Ariana Markowitz

Research Assistant

Ariana is a research assistant in urban policy modeling in the Lab’s Vaccinating the Nexus project which seeks to understand how cities perceive the risk of crisis and learn from experience. As a PhD student in UCL’s Development Planning Unit at the Bartlett, she studies these processes through the lenses of security and design.


After earning a BA in Political Science and Middle East Studies from McGill University in Montreal, including half a year in Beirut, Ariana moved to Washington, DC to work in counterterrorism. Within a few years, however, she found that she was more interested in the causes and effects of violence than in its tactics, and embarked upon a string of consulting jobs in international development first in West Africa and then in Latin America. She later began working with a Princeton University think tank that investigates public sector reform in the Global South. In the course of this research, most of which focused on police reform in Mexico, an interview with the former mayor of Mexico City prompted Ariana to consider socio-spatial approaches to security. Two years later she arrived at UCL as an MSc student in Building and Urban Design in Development to explore the relationship between urban design and violence.


Now as a doctoral researcher, Ariana is examining how dangerous places are made. Using San Salvador’s central market as a case study, Ariana is developing an audiovisual “vocabulary” to describe the ways that people instill, express, and metabolize fear.