Meet Our Students 2017-02-13T13:15:27+00:00

Undergraduate Students

Emma Buchanan

I’m a senior double majoring in Public and Urban Affairs and Applied Economics and Management, and I’m passionate about rural community development. I’m from Glade Spring, a very small community in Virginia. I came to Virginia Tech having interned with Abingdon Main Street, an organization that helps downtown Abingdon, Virgina thrive. This experience introduced me to the opportunities I had to contribute to the future of communities like mine, and gave me additional context from which to consider what I was learning in class. I hope to continue at Virginia Tech in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program, and then work to help communities similar to my hometown.

Emma  Buchanan

Hunter Wyatt

My name is Hunter Wyatt, I am a senior double majoring in Environmental Policy and Planning and Agricultural Sciences. I grew up on a small horse farm in Sugar Grove, a small community in southwest Virginia. I am an avid hunter and fisherman, and enjoy hiking the Appalachian Trail. My primary interest in the program is in bridging the gap between agriculture and sustainability in a manner that is ecologically beneficial and promotes financial resilience and social welfare. I hope to help small agricultural communities understand how to sustainably capitalize on their resources, enabling them to serve as a model to promote sustainability in our capitalistic market.

Hunter Wyatt

Maria Elisa Vollmer

My name is Maria Elisa Vollmer, and I’m from Venezuela. Growing up in a developing country, I noticed how our many resources were often mismanaged due to lack of technical knowledge, poor policymaking, or not being a priority. This motivated me to study Environmental Policy and Planning at Virginia Tech. Here I learned about important tools to solve human-environment problems, with which I hope to mitigate environmental impacts due to development.

Maria Elisa Vollmer

Master’s Students

Beth Olberding

Hi, my name is Beth Olberding! I am from Richmond, Virginia and applied to the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program because of the opportunities it has afforded me to study and serve in the Peace Corps as part of the Master’s International program. I am serving in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica as a Community Economic Development volunteer (2015-2017). I was drawn to the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program because of my interests in both international development and environmental planning. I have been able to pursue both of my interests as a dual Master’s candidate in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program and the Master of Natural Resources program. I aspire to work at the nexus of international development and environmental issues focusing specifically on climate change policy.

Beth Olberding

Henry Ayakwah

My name is Henry Ayakwah. I am a Ghanaian born US naturalized citizen. I received my undergraduate degree in Philosophy from St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore. I started my graduate studies in the spring of 2016 in Urban and Regional Planning with international development planning as my concentration. I am interested in studying how rural small-scale farming can improve national economy and sustain the rural domestic economy in third world countries. I aspire to work with international organizations and third world countries in development planning and rural economic sustainability. I hope to connect well developed agricultural practices like those in China and the US with third world countries.

Henry Ayakwah

Nick Ruiz

Hello my name is Nick Ruiz! I’m from Richmond, VA, a city with more craft breweries per capita than anywhere else on the east cost (and I frequent several of them!) I am a huge supporter and enthusiast of passenger rail, and took a transportation planning focus while at Virginia Tech. If I’m not on a train, you can usually find me on a trail or bike. I am currently wrapping up my final semester as a Master’s student, and will be defending my capstone which looks at potential passenger rail expansions in Virginia. I currently work for the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, but have held internships at Amtrak and the Northeast Corridor Commission. Shalini Misra’s Theory and Practice in Planning class, while not transportation-related, had a tremendous impact on me and was probably my favorite class. I now look at planning from the point of view of the citizen which might not be well-represented in the planning process. I am going to miss all my professors, especially Ralph, who has been a tremendous help in completing my capstone.

Nick Ruiz

Nicole Boling

My name is Nicole Boling and I am originally from a small town in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I received my undergraduate degree in Geography from Shippensburg University. After two years as a County Planning Director in Pennsylvania, I relocated to Northern Virginia to continue my career as an urban planner. I am in my first year of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at Virginia Tech’s National Capital Region campus in Alexandria. I am interested in many aspects of the planning profession; however, I look forward to learning more about community development, sustainability, and urban design. I aspire to be a leader in the field of urban and regional planning and would like to learn how to better connect local communities to the planning process.

Nicole Boling

PhD Students

Huyen Le

I am Huyen Le from Vinh City, Vietnam. As a doctoral student in the Planning, Governance, and Globalization program (Urban and Environmental Design and Planning track), I am pursuing transportation planning research with a focus on travel behavior and choice modeling. My research explores the mechanisms behind individual and household’s decision to bike, walk, or ride public transit, as well as how to translate them into policies that promote sustainable transportation.
In this program I can work with experts in many fields, such as planning, engineering, behavioral science, and geography, among others. Not only can this bring diverse views to my research, it also reinforces collaboration with other departments and universities. Our Mood State in Transport Environments project in collaboration with Virginia Tech’s Department of Psychology and the University of Minnesota is a case in point.
What I like most about the program is the great flexibility in designing my own curriculum that directly serves my dissertation. I have been encouraged to take courses outside the program to expand my view. As such, I have developed my skill set towards experimental and quasi-experimental design, discrete choice modeling, and other econometric methods. This is also a great opportunity to combine my leisure-time interests in behavioral science and decision science into something tangible and helpful for transportation policy analysis.
Upon completion of my doctoral study, I plan to continue my transportation research in an academic setting. Besides deepening my current direction in choice modeling, I look to explore other areas of transportation and connect them to the planning practice, as well as translate these studies to a developing world context where travel behavior could be very different from that in the developed world.

Huyen Le

Tianjun Lu

Hi, I’m Tianjun (Luke) Lu from China and I’m a PhD student in the Planning, Governance and Globalization program at Virginia Tech’s main campus in Blacksburg, VA. My interests are bicycle and pedestrian planning and air quality monitoring. I’m a graduate of the Master’s program in Urban and Regional Planning here at Virginia Tech, and as a PhD student, I’m on a journey to explore the beauty of planning education. I hope to strengthen and improve the intersection between transportation planning and environmental planning, and to become a qualified and capable scholar in the planning field.

Tianjun Lu

Student Organizations

The Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) program has active student body groups including four student-run organizations from the undergraduate to the doctoral level.

UAPSA // Urban Affairs and Planning Student Association

The Urban Affairs and Planning Student Association (UAPSA) serves as the organization for students majoring in Public and Urban Affairs (PUA) or Environmental Planning and Policy (EPP). UAPSA provides a forum for discussion on issues related to planning, policy, and administration; sponsors, coordinates, or participates in community service projects; and develops and disseminates information on employment and career opportunities in planning, policy, and administration. All students interested PUA, EPP, Geography, International Studies, Architecture, etc. are welcome to join Urban Affairs and Planning Student Association’s Facebook page.

 

CASPA // Capital Area Student Planning Association 

The Capital Area Student Planning Association (CASPA) serves as the student organization for the Urban Affairs and Planning program at Virginia Tech’s Alexandria campus. CASPA aims to provide a creative and professional forum for the program’s graduate students to facilitate dialogue and friendship, while also providing resources and support from the university, faculty, and the public and private sectors to help students reach their academic and professional goals. Social and professional activities are held on campus or in the D.C. Metropolitan area. More information about the Capital Area Student Planning Association and upcoming events can be found on Facebook.

 

GUAPA // Graduate Urban Affairs and Planning Association

The Graduate Urban Affairs and Planning Association (GUAPA) serves as the student organization for the Urban Affairs and Planning program at Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus. GUAPA provides a creative and professional environment for graduate students to collaborate with peers, faculty, other departments, and the public and private sectors throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. GUAPA provides the resources and support necessary for members to achieve their academic and professional goals while at Virginia Tech. The organization harnesses student engagement at the Graduate level through regional and national conference participation (such as the APA Conference and City Works Expo), guest speaker lectures, academic research development, as well as social and professional networking opportunities. More info on the Graduate Urban Affairs and Planning Association can be found on Facebook.

 

PGGSA // Planning, Governance, and Globalization Student Association

The Planning, Governance, and Globalization Student Association (PGGSA) serves as the organization for students in the Planning, Governance, and Globalization (PGG) doctoral degree program. PGGSA serves students in both tracks of PGG: Urban and Environmental Design and Planning, and Governance and Globalization. PGGSA seeks to provide resources and support necessary for students across these two tracks to achieve their academic and professional goals while at Virginia Tech. PGGSA regularly hosts a PGG Seminar that provides doctoral students with advice and guidance relating to their professional development as future scholars and enables students to engage in a dialogue on some of the most critical contemporary issues facing society.
Virginia Tech UAP Alumni on LinkedIn

This is the LinkedIn Group for alumni from Virginia Tech’s Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) Program in Blacksburg and Alexandria, Virginia. The purpose is to create connections between and among UAP alumni and students.

Membership is open to UAP students, alumni, faculty and staff. If you would like to join please submit a request and have your UAP experience somewhere in your profile. https://www.linkedin.com/groups/3391187

 

Virginia Tech Urban Affairs and Planning Students on LinkedIn

This group serves to promote connections and facilitate discussion between Virginia Tech’s current and former students and faculty within the Urban Affairs and Planning program. https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7026177

 

 

VA Urban Planning: Virtual Career Fair on LinkedIn

The VA Urban Planning Virtual Career Fair provides a space for recent urban planning graduates and employers to connect to each other. Employers, post job announcements here. Graduates, under “Discussions,” post links to your resumes, and/or information about your interests, skills, and the types of jobs you seek. Please invite your VA Urban Planning connections! This page is managed by members of the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association Student Representatives Committee. https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7036612