Current PhD Students

Sima Mousavi

Sima is a PhD candidate in the department of Law and Public Policy at Northeastern University. Her dissertation subject is “Law, Natural Resources and the Social and Political Behavior of Nations”. Her research includes, comparative constitutional and legal-systems analysis of selected countries based on the values of their natural resources in the global market. Sima is a lawyer in Iran. She has a distinguished her career concentrating on Law and Legal consultancy. As a lawyer she has worked on more than 150 legal cases for individual clients, mostly minors and women, small business owners, employees and employers. As a legal consultant, she has worked for Gamma Management Consulting Company doing research on issues such as law and human and social development. Some of her research topics are: Strengthening Democracy and Development Through Women’s Political Participation, Women’s Rights under Islamic Law, Gender, Religion and Social Justice, Legal Frameworks for Social and Economic Development Legal/Judicial Reform and Economic Development of Iran, Role of Religion in Turkish Constitutional Reforms.

Vijayeta Singh

Vijayeta is a PhD candidate in the department of Law & Public Policy. Her dissertation is focused on the ‘Politics of Dispossession’, particularly those accompanied by land grabs for coal mining. She is studying the role of agrarian structures, political histories, caste and class differences in shaping of the outcomes of ‘Land Acquisition’ for coal mining across different sections of project affected populations in rural India. She is doing a mixed methods case study of a coal-power project in India. She has administered a questionnaire survey at the household level in multiple villages in the state of Jharkhand to understand public opinion towards land acquisition for coal mining. Additionally, she has conducted in-depth qualitative interviews of three main stakeholder groups of coal mining projects- the project affected populations, the project developer and the government(s) in questions. Her goal is to record and understand issues in implementation of large projects requiring large tracts of agricultural land in rural India.Vijayeta has over three years of hands on experience working at the grassroots level and creating social impact in India. She has worked with several international development organization that are leaders in their field and successfully demonstrated her ability to create social impact across cultures and geographies. In her independent work, she has built international collaborations connecting US universities with social impact organizations in India. Vijayeta holds a bachelor’s degree in Business from Jaipuria Institute of Management and a master’s degree in Social Entrepreneurship from Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

Joshua Laufer

Josh Laufer is a PhD candidate in the department of Law and Public Policy at Northeastern University. He is deeply concerned about climate change, energy and resource depletion, and food and water security. He hopes to better understand how these challenges will interact with each other as they become more acute. Josh aspires to improve the resilience of the region to enhance social stability and prosperity despite these challenges. In Spring 2017, Josh began writing his dissertation, working as a teaching assistant for the undergraduate LPSC 2301 “Introduction to Law, Policy, and Society” course, and collaborating with faculty and other PhD students in contributing to the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute’s Resilience Governance project.

Vaishali Kushwaha

Vaishali is a PhD Candidate in the department of Law and Public Policy. Her academic and professional interest focus on examining the urban sustainability challenges in Asian cities. She uses interdisciplinary perspective, primarily concepts from ecological economics, environmental science, urban planning and civil engineering. Her analytical work draws on tools from system dynamics, network science and urban informatics. For her PhD dissertation, she is examining urban water supply sustainability in India. She is investigating cases of Ahmedabad and Surat, two rapidly urbanizing cities in western state of Gujarat, to study complexity of formal and informal water supply, map stakeholder participation and develop a sustainability assessment framework.

Vaishali holds a Master in Public Administration degree from Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore and Master of Science in Environmental/Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University. Prior to starting PhD at Northeastern, she has worked for over a decade in research, advocacy and consultancy in Singapore, India and United States.

Sahar Mirzaee

Sahar Mirzaee is a PhD candidate in the department of Law & Public Policy. She is involved in and associated with different research groups on campus, and is trying to take advantage of her quantitative skills and engineering background in the changing social sciences research paradigm. She is a very curious person and that causes her research interests to be broad and ever-evolving.

Her main research interests are social network analysis, data analysis, socio-technical and socio-ecological systems, Spatial data analysis, and generally wherever big data meets network science! She is also a passionate teacher and is currently teaching a graduate-level course on dynamic modeling for environmental decision making, where she helps student develop modeling skills as well as systems thinking perspective. She encourages them to think about the consequences of and the ethics involved in their modeling projects and decisions.

Hao-En Kao

Hao-En Kao is a PhD Candidate in the department of  Law and Public Policy. His research focuses on housing, transportation, gentrification and displacement with GIS technology and big data.  He is currently working on his dissertation about how and what defines the success of intra-city rail transit system in the U.S.

Before coming to Northeastern, Hao-En received his Master in Public Policy in Arizona State University, where his explored the effect of Light Rail, demographic movement and socio-economic status in Phoenix area. (He assisted teaching in introduction to Computational Statistics, GIS for Urban/Regional Policy and Economic Institution & Analysis) He also holds a Bachelor of Social work and Master of Arts in Political Science in National Taiwan University.

Saina Sheini

Saina is a PhD candidate in the department of  Law and Public Policy. She is interested in discovering the underlying patterns of urbanization and development along with urban sustainability and resilience through big data. She has done research on the resilience of the energy and transport sectors in the metro-Boston region under normal operating conditions and in light of a shock to these sectors, such as an extreme weather event, developing a network that captures how various agencies and other entities interact with each other.

She is now helping to develop a social media-based methodology for measuring and observing the social resilience of communities. Her Research Interests include,Sustainable development,Environmental sustainability, Sustainable buildings, Building Energy Efficiency,Renewable and clean energy,Assessing the level of sustainability in organizations and projects,Sustainable construction methods,Social and environmental sustainability implementation in urban projects,Urban sustainability.

Shiqin Liu

Shiqin Liu (Shirley) is a Ph.D. student in Public Policy in the in the department of  Law and Public Policy. Her primary research interests focus on regional economic analysis, creative economy, entrepreneurship development, and economic mobility. Her current research examines the spatial pattern of entrepreneurship activities and the effects of urban and regional factors on new firm formation in the U.S. Micropolitan and Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Shiqin has a great passion for researching urban development issues and is currently exploring her dissertation topic in the related field. In the future study, she will dedicate her research to help communities make better decision to stimulate economic development and improve economic opportunities and mobilities in cities.

Laiyang Ke

Laiyang Ke is a second-year doctoral student in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University, specializing in urban public finance, financing for local infrastructure, and urban informatics. Laiyang is currently working on a research project examines local governments’ decisions on adopting innovative infrastructure financing instruments. In the future, Laiyang will focus on the different financing tools employed by local governments and their implications on local communities. Laiyang is also interested in using large-scale urban data (like administrative records and naturally occurred data) to facilitate economic and social policy-making in metropolitan areas. For the last two years, Laiyang has been engaging in teaching quantitative research methods and statistical programming software like R and STATA.


Vivek Mishra

Vivek is a PhD Candidate at the School of Public Policy and his concentration is on Urban and Regional Policy. His research work is informed by his previous engagements with various NGOs and research organizations in India.Prior to starting his PhD, he worked as a Project Coordinator of India Exclusion Report 2017-18, the flagship publication of Centre for Equity Studies (CES), New Delhi.

He finished his MA in Development with a specialization in Public Policy from Azim Premji University, Bangalore, India in 2015. He completed my Bachelor of Engineering (BE) Degree in Information Technology from Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur, Howrah (erstwhile Bengal Engineering and Science University Shibpur) in 2010. He is interested in Urban planning and urban sociology, International development,housing policies for urban poor and labor and migration.

Marisa Sotolongo

Marisa was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina. She completed her undergraduate degree at MIT, where she dabbled in astronomy, nuclear energy security, climate change technology, political science, atmospheric physics, and human rights issues on the way to a Physics degree. Searching for a path that could begin to reconcile these various interests, Marisa began working for the Texas state legislature as a natural resources and environmental quality budget analyst. Marisa is a current Ph.D. student in the school of Public Policy with  a concentration in sustainability and resilience. She is interested in nuclear and hazardous waste disposal and cleanup, and land use issues as they relate to the intersection of private property and sustainability practices.