CO-FOUNDER, Organisational Development Director
Max serves as Global Business Development Manager for Colorado Governor Jared Polis, where he leads the State’s economic development efforts across a seven industry portfolio, as well as in Europe and Latin America. He also serves as a policy advisor for the Hickenlooper 2020 campaign. His broader interests include the political economies and intersections of infrastructure systems, development finance, and urban planning. His writing has been published by Foreign Policy, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Harvard Kennedy School Review, Mongabay, El Comercio, China Dialogue, Wild, and Global Americans, among other outlets. Previously, he worked at University College London’s Bartlett Development Planning Unit, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Construction and Infrastructure Initiative, Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government and Saïd Business School, and in the office of the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado. He is a former Research Fellow at the Bank Information Center's China-Latin America Sustainable Investment Initiative and was a visiting researcher at FLACSO-Ecuador in Quito. He holds a master's degree in Development Studies from the University of Oxford and a bachelor's degree, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, in Political Science from the University of Colorado, where he was a Norlin Scholar. He was named a 30 under 30 Innovator for Urban Development by UN-Habitat in 2019 and a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum in 2017. Website | LinkedIn | Twitter
Guilherme Scardini da Silva
Latin America Coordinator
Guilherme Scardini is an architect and urbanist (Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Brazil) and Masters student in Landscape Architecture (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). Former research has focused on analysing urban mobility using transportation modals, focusing on new guidelines for a new development plan, and also on the therapeutical impact of gardens focused on healing stress and mental fatigue.
Prior to Oxford Urbanists, Guilherme was a Science Without Borders scholar, having attended a year at Szent István University (Budapest, Hungary - 2015/2016), under the Bachelors Course of Landscape Architecture. Also collaborated with the internal development sectors of the Universidade Federal de Viçosa, as an intern for the Landscape Design sector, and the Internal Infrastructure sector (respectively on 2015 and 2017).
Juan Sebastián Benítez Bustamante
Latin America Coordinator
Juan Sebastian holds a MSc in Integrated Urbanism and Sustainable Design from the University of Stuttgart, Germany. He is also a Civil Engineer from Los Andes University, Colombia. Through his academic and professional career, he has channeled his efforts and capabilities towards more just and livable cities.
His main interests focus on the design of sustainable and integrated planning strategies to address complex urban issues like poverty, informality, natural hazards, lack of social cohesion, urban and ecological degradation and lack of empowerment. He has addressed these topics through integrating participatory planning methods, placemaking strategies, urban experiments, urban agriculture or different mapping and data collection techniques, as main tools for development and triggering change. His additional 3-year-experience in the field of consulting for infrastructure projects in his country, has led him to build up very strong analytical and result-oriented skills.
Andrés Melendro Blanco
Latin America & China Coordinator
Andrés Melendro Blanco is currently studying mandarin and environmental policy at Tsinghua University in Beijing. His main interest is the spatial analysis of public policies. He is currently conducting research on China’s climate change adaptation strategies in light of its accelerated urbanization process. He is looking forward to contrasting them with Latin American experiences through Oxford Urbanists.
He previously worked as an editor for The Business Year, an international media group, as a consultant for UN-Habitat and as an urban development analyst at ProBogotá, a think-tank dedicated to fostering Bogotá’s sustainability.
He holds a bachelor’s degree cum laude in Political Science and a master’s degree in Urban Policy, both from Sciences Po Paris.
Carol M. Guerra
Latin America Coordinator
Carol holds a specialization in Managing and Financing Urban Infrastructure from the Institute of Housing and Urban Development Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam. She also holds a bachelor’s degree Cum Laude in law and social sciences from Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala. She has ten years of experience in researching legal and institutional frameworks to understand their impact on urban development. Working as a consultant for multilateral organizations, national and local governments, she has contributed in the formulation of policies, laws and regulations for integral urban development and affordable housing in Guatemala and The Caribbean.
She believes in the multidisciplinary approach to urban planning as a means to fully seize its opportunities for economic development and achieve urban inclusivity.
Alexia Faus Onbargi
Europe and MENA Coordinator
Alexia is an MPhil in Development Studies student at the University of Oxford and a fellow of the Spanish ’La Caixa’ Foundation to undertake her research. Over the past year she has been living in Beirut, working at both Amel Association International, and at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA). At Amel she was a journalist and an adviser within the communications department, traveling frequently to Syrian refugee camps in South Lebanon and in the Beqaa to report on the humanitarian situation. At the UN she produced original research on multidimensional inequality in the Arab region. She graduated from Durham University in 2016 in History, Politics and Anthropology.
Her main interests lie in the intersect between media, communication and development, the power of words and story-telling in shaping narratives on poverty, social justice and inequality and the effects of migration crises on urban development in refugee host countries, particularly in Europe and the Middle East. Born and raised in Barcelona, Alexia speaks native Spanish and Catalan, as well as French and Arabic.
Carl Hooks is a 2017 Yenching Scholar and an MA candidate in Economics at Peking University. Having grown up or studied in 11 cities across the US, Middle East, and China, he is interested in many facets of urban planning and design. He researches investment in Chinese "eco-cities" at the International Institute of Green Finance, a Beijing think tank, and was recently named a 2018 Local Pathways Fellow by the United Nations. Carl holds a BA in International & Area Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, where he focused on sustainable development and sociopolitical issues in both the US and China.
South East Asia Coordinator
Brandon is an MPhil student in Development Studies from the University of Oxford's Department of International Development. His current research focuses on contemporary networks of urban capital, technologies and knowledge circulating between Asian and African cities. He was previously a short-term researcher with the World Bank's Hub for Infrastructure and Urban Development . In addition, he has experience researching and writing on trade finance in emerging markets and complementary business interests between companies in Southeast Asia and Africa. He holds a Bachelors degree in History from the National University of Singapore.
South asia director
Mahak Agrawal is currently working on the issue of sanitation deprivation and climate change response across coastal districts of India, she has served as an expert reviewer to the Second Order Draft of the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land, and is a Local Pathways Fellow to UN-SDSN. Next to her contribution to the United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC) initiative, Mahak is specifically interested in climate change and urban studies investigating multi-track approach and inequalities of adaptations and transformations, development and geography, associated global challenges and human geography.
An advocate of open data for effective urban management, monitoring and response, she often provides thought leadership to the Young Academic Network of the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP) and the South Asia Centre at London School of Economics. In 2017, she was awarded the Prof. V.N. Prasad Best Thesis Award for best thesis in Master of Planning in India.
Annie is a masters candidate at Sorbonne Université in Paris, where she is studying geography. Her research focus is in urban geography and social cartography, and specifically the relation between access to different modes of transportation with daily mobility. Prior to pursuing a masters in France, she had diverse experiences, working on the 2016 coordinated campaign for the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania, then working as a journalist for a regional daily newspaper in Northeast Pennsylvania. She briefly worked for French publication, Libération, where she helped with coverage of the November 2018 U.S. midterm elections. Currently she is working at Autonomy & the Urban Mobility Summit in Paris as a content and communications officer. Autonomy is an annual event that brings together innovators and policy makers to change movement in cities.
Anna is currently studying an MPhil in European Politics and Society at Oxford and is working as Research Assistant for the SCHOOLPOL project with the Department of Education. Before this, she graduated with a first in Politics and International Relations at the University of Bath, with a placement year as Communication and Events Intern for the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation in Malaga. She has been a teacher in Russia and ran for city councillor in Italy. She has conducted research in international affairs for the Hudson Institute and is a member of the Italian think tank Tortuga, which is dedicated to evidence-based policy making. In this position, she has investigated how the European Union helps cities exchange knowledge and implement best practices through networks.
She is deeply interested in participatory politics at the urban level and international networks of cities as political actors, especially with regards to the European experience of cities coordinating to have a voice in the EU.
Lubna Elmahdy holds a bachelor’s degree Cum Laude in International Relations from the United States International University-Africa (USIU-A). During her studies, she undertook research on the role of women in post-conflict community development in urban areas with a case study of Liberia and South Sudan. She is interested in the interlinkages within the sphere of urban development, specifically in analyzing the socioeconomic factors which drive resilience and inclusivity of cities in the African context.
She is currently working in communications at the Stockholm Environment Institute - Africa headquarters, where she helps transform scientific research into human-impact stories. Prior to this, she worked in UN-Habitat as a digital media strategist, managing the social media platforms of the Executive Director. She has also worked in communications and events management at Nairobi Design Week, where she brought together African designers of all disciplines focused on human-centered design.
editor-in-chief, oxford urbanists magazine
Ed is an urban sustainability professional with a particular interest in mobilities research and urban governance theory. Ed is currently reading an MSc in Sustainable Urban Development at the University of Oxford part-time while leading development of a rapid transit project for Liverpool City Council in Australia. Ed has previously practised as a planning lawyer in New Zealand and Australia and, most recently, was Chief of Staff to the Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities in the Australian Government.
Paul Healy is a J.D. candidate at Yale Law School with a background in development economics (University of Oxford 2018, M.Sc.), and experience with McKinsey & Co., in Washington D.C. where he primarily served local government agencies and private equity investors on topics related to infrastructure, transport, and public finance.
He is generally interested in the spatial aspects of economic prosperity—the economic mechanisms and legal determinants that can explain why prosperity happens in certain places and for certain people. His master’s dissertation provided an empirical investigation of the effects of a highway network on crop markets in India. In addition to writing and editing for the Oxford Urbanists, Paul has published pieces with the International Growth Centre (IGC) and Oxford’s Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE). @phealy8 | Linkedin
Dr Binti Singh
Dr. Binti Singh (Ph.D.; MPhil) is an urban sociologist with expertise in urban planning, policy, and governance. Her current research engages with questions related to urban planning, politics, culture, climate change, and Smart Cities, and she is working on research and book projects with international institutions and publishers such as National Geographic, Deakin University, Springer and Routledge, Taylor & Francis, Business World, Domus India, and KKN India. She is the author of The Divided City: Policy and Ideological Contestations in Contemporary Urban India. Her ethnographic work on Lucknow was recently compiled into another book titled Lucknow: Culture, Place, Branding and Activism. Website.
Diana N. Huynh
Diana Huynh is a multidisciplinary practitioner of the built environment, continuously seeking to explore ways that build and sustain resilient communities, cities and regions. She is a former UN-Habitat intern, where she worked on capacity building, urban design and climate adaptation in Laos and the Philippines. Diana holds a master’s degree in Architecture and Urban Studies from Cambridge University and received her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College in Art History and Political Science, where she was a UWC Davis Scholar.
Georgia is currently reading for an MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy at the University of Oxford, where her research focuses on the intersection of development strategies in conflict resolution and mediation, multilateral diplomatic agents, and the impact of technological advances on international negotiations. In her previous research, she applied securitization theory to a critical discourse analysis of the language in the Brexit debate. Fluent in French, Georgia recently worked for The Carter Center in Atlanta, GA, serving as part of a team tasked with monitoring the implementation of the 2015 Peace Agreement in Mali. She previously served as senior editor on two editorial boards for foreign affairs societies. Georgia holds an MA degree in French and International Relations (honours) from the University of St. Andrews.
Michael is Senior Labour Mobility & Human Development Specialist with the UN Migration Agency (IOM). Within this capacity, his work focuses on improving governance of international labour migration, enhancing diaspora engagement in development, and facilitating immigrant integration in communities of destination. It is within this latter area that his work has most engaged with issues of urban planning and municipal governance, looking at how urban design and municipal programs may hinder or facilitate social and economic integration of immigrant communities. He is currently based in Vienna, covering the South Eastern, Eastern Europe & Central Asia regions and has previously worked for IOM in Cairo, Mauritius, and Bogota, as well as a brief stint with the Government of British Columbia.
Aaron Maniam is a Singaporean government official, currently working on a PhD at Oxford's Blavatnik School of Government on a Clarendon Scholarship. His research focuses on the digital transformation of governments, and other links between technology and public policy. He also has interests in the study of cities, complexity theory, communitarian political philosophy and deliberative democracy. In his government postings, Aaron has worked with the Singapore Foreign Service, served as founding Head of the Centre for Strategic Futures (an internal government think-tank studying long-term trends), taught at the Singapore Civil Service College, and led a team coordinating policy on manufacturing, services and economic transformation at the Ministry of Trade and Industry. He serves as adjunct faculty at the National University of Singapore's Scholars Programme, is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Commerce and Manufactures, and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.
Radiya is on the MSc Global Governance and Diplomacy programme at the Oxford Department for International Development. Having lived in dense cities her whole life, her interests lie at the intersection of environment, technology, and urban development. She previously completed her BA in Geography at the London School of Economics, where her dissertation examined the role, impact and effectiveness of civil society on urban conservation in Singapore.
Programs & Partnerships
Partnerships & PRograms Director
Aman Gupta is currently working for UN-Habitat, in their Safer Cities Programme, working on the best urban planning and design solutions to reduce crime (CPTED). He has an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Oxford's Department of International Development. His current research focussed on the political economy of the reconstruction of homes in post-Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico. Prior to Oxford Aman was Durham University reading for a BA in Geography, Economics and Politics. There, his research was on the flexibility of Modernist architecture in postcolonial India. He has conducted research on the commemoration of slavery in Bristol's (UK) built environment, as well as on developing a new street design that incorporates street vendors, in Hyderabad, with the Hyderabad Urban Labs.
Aman's primary interest is in the private financing of development projects. He believe that sustainable finance and ESG provides a growing and unique opportunity for development objectives (in particular the SDGs) to be met. Based in Hong Kong, Nairobi, and London, Aman has a global outlook and well placed to progress a number partnerships for the Oxford Urbanists. Prior to his current role, Aman led the Communications team, and has been with OU since 2018.
Projects & partnershipS Advisor
Gustavo Sbardelotto is an Architect and Urban Planner and holds a master degree in Architecture Urban Planning (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul). His previous research addressed urban regeneration, and changes in the socio-economic dynamics. His recent research interest is in the interrelation of the sense of belonging among inhabitants, gentrification, sharing economy, & new technologies.
He is the founder of Sbardelotto Arquitetura, an architecture practice based in Brazil collaborating on the Cais Mauá waterfront regeneration Project (Brasil). Beyond this, Gustavo was a part-time lecturer at ESPM (Porto Alegre - Brasil) and is a member of the research group “The project of socialising places and contemporaneity of the cities” lead by Prof. Lineu Castello, at UFRGS. He is currently living in London as has been accepted to begin the Urban Regeneration MS.c, at Bartlett School of Planning (UCL) in the next year.
Outreach & Communications
Outreach and COmmunications Director
Renata Carvalho is an architect and urbanist (Universidade Federal de Vicosa, Brazil) and lato sensu specialist in Sustainability of the Built Environment (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil). Her current research addresses walkability aspects surrounding metro stations in Belo Horizonte (Brazil Infrastructure Institute, 2019). Broader interests include sustainable urban mobility and transport terminus design, focusing on cities for people.
Previously, Renata was a Science without Borders scholar, attending a year at Kingston University (London, 2013-14). She has also presented research analysing local residential architecture and modes of living at the Congresso Internacional de Habitacao no Espaco Lusofono (“CIHEL”, Lisbon, 2013). She is currently a partner at the Architecture and Urbanism firm Toca in Belo Horizonte and a prospective Chevening scholar (2019-20) for a MSc in Transport and City Planning at Bartlett School of Planning, University College London.
Jacinta is soon to complete her MSc in Nature, Society, and Environmental Governance at the University of Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment, having completed research on urban boat-dwellers living on the UK’s inland waterways. She has previously worked with the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity on their ‘Children and Youth in Cities’ project, as well as with Durham university student magazine, ‘The Bubble’, as an editor. Having long-enjoyed sharing random online articles with friends, she is excited to now have a proper role title professionalising her ability to do so for an audience of hundreds of strangers around the world. She hopes to one day realise her dream of actually living in a city.
Tracy is our Strategy Director and is currently based out of Perth, Australia. She holds and MSc from the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford.