Meet  the  FCL  Team

dr. Clio    Andris  - LAB   DIRECTOR

I am an assistant professor of geography at Penn State. I teach GIScience classes at multiple levels. I was a postdoc at Los Alamos National Laboratory (2014), Santa Fe Institute (2012-2014), MIT Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning (2012), and Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) (2011-2012). I have a PhD in Urban Information Systems (MIT, 2011), MS in Geography (U. South Carolina, 2008) and BA in American Studies with Geography minor (Boston U., 2007). I was a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellow during my PhD and was a member of the Senseable City Lab under Carlo Ratti. I have been advised by Luis Bettencourt (SFI), Joseph Ferreira Jr. (MIT) and David Cowen (USC).
I’m originally from Washington, DC, and I live in Boalsburg, PA in a very old house. I'm Greek-American, I love my pet bunny and chickens.



Xi    liu - Graduate  Associate

I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at Penn State. I have broad research interests in urban computing, social networks, and complexity. Before working at the Friendly Cities Lab, I was a member of the Geosoft Lab at Peking University, where I received a master’s degree in GIS. My bachelor’s degree is also in GIS from Tongji Univeristy, with a minor of economics from Fudan University. My niche, methodologically, is a combination of data-driven techniques (e.g. network analysis, data mining) and geographical theories. My previous work focused on using ‘big’ geo-data to enhance our understanding of human mobility and urban structure. The topics I am currently working on including urban complexity, social flows, spatially embedded social networks, etc. I am trying to bring in more social perspectives into my research.

sohrab   rahimi   - Graduate  Associate

I am currently enrolled in the PhD of Architecture with a minor in Applied Statistics as well as the Master of GIS program at Penn State. I have been working with Friendly Cities Lab since 2015. My primary research interest pertains to interactions between humans and the environment from a socio-spatial point of view. Currently, my research focuses on using non-traditional data sources that inform us about the cultural and societal characteristics of neighborhoods and cities. So far I have been involved in a number of projects in this lab including: the environmental indicators of social capital, the spatial determinants of romantic relationships and the analysis of interior spaces of Airbnb units in 10 major cities, and  the effects of geographical space on candy taste in the USA.

Dr. Li-San  Hung - Post-Doctoral Researcher


I recently received my Ph.D. from the Department of Geography at Penn State (minor in Demography), and joined FCL as a post-doctoral research associate in August, 2016. I am a human/environment geographer with the research interests in human dimensions of natural hazards and human behavior in the natural environment. My dissertation research used a dyadic approach to understand household hurricane preparedness, and this study spurred my interest in understanding how interpersonal relations influence human/environment relations. 

Sara   cavallo  - Graduate  Assistant  


I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of Geography at Penn State.  I have MS in Geography from Penn State and a BA in Geography & Economics from Colgate University.  My research Interests are political ecology, agri-food studies, geographies of health, and mixed methods. What draws me to geography is its inherent interdisciplinarity and how it allows us to examine nature-society relationships through multiple perspectives and approaches.  Broadly, I’m interested in understanding the links between ecological health and human health, particularly through the lens of nutrition.  For my dissertation work, I am looking at plant disease in western Uganda and its relationship to food practices and nutritional attainment.  My previous work has revolved around the tea industry in Uganda and its connections to conservation and development via agroforestry policy and practice. 

Margret    Logan  -   undergraduate  Researcher

I have always appreciated technology, learning new tools, and creating things.  At Penn State, I am working towards my goals as a designer by mastering new technical skills, and exercising my brain creatively. I am currently a Junior majoring in Industrial Engineering. This summer I am excited to be working as a graphic designer and web designer for the Friendly Cities Lab.

Mengchen     wang   -   undergraduate  Researcher

I am a senior in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering at Penn State. I joined the team to work on topics in geography and to broaden my horizon.  My job is dealing with big data sets through programming and data analysis. I have learned a great amount so far. Though my work at FCL is outside of my major, I will extend the knowledge I gained here into my major and I will look at problems from another angle. It is a pleasure to work in the Friend City Lab.


Michelle    Pistner   - Graduate  Assistant (Igert Program)


I am currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Statistics and a first year BDSS-IGERT trainee. I have a wide variety of interests that bridge the gap between statistics and the social sciences, including spatial statistics, human interactions, data mining, and data privacy. Currently, my research centers on the movements of undergraduate students that have studied
at Penn State. A lifelong Penn Stater, I completed my undergraduate degrees in Statistics and Economics (2015). As an undergrad, I had the opportunity to work on some interesting projects, ranging from maximizing athletic ticket sales to quantifying social loss related to different diseases.


Prathamesh   Aher   -   undergraduate  Researcher

I am an undergraduate student in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering with minors in Energy-Business Finance, Geogaphy and GIS. I am pursuing my interests in Spatial Analysis and GIS by working in this lab as an assistant. I have been a part of this lab since Spring 2016, and have been working and helping with numerous different projects including the Hershey chocolate factory project which analyses the sale and consumption of chocolate in the USA. I will also be working on the upcoming Penn State Alumni network project.

Cassie   Mcmillan - Graduate  Assistant  (Igert Program)


Cassie is pursuing a dual-title PhD in sociology and demography in the Department of Criminology and Sociology at Penn State, where she recently received her masters degree. She is also an IGERT Big Data Social Science Fellow. She received her undergraduate degree from the The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill in Sociology and Statistics. Her research interests include health and inequality. She uses social network analysis to study adolescent substance abuse and other health risks.

LUBA Hristova -  undergraduate  Researcher


I am currently 3rd year undergraduate student in GIS. I have a lot of passion for GIS and the capabilities it has as a tool to visually explain different patterns and connections. I also love the outdoors, traveling, geography and everything in-between. I joined the team to discover more about social distance and the connections that occur across boarders. I'm really happy to be helping out!

RUIQI  (Bonnie) GUO   -  post-baccalaureate  researcher


I am a senior majoring in geography and minoring in horticulture and anthropology at Penn State. I have multidisciplinary interests, and my current focus is applying spatial statistics to analyze sociodemographic variables of trips. At FCL, I am working on a project exploring the correlation between the distribution of chain and independent restaurants as they relate to different aspects of the built environment different ethnic groups. It's truly a pleasure for me to work with members in the Friendly Cities Lab.


Brianna Jackson -  Graduate researcher

I am a third year student in the Criminology PhD program at Penn State, and a member of the Justice Center for Research . I hold a Master’s in Criminal Justice and an Advanced Certificate in Crime Prevention and Analysis from John Jay College CUNY, where I was a research assistant at the Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics studying sexual victimization, disclosure, and accountability within the Boy Scouts of America. I was a Tow Policy and Advocacy Fellow previously worked with the New York Policy Office of the Drug Policy Alliance, Research Foundation of the City University of New York . I am currently studying the structure and dynamics of a therapeutic community in a medium security men’s prison and a pilot project exploring rewards and incentives of legal and illegal work among incarcerated males. 



REBECCA BUCCI-  graduate  researcher


I am a third year graduate student in the Criminology and Sociology department. My interests include community sociology and criminology, social control and police-community relations. My current research explores differences in victim’s decisions to report crime, the role of segregation on victimization risk, and differences in community-level social control. I am currently working with the Friendly Cities Lab to explore the effects of community building programs in different cities across the region..


Christopher Mertz -  Undergraduate  researcher


I am currently a senior majoring in Geography with a focus in GIS and an interest in the social connectivity of cities. I have been heavily involved in research that aimed to help the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America determine how well they are serving the children in their communities. During the summer of 2017, I completed a summer internship at the Securities Exchange Commission as a GIS Analyst working with various sets of financial and geographic data. In my spare time, I love playing all types of sports and travelling to new places.