On Friday, May 16th, Penn IUR and Penn’s Urban Studies Program hosted the 11th Annual Urban Doctoral Symposium in celebration of the achievements of five graduating doctoral students with urban-focused areas of study. The event featured presentations by the graduating doctoral students.

Stuart Andreason, a graduate of Penn Design’s Department of City and Regional Planning, kicked off the presentations with a summary of his study: “Will Talent Attraction and Retention Improve Metropolitan Labor Markets? The Labor Market Impact of Increased Educational Attainment in U.S. Metropolitan Regions 1990-2010.” Andreason’s work focuses on educational attainment in U.S. cities, and the nature of its impact on individuals and metropolitan areas at large. Ultimately, Andreason’s doctoral research concluded that economic development in metropolitan areas relies on multiple factors, rather than rates of Bachelor’s degree attainment alone.

Seung Ah Byun, of Penn Design’s Department of City and Regional Planning, presented “A Comparative Evaluation of State Policies and Programs for Nonpoint Source Pollution Control in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.” Byun’s work used qualitative and quantitative data to evaluate environmental policy across Chesapeake states. His research concluded that total maximum daily load (TMDL) pollution control policies have not proven sufficient in reaching the clean water goals set forth at their conception, due primarily to political and legal realities.

Jamaica Corker, a graduate of the School of Arts and Sciences’ Graduate Group in Demography, presented her study: “Urbanization and Demographic Change in Sub-Saharan Africa: Three Essays on Fertility and Child Mortality Differentials in a Rapidly-Urbanizing Context.” Corker’s work analyzed demographic patterns relating to fertility and mortality in rapidly-urbanizing settings of sub-Saharan Africa. A key tenet of Corker’s research involved her belief that the reliance on “rigid urban/rural dichotomy” in most demographic research can obscure and/or skew findings. Therefore, Corker used a more in-depth modeling system to account for cities of different sizes.

Amy Lynch, a graduate of Penn Design’s Department of City and Regional Planning, presented “Is it Good to be Green?: An Assessment of County Green Infrastructure Planning in Colorado, Florida, and Maryland.” Lynch’s dissertation analyzed green infrastructure planning across nine U.S. counties, noting how different approaches to the issue led to varied effects. The study concluded that counties with greater emphasis on green infrastructure planning ultimately do a better job of retaining their green space, and that landscape-focused and synergistic approaches tend to lead to the greatest possible preservation of green spaces in U.S. counties.

The final presenter at the Symposium, Claire Robertson-Kraft, from the Graduate School of Education’s Education Policy Division, spoke about her dissertation, “Teachers’ Motivational Responses to New Teacher Performance Management Systems: An Evaluation of the Pilot of Aldine ISD’s INVEST System.” Robertson-Kraft studied teachers’ influence on student learning and explored how to best evaluate and support teachers, while also maximizing their effectiveness. She analyzed the impact of teacher evaluation systems, using INVEST—a new teacher evaluation system in Aldine School District (Houston, TX)—as her primary case study.

The five urban-focused presentations were followed with a brief, moderated audience question-and-answer session. Congratulations and fine work by all of this year’s graduates!


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