano programme gives her the opportunity to study the work that she has been doing from an academic perspective, sharing experiences and getting more knowledge to form the foundation for practical work in the field.

Gunther Stoll, Germany

Urban Planning

Gunther was born and raised in the rural countryside of Southern Germany. He graduated in 2006 at the University of Economics and Environment of Nürtingen-Geislingen with distinction as an engineer in urban planning, specializing in urban development and project management. As his studies progressed, he broadened his perspective of the process of global urbanisation and migration on people’s living conditions. Over the past ten years, his academic career and work experiences with NGOs, environmental organizations, local initiatives, and academic institutions in multidisciplinary and multicultural teams in Europe and abroad have enabled him to work beyond borders and cultures. The Mundus Urbano programme, with its objectives to promote the linkages between theory and practice through action-oriented research, participatory approaches and multi-sectoral cooperation, provides him a great opportunity to make a positive contribution to a more sustainable and equitable development.

Alastair Upton, New Zealand


Alastair is a graduate of architecture from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. During his studies, he took a one-year exchange in Berkeley, California. After graduating, he spent six months working at Abhikram Architecture, Ahmedabad. This was followed by an independent design-build project, constructing an educational building for a South Indian NGO. He has been worked in a architecture practice in Wellington, involved in the sketch design for new cycle-way infrastructure across the city and also assisted teaching design studios in the Landscape Architecture programme at Victoria University.

Benjarus Wattanapichedpong, Thailand


Benjarus is from Bangkok and graduated with B.Sc. in Architecture from Chulalongkorn University. She has worked in architectural projects around East and Southeast Asian countries, which allowed her to understand the significant urban development progress in the region. Consequently, she decided to continue her education in Mundus Urbano to develop her perspectives on the field of international cooperation, urban and economic developments. She chose to take the second year of the programme at Tor Vergata, Italy.

Diah Zahara, Indonesia

Informatics Engineer

After obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in Informatics Engineering, she joined an international NGO for Tsunami Relief Program in her hometown of Aceh. She worked with communities for reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts to restore infrastructure and livelihoods. Through this experience, she gained knowledge through practice on cases of development between communities and the government. Her longing for further formal education and contribution for advanced development of her country has taken her to Mundus Urbano, which offers hera great entry point for the realm of development. Recently, she joined the German International Cooperation Agency in Jakarta as an intern for the Decentralization as Contribution to Good Governance.