Ariel Bierbaum

2015 Hellman Graduate Awardee

City and Regional Planning
UC Berkeley

Ariel Bierbaum is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of City and Regional Planning, where she focuses on public education, urban policy and racial inequality. Originally from New Jersey, Bierbaum has worked across the country for the past 15 years in the fields of community art and public policy.

Ariel’s dissertation examines the connections between Philadelphia’s school closures, neighborhood change and discrimination. “In 2012, the School District of Philadelphia closed nearly ten percent of its traditional public schools, displacing thousands of students, changing the fabric of neighborhoods, and transforming access to opportunity for families across the city,” Bierbaum explains. She uses qualitative methods to reveal how school closures correlate with distribution of resources and poverty reforms.

Outside of her studies, Bierbaum works as an adjunct faculty member in the Architecture and Community Design Program at the University of San Francisco and is a visiting scholar in the Urban Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, she serves on the Oakland Unified School District School Facilities Bond Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee.

Bierbaum is currently conducting research on the impact of large-scale investments on social mobility with Dr. Carolina Reid, the Hellman Faculty Fellow who nominated her for the fellowship.

“I am honored to be a Hellman Graduate Fellow. This kind of opportunity to meet other scholars — faculty and students — doing interesting and important work is one of the amazing things about being at a place like UC Berkeley. I get inspired and motivated by learning about all the research going on around me!” Bierbaum says.