Mai Thi Nguyen

Director, The Design Lab
Mai Thi Nguyen


Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen is an Associate Professor of City & Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Nguyen’s research is inspired by the goal of creating equitable and resilient communities through structural and systemic change. She is a housing and urban scholar who seeks to improve the lives of vulnerable and underserved populations. She is the co-editor of the Routledge Handbook on Housing Policy and Planning and has been published in over 60 journal articles, book chapters, and professional reports on the topics related to social and spatial equity. She is considered a boundary spanner, bridging social science, planning, and performing art, media, and digital humanities in her “In the Shadows of Ferguson” project that tells a 100+ year history of how housing and urban policies have racially divided U.S. communities. She is an award-winning urban planner, teacher, and scholar.

Dr. Nguyen directs the Center for Community Capital, a center dedicated to conducting rigorous, multidisciplinary research on human, social, and financial capital that advances knowledge, improves policy, and informs practice to promote more equitable social and economic systems. She also holds numerous leadership positions at UNC-Chapel Hill and in professional associations. She is currently the Director of the Academic Leadership Program, the Moore Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program, and the Equity and Resilience Lab at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is the former Chair of the Governing Board of the Urban Affairs Association and President of the Faculty Women’s Interest Group at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. She is the founder and administrator of Planners 2040, a Facebook discussion group with over 2,300 members who are urban planning and studies students, faculty, and practitioners across the globe.