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Introducing Leah Meisterlin, Term Assistant Professor in Architecture

What is your specific area of research? What are you currently working on?
My research focuses on issues of spatial justice, informational ethics, and the effects of infrastructural networks on the construction of social and political space. Additionally, my work concentrates heavily on the use and implications of data-driven research methodologies within architectural design practice. As a result, my previous work has ranged in specific topics from the spatial analysis of HIV-risk behavior in tourism-based Caribbean local economies, to the study of US federal policy, the development of the American suburbs, and the sociospatial distribution of economic hardship through the foreclosure crisis.

My current research analyzes community representation (and under-representation) pertaining to volunteered, collected, and sensed data within and about urban environments. This work attempts to stand on both sides of the 'digital divide' by increasing opportunities for under-represented populations to participate in the digital sphere on their own terms—including community-based mapping initiatives and the development of a web-based software for low-resource communities to map and analyze their local conditions—and by evaluating which populations and aspects of the city are excluded from popular 'big' cultural datasets.

What is most exciting to you about joining Barnard's faculty? What are you looking forward to most about being here?
Perhaps the most exciting thing for me is returning to the study of architecture within a liberal-arts context. My own undergraduate experience was at a liberal arts women's college, where I studied architecture and urbanism, and I am most enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with students who engage the design of the human environment with a perspective that looks beyond the buildings toward to sociopolitical, cultural, and economic contexts in which they stand.

What courses will you be teaching?
I will be teaching courses in the architecture department and urban studies program. This fall, I'm teaching "Architectural Design I," an architecture design studio; "Datascapes and the Informal City," a special topics seminar course in the architecture department on informal urban systems, data visualization, and 3D printing; and GIS Methods and Case Studies, the geographic information systems methods course in the urban studies program.

Outside of your academic life, any interests, hobbies, accomplishments of note?
Beyond my academic life, I am a partner in an architecture and urban-planning practice, and while I was at the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, I coauthored The Buell Hypothesis which was featured in and formed the research basis for Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in 2012. My interests/hobbies include a fanatical love of baseball.

Read more about other new faculty members.