Professor Ong has done research on the labor market status of minorities and immigrants, displaced high-tech workers, work and spatial/transportation mismatch, and environmental justice. He is currently engaged in several projects, including an analysis of the relationship between sustainability and equity, the racial wealth gap, and the role of urban structures on the reproduction of inequality.

Previous research projects have included studies of the impact of defense cuts on California’s once-dominant aerospace industry, the impact of immigration on the employment status of young African Americans, and the influence of car ownership and subsidized housing on welfare usage.

Dr. Ong is the Director of the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge and editor of AAPI Nexus, and has served as an advisor to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, and to the California Department of Social Services and the state Department of Employment Development, as well as the Wellness Foundation and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

He received a master’s in urban planning from the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. in Economics, University of California, Berkeley. Along with his quantitative research, his professional practice includes teaching and applying visual forms of communication.


Chhandara Pech is the Assistant Director at the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. His expertise is in spatial and statistical analysis. He has conducted extensive research on neighborhood change, gentrification, residential segregation, wealth/income inequality, and the foreclosure crisis. He was the lead data analyst for the Los Angeles component of the gentrification and displacement project. Chhandara earned his Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning, BA in Political Science, and has a certification in Geographic Information Systems from UCLA.


Daniel is a UCLA undergraduate majoring in Geography and double-minoring in Urban Planning and Asian American Studies. He is a research assistant at Center for Neighborhood Knowledge at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. He has worked closely with the Southeast Asian community regarding social issues in education, gentrification, and immigration. Moreover, his main research interests revolves around gentrification and urban displacement because he have experienced these social inequities. He is currently researching the gentrification effects on Southeast Asians in Long Beach as well as assisting with video production for a gentrification documentary.

Nataly Rios is a graduate student researcher at the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. She is currently pursuing a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree at UCLA and holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Chicago. She has experience in public health research, working on projects that address gaps in care for communities of color.  She is interested in utilizing research to support community efforts that increase affordable housing and access to transportation. She is also interested in using research to better understand how built environment inequalities affect health outcomes, particularly in communities of color, for people with disabilities, and for older adults. 

Lauren Harper is a graduate student researcher at the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from Duke University and is currently pursuing a Master of Urban Planning at UCLA. She has previously worked in construction for Habitat for Humanity as well as in the private sector as a transportation planner. Her interests are in using data to support affordable housing development, transportation access, and equitable communities.

Tracey Beltrán is a graduate student researcher at the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. For the last six years, Tracey worked as a political and community organizer in South Central LA. Working alongside Black and Latinx folks advocating for policy and systems change, she has been instrumental in expanding the reach of campaigns that secured vital funds and resources for South LA. Tracey holds a BA in Sociology and Latin American and Latino Studies from the UC Santa Cruz and is currently pursuing a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning at UCLA.

Chelsey is a graduate student researcher at the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. She is currently pursuing a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree at UCLA and holds a B.S in Marketing from Hampton University. She is interested in research at the intersection of sustainability, urban economics, and technology to understand how sustainable and economic development contributes to the prosperity and inclusivity of workers in the regional economy. She is currently researching the impact of Covid-19 on workers and local Industries as well as how post Covid-19 responses lead to a just and green economy.

Tiffany Green is a graduate student researcher at the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. She is currently pursuing a Master of Urban and Regional Planning at UCLA, where she explores ideas surrounding housing policy, residential segregation, and creating equitable systems for local government. Tiffany is also a Data & Research Fellow at Forward Through Ferguson. She has a background in business and theology, holding an MBA from Lindenwood University and a MA from Ozark Christian College.

Mary M.G. Nguyen is a graduate student researcher at the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. She is currently pursuing a Master of Social Welfare and Public Policy at UCLA as a first year and has experience in Asian American research study in mental health. She is eager and willing to learn how to combat the inequitable systems that continue to oppress communities of color in housing and medical/mental health care, as well as spreading awareness and giving voice to those who are constantly silenced.

Abigail Fitzgibbon is an undergraduate student researcher at the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. She is a third-year undergraduate at UCLA pursuing a degree in Geography/Environmental Studies and a minor in Geospatial Information Systems (GIS). Hailing from Massachusetts, she has experience working in political organizing, nonprofits, and organic agriculture. She has strong interests in cartography and data science, which she hopes to apply to graduate school and post-graduate career in public service. At CNK, she is passionate about applying her skills in GIS to understand how to build a more equitable Los Angeles, especially related to clean transportation access.

Patrick (he/him/his) is an undergraduate student researcher at the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. He is a third-year student with a double major in Asian American Studies and International Development Studies, and a minor in Education Studies. Patrick previously conducted educational research on the impact of involvement on Filipino American students at UCLA who are affiliated with on-campus student organizations, and how these cultural spaces foster retention through community building. Heavily influenced by his Bay Area upbringing and immigrant background, his main research interests include the educational experiences of marginalized groups and environmental justice for impacted communities of color.

Megan Potter is an undergraduate student researcher at the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. She is a fourth-year student pursuing a degree in Environmental Science with a minor in both Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences as well as Geospatial Information Systems and Technologies (GIS&T). Megan is passionate about environmental issues, specifically related to climate science and earth science. She hopes to use her skills in GIS to supplement these studies, as well as further explore the intersection between regional inequalities and community disparities present throughout California.

Victor Tran is a research assistant at the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. He received a BA in Sociology and Geography with a minor in Urban and Regional Studies. From his education and research, he is interested in examining how inequality and differences are constructed and perpetuated in spatial forms that can determine how different bodies and communities experience urban environments and processes. At UCLA, Victor was involved in organizations and social justice programs such as Alternative Breaks, the Vietnamese Student Union, and Southeast Asian spaces that centered around community service and engagement, education and advocacy, and intergroup dialogue and relations. Victor is from Santa Ana, California.

Zachary Hagen-Smith is a research assistant at the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. He is a second-year student in the Sciences Po UC Berkeley dual degree where he’s currently studying Economics and Society with a specialization in the Middle East and North Africa. From Los Angeles, Zachary is experienced with local political campaigns, media groups, and nonprofits. He is passionate about examining the financial and institutional roots of inequality, especially the legal underpinnings that govern housing in his hometown and state.


Silvia Gonzalez (Jimenez) is an affiliated researcher at the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge and is the project manager for Silvia is a senior researcher for community-based and environmental equity at the Luskin Center for Innovation. Previously, Silvia worked as the founding assistant director at both the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge and the Center for the Study of Inequality at UCLA. She continues to conduct research with CNK and serves as an expert with the UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative. She has worked extensively, as a researcher and consultant with nonprofit, community based, and government organizations on projects related to neighborhood change and gentrification, anti-displacement policies, environmental equity, and climate planning. Her research focuses on implications of place and the urban spatial structure on socioeconomic inequality and environmental health.  She holds a BA in Geography/Environmental Studies and  Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning with a focus on Economic Development from UCLA, and a PhD in Urban Planning also from UCLA.


C. Aujean Lee is an assistant professor in Regional and City Planning at the University of Oklahoma. She received her PhD in Urban Planning from UCLA. Her work examines residential segregation and racial disparities in homeownership, community institutions, and wealth, with a focus on immigrant, Latino, and Asian communities. She also examines nonprofits in providing social protections to vulnerable communities in transitional or uncertain policy circumstances. Her work has been published in Housing Policy Debate, Journal of Planning Education and Research, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.


Andre Comandon is a post-doctoral scholar at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. His research focuses on issues of segregation and housing in international comparative perspective. He recently worked with the Organization for Economic and Cooperation and Development and has written on Europe, China, Mexico, and South Africa. His most recent research focuses on segregation in the context of Los Angeles and the implications of  housing stress for segregation. Andre earned a M.A. in Political Science, a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning, and a PhD in Urban Planning from UCLA, and a B.S. in Economics and International Studies from the University of Oregon.

Manon is a critical urbanist, an organizer, and an interdisciplinary designer based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work centers on developing research and multimedia tools that demystify complex urban processes and put power into the hands of communities most impacted by urban injustice. She co-founded Landlord Watch, an organization that builds digital tools with homeless New Yorkers to combat housing discrimination, and has been an active member of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project since 2014.  Moving forward, she hopes to continue working with communities, organizers, and activists, to build people power for just cities. You can see some of her past work here.
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