Erik Finlay

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Erik Finlay

Department of Urban and Regional Planning
Assistant Scholar, GeoPlan Center
352-392-8686

Erik Finlay is an Assistant Scholar at the University of Florida GeoPlan Center. As an experienced geospatial professional, Erik supports research, teaching, and service at the Center. His research focuses on geospatial analysis, data management, and the development of decision-support tools for projects related to public health, transportation, and environmental and urban planning. 

Erik completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography and Master of Public Health degree at the University of Florida, as well as a Certificate in Spatial Analysis for Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. With his background in GIS and public health, Erik serves as a key team member on health-related geospatial projects at the Center. This work has led to several successful collaborations with UF faculty in the health sciences.

Erik is also an instructor and program advisor for the Online Graduate Certificate in GIS for Urban and Regional Planners at the University of Florida. As lead instructor for URP6278: Web Mapping and Visualization, Erik teaches concepts, techniques, and software for sharing and displaying geographic information on the web. He is also guest instructor for URP6275: Intermediate Planning Information Systems, and earned a “UF 2019 Exemplary Online Award” for his contribution to the course. 

Sam Palmer

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Sam Palmer

Department of Urban and Regional Planning
Assistant Scholar, GeoPlan Center
352-392-3246

It is with great pleasure that we introduce Sam Palmer, an Assistant Scholar and full time faculty since 2017, at the University of Florida – GeoPlan Center. Sam joined the Center as a research assistant in 2000, then became a full time employee in 2003. He earned a BS in Environmental Science in 1999 then MA in Urban and Regional Planning in 2003, both degrees from the University of Florida. 

Sam is an experienced geospatial professional that supports research, teaching, and service at the Center. He assists the Center’s Principal Investigators in management of funded research projects using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). He works closely with faculty, researchers, project sponsors, and external organizations to identify and assess geospatial problems, develop solutions, and present recommendations for resolution. 

Sam’s work at the Center spans a variety of topics, such as:

  • Geospatial data development, quality assurance/quality control of geospatial data, schema development, optimization of database performance, import and backup of data, and creation of database code to facilitate work flows within the database.
  • Administration and maintenance of enterprise geospatial databases to support funded research projects.
  • Collection, organization, and analysis of demographic data from the United States Census Bureau.
  • Assisting with administration of the ESRI Campus Site License for the University GIS community, including communication with campus GIS users (faculty, staff, and students).
  • Develop curriculum and teach courses for the Online Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems
  • Coordinate with public health researchers across campus to add demographic and geospatial expertise to their research projects.
  • Serve on the board for Florida Urban and Regional Information Systems (FLURISA) to coordinate and promote GIS activities around the State.

Emre Tepe

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Emre Tepe

Department of Urban and Regional Planning
Assistant Professor
352-294-1487

Emre Tepe, Ph.D. has joined the University of Florida School of Landscape Architecture and Planning for the Fall 2019 semester as an Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning. Dr. Tepe works on modeling spatio-temporal dynamics of land development. He also builds statistical software and applications for large-scale data processing. His primary academic interests include Spatial Econometrics, Urban Simulation, Spatial Statistics & Analysis, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Optimization, Urban Economics, and Software Development.

After graduated from Istanbul Technical University with a bachelor’s degree in urban and regional planning and a master’s degree in urban planning. He was awarded a Fulbright Doctoral Scholarship to study at the Ohio State University and he earned his PhD in City and Regional Planning from the Ohio State University. He was also received Patricia Burgess Award for the Best Dissertation upon completion of his doctoral study.

Prior to beginning his position at the University of Florida, he worked as Assistant Professor at Gebze Technical University for almost 2 years, and as Adjunct Faculty in Kadir Has and Cankaya Universities for about a year in Turkey. He has taught courses on statistics, quantitative methods, urban economy, housing and planning practices. Currently, he teaches Quantitative Data Analysis for Planners, Urban Spatial Analysis, Urban Economy and Urban Planning Project courses in the Urban and Regional Planning graduate programs at UF.

Yan Wang

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Yan Wang

Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Florida Institute for Built Environment Resilience (FIBER)
Assistant Professor
(352)294-3376

Ph.D. Civil Engineering, Virginia Tech
Master of Accounting, Asset Valuation, Beijing Jiaotong University
Bachelor of Management, Construction Engineering and Management, Beijing Jiaotong University

Dr. Wang’s research concerns resilient, smart, and safe cities. She studies the resilience of humans and the built environment to natural hazards and public health crises. She also develops data-driven intelligent system to enable agility in disaster and emergency response, and to detect small-scale crises for urban safety. Her research also engages evidence-based planning for urban resilience and data-informed infrastructure planning for future cities. Dr. Wang’s expertise includes multimodal data analytics (including natural language processing and computer vision), complex network analysis, spatiotemporal analyses, and real-time geo-visualization. Her interdisciplinary projects have been funded by the National Science Foundation (Awards #2028012, #1951816, #1760645), Natural Hazards Center, DCP Research Initiative SEED Grant and Global Fellow Program Seed Grant.

Daniel Downing

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Daniel Downing

Department of Urban and Regional Planning
Assistant Scholar, GeoPlan Center

M.A., Urban and Regional Planning, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 2016
B.S., Liberal Studies, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, 2000

Areas of specialization: GIS Programming Data and GIS web service development

Reginald Pierre-Jean

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Reginald Pierre-Jean

Department of Urban and Regional Planning
GeoPlan Center

M.A., Urban and Regional Planning, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 2011
B.A., Geography, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 2008

Areas of specialization: GIS development Programming and customization Web development

Laura Dedenbach

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Laura Dedenbach

Department of Urban and Regional Planning
Lecturer // Graduate Coordinator,
(352) 294-1493

Ph.D., Design, Construction and Planning, University of Florida, 2016
•Concentration: Urban and Regional Planning
•Graduate Minor: Anthropology
Master of Arts in Urban and Regional Planning, University of Florida, 1999
Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, University of Florida, 1996

Dr. Dedenbach received her master’s in urban and regional planning and doctorate in urban and regional planning, with a graduate minor in anthropology, from UF. Her research interests include crime prevention and the built environment, urban resilience, neighborhood planning, empowerment, effects of gentrification on neighborhood culture and stability, land use and comprehensive planning, and issues of land use compatibility. Dr. Dedenbach is currently engaged in research and service-learning projects in Gainesville and Atlanta. 

Dr. Dedenbach teaches classes in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, including:

  • URP 4000, Preview to Urban and Regional Planning
  • URP 4740, Housing and Urban Development
  • URP 4882, Defensible Space and CPTED in Urban Design
  • URP 4905, Neighborhood Planning

She also teaches a Quest 1 course: IDS 2935, “This Must Be the Place”: Place-based Narratives and Community Identity.

Prior to joining the URP Faculty in 2019 as a Lecturer and Undergraduate and Graduate Coordinator, Dr. Dedenbach was a practicing planner with over 23 years of experience, specializing in comprehensive planning, policy and development planning, and small town and rural planning, as well as being a recognized expert witness on planning and zoning issues by local governments, the Florida Department of Administrative Hearings, and Circuit, Appeals, and Federal courts. She has been a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) since 2001. 

Zhong-Ren Peng

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Zhong-Ren Peng

Department of Urban and Regional Planning
Professor/Director International Center for Adaptation Planning and Design (iAdapt)
352-294-1491

Education Ph.D.,Urban Studies, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, 1994 M.S., Economics, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, 1994 M.S., Geography, Graduate School of University of Science and Technology of China, Beijing, People’s Republic of China, 1986 B.S., Geography, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, People’s Republic of China, 1983 Areas of Experitise

  • Geospatial Information Systems and Analysis
  • Information Technology for Planning
  • International Planning
  • Landscape Planning Using GIS
  • Transportation

Teaching URP 6276: Internet Geographic Information Systems URP 6821: Transportation and Land Use Modeling URP 6905: Planning for Climate Change URP 6905: Urban Planning and Design Issues in China Research Interests Transportation and land use planning, modeling and policy Planning for climate change Information technology for planning International/China planning

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