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    Associate Professor; Director of Master’s Admissions
    205 New East
    work919.962.4762 (phone)
    fax919.962.5206 (fax)
    Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen's research focuses on social and spatial inequality, urban growth phenomena and governance, the relationship between the built and social environments, and socially vulnerable populations. She is currently the MCRP Admissions Director and the Housing & Community Development Specialization Director.



    Ph.D., Urban & Regional Planning, University of California, Irvine
    M.A., Sociology, The Pennsylvania State University
    B.A., Sociology & Administrative Studies, University of California, Riverside



    PLAN 704: Planning Theory

    PLAN 764: Community Development Techniques

    PLAN 799 (64): Diversity & Inequality in Cities

    PLAN 823: Housing/Community Development Workshop

    PLAN 52: Race, Sex & Place (First Year Seminar)


    Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen applies both her Sociology and Urban Planning degrees to address vexing urban and regional dilemmas.  She employs both quantitative and qualitative methods to examine problems related to social and spatial inequality, urban growth phenomena, the relationship between the built and social environments, and socially vulnerable populations.  She is an expert in housing policy, community development, economic development, immigration, disasters, and urban growth phenomena (e.g. demographic change, sprawl, and urbanization). Her work has been published in high impact peer-reviewed journal articles, edited books, and public policy reports.  Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Z. Smith Reynolds, and others.   She also teaches courses in the Housing and Community Development specialization and her courses emphasize practices and policies that can create transformative community change.

    Dr. Nguyen has held appointments as a dissertation fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, a Senior Research Associate at the Solimar Research Group, a faculty fellow at the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University, and a faculty fellow at the Institute for Arts and Humanities at UNC-Chapel Hill.

    In the Spring of 2008, Dr. Nguyen was selected to be a Faculty Engaged Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill. In this role, she worked on linking her research, teaching, and public service to collaborative community projects. As an engaged scholar, she is committed to finding ways to use rigorous research practices to help communities achieve their goals.

    Dr. Nguyen is also an award winning teacher. She was awarded the J. Carlyle Sitterson Freshman Teaching Award in January 2013 for excellence in undergraduate teaching.


    Building Resilient Regions project funded by the MacArthur Foundation

    Boulevard Homes HOPE VI Evaluation for the Charlotte Housing Authority

    Building Integrated Communities: an Immigrant Integration Project

    Disaster Recovery for Socially Vulnerable Populations funded by the National Science Foundation


    Nguyen, Mai Thi.  February 11, 2015.  When local law enforcement becomes immigration agents, communities suffer.

    Nguyen, Mai Thi and Hannah Gill.  2015.  Interior immigration enforcement: The impacts of expanding local law enforcement authority.  Urban Studies online. Request Copy.

    Nguyen, Mai Thi and David Salevesen. 2014. Disaster Recovery Among Multi-ethnic Immigrants: A Case Study of Southeast Asians in Bayou La Batre, Alabama after Hurricane Katrina. Journal of the American Planning Association, 80(4): 385-396. Request Copy.

    Nguyen, Mai Thi, Hannah Gill and Anisha Steephen. (Forthcoming). Community Planning for Immigrant Integration.  In Multicultural Planning in the 21st Century, ed. Michael A. Burayidi.  Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press.

    Lester, William T. and Mai Thi Nguyen. Forthcoming.The Economic Integration of Immigrants and Regional Resilience. Journal of Urban Affairs. Request Copy.

    Catherine Lowe, Rolf Pendall, Juliet Gainsborough, and Mai Thi Nguyen. 2014. “Ballot Box Planning: Rail Referenda Implementation.” Journal of Public Transport 17(1):75-98. Request Copy.

    Horney, Jennifer, Mai Thi Nguyen, John Cooper, Philip Berke, David Salvesen, Matthew Simon, and Kristen Ricchetti-Mastersen.  2013. “Accounting for vulnerable populations in rural hazard mitigation plans: Results of a survey of emergency managers.   Journal of Emergency Management. 11(3): 205-211. Request Copy.

    Nguyen, Mai Thi, Victoria Basolo, and Abhishek Tiwari.  2013. “Opposition to Affordable Housing: How the Debate is Framed and How Developers and Local Housing Actors Respond.” Housing, Theory and Society 30(2): 107-130. Request Copy.

    Nguyen, Mai Thi, William Rohe, and Spencer Cowan.  2012.  “Entrenched Hybridity in Public Housing Agencies in the United States. Housing Studies. 27(4): 457-475. Request Copy.

    Joh, Kenneth, Mai Thi Nguyen, and Marlon Boarnet. 2012. “Can Built and Social Environmental Factors Encourage Walking Among Individuals with Negative Walking Attitudes?” Journal of Planning Education and Research 32(2): 219-236. Request Copy.

    Boarnet,Marlon G., Kenneth Joh, Wally Siembab,William Fulton, and Mai Thi Nguyen.  2011. “Retrofitting the Suburbs to Increase Walking: Evidence from a Land Use – Travel Study.” Urban Studies 48(1).  Request Copy.

    Nguyen, Mai Thi and Hannah Gill.  2010.  The Cost and Consequences of Local Immigration Enforcement in North Carolina.  Center for Global Initiatives, UNC-Chapel Hill. Available at:

    Nguyen, Mai Thi.  (2009). “Why do Communities Mobilize Against Growth: Community Status, Metropolitan Hierarchy, or Strategic Interaction?” Journal of Urban Affairs 31(1): 25-43. Request Copy.

    Basolo, Victoria and Mai Thi Nguyen.  (2009). “A Comparative Analysis of Immigrants in the Housing Choice Voucher Program: Residential Choices and Outcomes in a Suburban Environment.” Cityscape 11(3):99-126. Request Copy.

    Joh, Kenneth, Marlon G. Boarnet, Mai Thi Nguyen, William Fulton, Wally Siembab, and Susan Weaver.  (2008).  “Accessibility, Travel Behavior, and New Urbanism: Case Study of Mixed-Use Centers and Auto-Oriented Corridors in the South Bay Region.” Transportation Research Record 2082:81-89. Request Copy.

    Nguyen, Mai Thi.  (2007).  “Local Growth Control at the Ballot Box: Real Effects or Symbolic Politics? Journal of Urban Affairs 29(2): 129-147. Request Copy.

    Nguyen, Mai Thi.  (2005). “Does Affordable Housing Detrimentally Impact Property Values? A Review of the Literature.”  Journal of Planning Literature 20(1): 15-26. (Top 10 most cited publication in the journal) Request Copy.

    Basolo, Victoria and Mai Thi Nguyen.  (2005). “Does Mobility Matter? An Analysis of Housing Voucher Holders’ Neighborhood Conditions by Race and Ethnicity.”  Housing Policy Debate 16(3/4): 297-324. (Featured Article) Request Copy.

    Nguyen, Mai Thi. (2004). “The Self-Segregation of Asians and Hispanics:  The Role of Assimilation and Racial Prejudice.” Race and Society 7(2): 131-151. Request Copy.

    Fulton, William, Rolf Pendall, Mai Thi Nguyen, and Alicia Harrison. (2001). "Who Sprawls Most? Growth Patterns Differ Across the U.S." Washington, D.C., Brookings Institution. Request Copy.



    Faculty Women's Interest Group (FWIG) President.  Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.

    Urban Affairs Association Finance Committee Member

    Housing Policy Debate Editorial Board Member

    Reviewer - Journal of the American Planning Association, Journal of Planning Education and Research, Journal of Urban Affairs, Housing Studies, Urban Affairs Review, State and Local Government Review


    Dr. Nguyen is a panelist at a forum on growth and affordable housing in Asheville, NC.  Watch the discussion.

    Dr. Nguyen gives a public lecture at Clemson University on Latino Migration to the South.  See Video

    Dr. Nguyen on WUNC’s The State of Things, September 3, 2014.  “American Tobacco Turns 10.”  Audio download available at:

    Dr. Nguyen's Public Radio Interview, WUNC’s The State of Things, July 11, 2013.  “Triangle Tenants Brace Themselves for Section 8 Cuts.”  Audio download available at:

    2014.  Affordable Housing in Asheville, North Carolina interview:

    Asheville Growth Forum

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