PP&D alumni represent a diverse group of professionals, holding positions in both the private and public sector and bridging the gap between practice and academics. MURP alumni have built a strong reputation among employers throughout Southern California in fields that include transportation, housing, community development, environmental planning, land-use planning and other areas. PP&D doctoral students pursue careers in academia, business, government, and research institutions. PP&D graduate students have taken tenure-track jobs at highly-regarded research universities and have interned for organizations that include the World Bank, the Orange County Business Council, the Public Policy Institute of California, and the University of California UC-DC program in Washington, D.C.
Connecting with Alumni
The Career Center offers a networking tool through their website. Current students may sign in to get a listing of alumni and their interests; they are available for informational interviews and mentoring. The MURP Alumni Council seeks to promote mutually beneficial collaborations between the MURP alumni, students, and program. Activities include a mentorship program and social events, often planned in partnership with the Urban Planning Student Association.
Representative Alumni Jobs
Profiles From a Sample of PPD Alumni
Hilary Nixon, Ph.D. Alumna
Hilary Nixon is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban & Regional Planning at San Jose State University. "The faculty, staff, and students at UCI's Planning, Policy, and Design Department are unsurpassed. The level of support, encouragement, and mentoring I received while a student in the department allowed me to develop intellectually and professionally to a level that far exceeded my expectations."
Valerie Watson, MURP Alumna
Valerie Watson works for the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) as a Pedestrian Coordinator. She is embarking on the City’s first ever Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan, shoring up a Complete Streets Engineering Toolbox to expand the city’s kit-of-parts, infusing methodologies, metrics and a data-driven approach into the department’s activities, and formalizing a city-wide program, evaluation tools, and public interface for “Streets for People” design treatments that repurpose road space as public open space, including parklets, plazas, and bicycle corrals. Valerie, along with her colleagues in the LADOT Pedestrian Programs Division, works to promote implementation of pedestrian-focused design, develop active transportation plans and policies, establish effective partnerships within the City and with advocacy and community organizations, and secure funding opportunities to enhance safety for people who walk, bike and take transit.
Anne Taufen Wessells, Ph.D. Alumna
Anne Taufen Wessells is an Assistant Professor in the Urban Studies Program at the University of Washington, Tacoma. “My doctoral education at UCI provided me with the freedom and encouragement to develop an interdisciplinary theoretical approach to urban waterfront development and watershed management. UCI provides unique advantages for a developing scholar of urbanism: an institutional culture of interdisciplinarity, an extraordinary faculty, and a location that blows apart tired urban constructs of the singular, central city.”
Arlene Granadosin, MURP Alumna
As a community planner, Arlene is involved with a variety of projects for RBF Consulting’s Urban Design Studio. Her work includes policy and program analysis, housing needs assessments, resource and constraints analysis, community outreach, policy development and coordination with state and federal governing bodies. While a student in the MURP Program, she spent time working for Neighborhood Housing Services of Orange County (NHSOC), a non-profit organization focused on homeownership for low-income families and community development.
Rick Funderburg, Ph.D. Alumnus
Rick Funderburg is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate Program in Urban and Regional Planning at the the University of Iowa. “The planning program at UCI provides the right mix of practice and theory, quantitative and qualitative analysis, inductive and deductive reasoning I endeavor to pass on to my students. In my research and teaching, I draw on the experiences and challenges along the multiple dimensions of planning that characterize a rigorous education at UCI.”
Robert Nothoff, MURP Alumnus
Robert Nothoff is a policy analyst for Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD). As part of his job, Robert coordinates with local working-class residents and community stakeholders (including labor partners, local non-profits, and community organizations) to create and implement policies that will ensure that local economic development benefits everyone. In one project, he conducted a comprehensive survey of 524 families surrounding Anaheim’s Resort District and Platinum Triangle Development to assess the needs of the community. The results were compiled and recommendations from this report are being used to create new policies and help shape future development in Anaheim for working families.
Alexis Hickman, Ph.D. Alumna
Alexis Jaclyn Hickman is a graduate of the Ph.D. program in the department of Planning, Policy, and Design. She also holds a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from UCI, and completed a Professional Report entitled: ‘A City-State under Pressure: Singapore’s Housing and Policy Reform in an Age of Globalization’. The research opened her eyes to a variety of problems occurring in other globalizing cities in Southeast Asia. Alexis’ desire is to understand and contribute to the knowledge and practice of improving growing and globalizing cities in and current social and environmental conditions within. Alexis is concentrating on the significance of the parts and processes that make a livable city; her current research is focusing on environmental regulation in Bangkok, Thailand. "My time at UCI has not only provided me with useful training and education through my work with inspiring professors and practitioners, it has also has allowed me to personally and professionally utilize planning as a tool to potentially effect change at any scale."
Miryha Gould Runnerstrom, Social Ecology Ph.D. Alumna
Miryha Gould Runnerstrom studies the connections between physical and social environments, and human health and well-being. For her dissertation research, Miryha developed a new conceptualization of the positive mental health benefits that result from participation in creative writing activities. Since graduating, Miryha has been a lecturer for the Department of Planning, Policy, and Design, and the Program in Public Health at UCI. Her future plans include continuing her research and teaching programs as a university professor.
Bryan McDonald, Ph.D. Alumnus
Bryan undertakes original research, develops educational programs, and contributes to national and international policy discussions on topics such as transnational threats like terrorism and pandemic influenza, links between environmental degradation and peacebuilding, and food security and food safety. "My graduate education at UCI helped prepare me for the fast-paced and interdisciplinary world of international research and policy work as I help organizations at many levels navigate today’s changing security landscape."
Abishek Tiwari, Ph.D. Alumnus
Planning and Development Manager at VTA Consulting Engineers, Inc., adjunct faculty in the planning department at CSU Pomona and CSU Northridge, public health consultant (most recently with the Olin Group, a local firm specializing in “business development support for local organizations committed to social change”), and Economic Development Commission, City of Duarte. "UCI’s planning program strikes the perfect balance between inculcating the core research fundamentals essential for scholarly success and intellectual freedom necessary for innovative and original ideas. As a student, I always felt nurtured, encouraged and supported by both faculty and department staff. These attributes when combined with the excellent financial support offered to graduate students and the school’s proximity to Southern California’s famed beaches make attendance an almost foregone conclusion."
Wallace Walrod, Ph.D. Alumnus
Wallace Walrod is the managing partner of TCCG Tech Coast Consulting Group, a management consulting, strategic planning, and economic research firm based in Orange County that serves corporate, government, and nonprofit clients. He is also the founding president of the Center for a New Orange County, which plays a key role in shaping Orange County's economic future by leading a targeted countywide effort to design, plan and fund an integrated, cost-effective, state-of-the-art infrastructure system. He was formerly vice president in charge of research and communications at the Orange County Business Council.
Alia Hokuki, MURP Alumna
Since graduating from UCI, Alia has been actively working as a consulting urban and environmental planner in Southern California, joining EDAW Inc. as an Associate Planner in 1999. In her current role, she has been able to capitalize on EDAW's global practice for providing developmental assistance back to her native Afghanistan. On a recent trip to Kabul, Alia provided pro bono services to the Afghanistan Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, creating housing typologies and work scopes to characterize the informal housing which comprise 70-80% of Kabul's urban fabric. Alia has been active in various professional organizations, raising awareness of humanitarian and developmental issues in Afghanistan.
Dave Peterson, MURP Alumnus
Dave Peterson is a management analyst with the Field Services Department, City of Santa Clarita. In this position, he helps to oversee public transit, facilities (such as public buildings, signage, and street trees) and environmental services (including solid waste, storm water, sustainable development, and green buildings). Dave administers all the day-to-day operations of the department, including work of the field services department, the department budget, and monitoring how the department works and communicates with other departments in the city.
Roxanne Ezzet-Lofstrom, Ph.D. Alumna
Roxanne Ezzet-Lofstrom (Ph.D. 2002) is an assistant professor of economics, geography and political economy at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her research focuses on urban growth and the impact of development on quality of life. Dr. Ezzet-Lofstrom is currently conducting research on compensating differentials in land and labor markets, how homeowners and renters value their environment, the effect of homeowner associations on housing prices, and the extent to which high-skilled labor crowds out low-skilled workers from residing in desirable urban locations. Dr. Ezzet-Lofstrom was the recipient of the Urban Affairs Association and Sage Publications' 2002 Emerging Scholar Award, recognizing work that exemplifies commitment to research on significant urban issues.
Stacy Harwood, MURP Alumna
Stacy Anne Harwood (MURP 1994) completed a Ph.D. in urban planning at the University of Southern California, and is now an associate professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Professor Harwood's research explores participatory approaches to community development, diversity and the urban planning process, particularly in immigrant communities, and feminist analysis of the planning process.