Research Coordinator

Rachel C. Leonard, Research Coordinator, received her MLA and MURP degrees from the University of Michigan in 2018. During her graduate studies she was a Dow Sustainability Fellow, a Rackham Merit Fellow, a Margaret Dow Towsley Scholar, and President of the Student Chapter ASLA. Rachel was a Graduate Student Instructor at the School for Environment and Sustainability and Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and a Graduate Student Research Assistant in instructor Joan Nassauer's Landscape Ecology Perception and Design Lab. Her graduate work was honored with the Landscape Architecture Faculty Award, the ASLA Certificate of Merit, and the Anthony and Johanna van Sweden Landscape Architecture Award. Rachel holds a BFA with a concentration in industrial design and public art from the Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan and she studied product design at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim. To better integrate this background in art and design with her interests in cultural sustainability and community development, she worked as a programmer for the Center for Educational Outreach at the University of Michigan and served as a Health Extension Agent for the Peace Corps in rural Tanzania. Rachel is interested in community participation, environmental psychology, and global and comparative issues in the planning and design of healthy, vibrant, socially-just communities.

PhD Candidates

Yuanqiu Feng, PhD Candidate, received her concurrent BA in Architecture and a Master of Landscape Architecture from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2015. Prior to entering the PhD program at SNRE, she was an instructor in the MLA program at NUS, where she assisted in teaching design studio and urban ecology courses. She is broadly interested in issues surrounding urban green spaces and ecological design approaches for tropical cities. Yuanqiu's studies are supported by the NUS Overseas Graduate Scholarship.


Jiayang Li, PhD Pre-Candidate, received her BE in Landscape Architecture from Tongji University in Shanghai, China, and her Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Michigan. During her master’s studies, she worked part-time at SmithGroupJJR Ann Arbor office on landscape design and planning projects in Michigan and Ohio. She also served as a graduate student instructor for a number of design studios in the MLA program. Jiayang is interested in exploring how green infrastructure can improve the quality of urban spaces and promote the well-being of urban residents in a fast-changing climate and society.  

Master’s Students


Yanling Mo, Masters Candidate Landscape Architecture, received her BE in landscape architecture from architecture school of Fuzhou University. She is currently a second-year student in the Landscape Architecture program at the University of Michigan. Yanling is interested in sustainability and resilience of the built environment in both urban and rural areas. She focuses to be a nature and society-oriented designer, exploring more adaptive methods of ecological design. She also hopes that her work will not only expand human knowledge of green spaces, but strengthen our ecologies and biophysical exchanges as well.


Soyoung Jin, Master Candidate Landscape Architecture, received her BS in landscape architecture from Purdue University. She is currently a second-year student in MLA at the University of Michigan and will be graduating this May. Through her studies and work experiences, she is interested in developing green spaces that are responsive to the human needs of both current and future populations with deliberate concentration on adapting to the effects of climate change such as floods and “urban island heat”. She believes that intricately designed landscapes of any scale can lead to significant improvement in the quality of human lives and in the development of much healthier ecosystems.


Yiran Shen, Masters Candidate Landscape Architecture, received her BE in landscape architecture with a concentration in urban design, public space making and renovation design from architecture school of Nanjing Tech University. She is currently a second-year student in the Landscape Architecture program at the University of Michigan. Yiran is interested in exploring how the landscape can play a critical role in shaping a positive experience of place with the premise of sustainability. She especially wants to focus on how to create or change a place through minor details or materials and plants selection or distribution to arouse a strong sense of place that can help enhance everyday experience and quality of life.


Neha Srinivasan, Masters Candidate Landscape Architecture, received her BS in environmental science from the University of Michigan. Through her work, she hopes to integrate sustainability into the operations of cities and the lives of their residents. Neha sees green infrastructure, ecological restoration, urban infill, and the creation of walkable, engaging communities as important ways to achieve this overarching goal. She would also like to utilize her background in science to help communicate data into design and policy decisions.


Chuyi Yin, Masters Candidate Landscape Architecture and Conservation Ecology, received her BA in Environmental Art & Design from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Prior to entering University of Michigan, she concentrated on interior design, landscape design and public art design. With increasing knowledge and skill in ecological design, Chuyi hopes to focus on integrate design methods with data-based assessment into the sustainable design, water management and restoration planning both in urban and rural areas. She believes that this will create a balance between social and environmental benefits.

Undergraduate Research Assistants


 Jessica Kahn, Undergraduate Environmental Engineering Student, is working on obtaining her BSE in environmental engineering from the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. She has participated in research in the past through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. She has also worked on a needs assessment project regarding water in a rural Ecuadorian community through the center for socially engaged design, and continues to work on several projects as the co-president and design subteam lead of Team Aquador, a student group at the university. Jessica’s academic interests lie primarily in water conservation and environmental protection. Her long term goals involve using engineering and policy to advance the sustainability of her community.

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Joseph Powell, Undergraduate Environmental Science Student, is currently working towards his BS in Program in the Environment (PitE) with a concentration in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan. After graduating, he plans to continue his schooling career at the university to pursue a Master of Landscape Architecture. Through his work, Joseph plans to research how urban residents visualize, utilize, and interact within green spaces so that it might be better integrated into their daily lives. Through the repurposing of vacant properties, installation of green infrastructure, and the creation of green attractions, he hopes to convert green living from an implied course of action to a way of life. With a background in conservation and restoration work, he also seeks to promote community engagement in environmental efforts.