Our Speakers



The following list of confirmed speakers is but partial and due to changes.

As the program unfolds, we keep it up to date and will soon offer more information. 


Michael Batty


Emeritus Professor of Planning, The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Faculty of the Built Environment, University College London

Michael Batty is Bartlett Professor of Planning at University College London where he is Chair of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) and also a Turing Fellow in the Alan Turing Institute. He has worked on computer models of cities and their visualisation since the 1970s and his recent publications Cities and Complexity (2005), The New Science of Cities (2013), Inventing Future Cities (2018), all published by The MIT Press, and the edited book Urban Informatics (Springer 2021) reflect this focus on the applications of digital technologies to urban planning. He is a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) and the Royal Society (FRS). He was awarded the CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2004. He received the Gold Medal of the RGS (2015) and the Gold Medal of the RTPI (2016). He has been the editor of Environment and Planning B since 1982. The work of his group can be seen on the CASA web site: www.casa.ucl.ac.uk 


Solomon J. Benjamin


Associate Professor, Humanities and Social Science Department, Indian Institute of Technology Madras.

Solomon Benjamin is Associate Professor at the Humanities and Social Science Department of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India. He has a PhD from MIT’s Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, and an MS ArchS from MIT’s Dept. of Architecture. Benjamin was earlier faculty at the University of Toronto’s Political Science, a fellow at Gottingen’s Lichtenberg Kolleg, and Bangalore based National Institute of Advanced Studies. His concept Occupancy Urbanism shaping several academic debates is summarized in the 2019 Wiley Encyclopedia for Urban Studies. He is on the steering committee of the International Critical Geography Group (ICGG) and has been on the editorial board of Antipode. As a core member of the Frozen Fish Collective, he is presently editing with them, a book manuscript, Cities Untold: Negotiating spatial practices and imaginations in both English and Mandarin that combines texts with graphics photo essays.  Benjamin engages with critical art practice, collaborated with the RAQs media collective’s City as Studio, with the Delhi based CSDS’s SARAI Program, and a recipient of the HK based Asian Art Archive’s 15 Invitations. His recent work explores situated histories of land tenures entangling varied logics of territorial transformation, and researching the social setting of smart phone re-engineering connecting various ‘China Bazaars’ in Indian cities and towns to China’s Shenzhen.


Luis Bettencourt


Inaugural Director, Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, University of Chicago. External Professor, Santa Fe Institute.

Luís M. A. Bettencourt is the Pritzker Director of the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation at the University of Chicago. He is also a Professor of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago and External Professor of Complex Systems at the Santa Fe Institute.  He was trained as a theoretical physicist and obtained his Licenciatura from Instituto Superior Técnico (Lisbon, Portugal) in 1992, and his PhD from Imperial College (University of London, UK) in 1996 for research in statistical and high-energy physics models of the early Universe.  He has held postdoctoral positions at the University of Heidelberg (Germany), Los Alamos National Laboratory (Director’s Fellow and Slansky Fellow) and at MIT (Center for Theoretical Physics). He has worked extensively on complex systems theory and on cities and urbanization, in particular. His research emphasizes the creation of new interdisciplinary synthesis to describe cities in quantitative and predictive ways, informed by classical theory from various disciplines and the growing availability of empirical data worldwide.  He is the author of over 100 scientific papers and several edited books. His research has been featured in leading media venues, such as the New York Times, Nature, Wired, New Scientist, and the Smithsonian.


Yishai Blank


Professor of Law at Buchmann Faculty of Law, Tel-Aviv University

Yishai Blank is Professor of Law at Tel-Aviv University Faculty of Law, and the Faculty’s Chair of the Graduate Studies Program. Between 2011-2014 he served as the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs. Yishai’s areas of research and teaching include Local Government Law, Administrative Law, Global Cities, Urban Legal Policy, Law and Secularism, and Legal Theory. Professor Blank obtained his LL.B. and an additional B.A in Philosophy (both magna cum laude) from Tel-Aviv University. He clerked for the Chief Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court, Aharon Barak, and practiced law in the leading law firm I. Gornitzky & Co. Professor Blank continued his studies at Harvard Law School, where he was a Byse Fellowship recipient, and where he received his LL.M. in 1999 and his S.J.D. in 2002. He was a member of the Young Scholars in the Humanities and Social Sciences Forum of the Israeli Academy of Science and Humanities, and he is a two-times recipient of prestigious fellowship from the Israeli Science Foundation (ISF). Professor Blank was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, Cornell Law School, University of Toronto Law School, Queen’s University Law School, Sciences Po Law School (Paris), Brown University, University of Hamburg, and the Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law (Spain). Professor Blank’s works have been published in law journals in the United States and in Israel, including Stanford Law Review, Cornell Law Review, North Carolina Law Review, Harvard Journal of International Law, Harvard Civil-Rights Civil-Liberties Law Review, Fordham Urban Law Journal, the Urban Lawyer, Tel-Aviv University Law Review, and Columbia Journal of Transnational Law.


Charlie Catlett


Senior Research Scientist at the University of Illinois Discovery Partners Institute, Senior Computer Scientist at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, and Visiting Scientist at the University of Chicago Mansueto Instate for Urban Innovation.

Charlie Catlett is a Senior Research Scientist at the Discovery Partners Institute of (DPI) of the University of Illinois.  He joined DPI in 2020 after two decades as a Senior Computer Scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory.  He is also a Visiting Senior Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation. His research focuses on urban data analytics, urban modeling, and the design and use of sensing and “AI-at-the-edge” computing technologies embedded in urban infrastructure and the environment. He led the NSF-funded “Array of Things” urban sensing and AI-at-the-edge project, succeeded by a new NSF-funded effort, SAGE, to embed AI in environmental and emergency response settings. From 1995-2000 Charlie was Chief Technology Officer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, having joined in 1985 to work on NSFNET, an early component of Internet.  Charlie is a Computer Engineering graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Annelien de Dijn


Professor of Modern Political History, Department of History and Art History, Utrecht University.

Annelien de Dijn is a prize-winning author and historian. Her book Freedom: An Unruly History traces the different meanings of freedom from Herodotus to the present and was awarded with the 2021 PROSE Prize in Philosophy by the American Association of Publishers. She is also the author of French Political Thought from Montesquieu to Tocqueville, published with Cambridge University Press in 2008 and translated into Chinese by Sun Yat-sen University Press in 2018. She holds the Chair in Political History at Utrecht University.


Jesse Fox is a PhD candidate at the Porter School of Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University. His research focuses on knowledge in urban planning processes and how it is communicated on various online platforms. He holds an MSc in Urban and Regional Planning from the Technion, and a BA in Political Science from Tel Aviv University. He also teaches at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, and has a background in journalism.

Jesse Fox


PhD candidate at the Porter School of Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University


Carlos Gershenson


Professor, Instituto de Investigaciones en Matemáticas Aplicadas y en Sistemas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. 

Carlos Gershenson is a tenured, full time research professor at the computer science department of the Instituto de Investigaciones en Matemáticas Aplicadas y en Sistemas at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), where he leads the Self-organizing Systems Lab. He is also an affiliated researcher at the Center for Complexity Sciences at UNAM. He was a Visiting Professor at MIT and at Northeastern University (2015-2016) and at ITMO University (2015-2019). He was a postdoctoral fellow at the New England Complex Systems Institute (2007-2008). He holds a PhD summa cum laude from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium (2002-2007). His thesis was on “Design and Control of Self-organizing Systems”. He holds an MSc degree in Evolutionary and Adaptive Systems, from the University of Sussex (2001-2002), and a BEng degree in Computer Engineering from the Fundación Arturo Rosenblueth, México. (1996-2001). He studied five semesters of Philosophy at UNAM (1998-2001). He has a wide variety of academic interests, including complex systems, self-organization, urbanism, artificial life, evolution, cognition, artificial societies, and philosophy. He has more than 150 scientific publications in books, journals, and conference proceedings. He is Editor-in-Chief of Complexity Digest, Associate Editor for the journals Complexity and Frontiers in Robotics and AI, and member of the Board of Advisors for Scientific American. He has received numerous awards, including a Google Research Award in Latin America and the Audi Urban Future Award. He has worked in consulting, software and web development, teaching at undergraduate and graduate levels, and scientific divulgation and journalism.


Adriana Kemp


Prof. Head of the School of Social and Policy Studies, Gordon Faculty of Social Sciences, Tel Aviv University.

Adriana Kemp is a political sociologist and the director of the School of Social Studies and Policy at Tel-Aviv University. Her research focuses on intersections between labor and forced migration, citizenship and civil society and scholarship on the re-scaling of politics and urban governance. She has published over thirty refereed articles on these topics in journals like International Migration Review, Gender and Society, Political Geography, IJURR, Law and Society Review, Ethnic & Racial Studies, Social Problems, Urban Studies, Environment and Planning A and JEMS among others. She is the author of numerous book chapters, the co-editor of two collective volumes and the co-author of a book on Migrants and Workers: the political economy of labour migration in Israel. Kemp was a visiting professor at Columbia University, the Lipinsky Visiting Professor at SDSU, and the Chateaubriand 2020 Visiting Professor at Sciences Po. She has been invited to give testimonial in parliamentary committees on issues related to migration and has worked as a consultant for the OECD, among others. Her many civic activities include serving as the chair-woman of ACRI, the largest HR NGO in Israel in 2010-2014. Kemp has been a recipient of numerous research grants, including 5 grants from the National Science Foundation and 2 grants from the Ministry of Science and Culture. Her latest research project titled “Do papers matter? Legal liminality in the life-course of migrant workers and refugees’ children (ages 12-25) in Israel”, deals with the socio-political implications of precarious legal status on migrants’ and asylum seekers’ children and youth. Drawing on the Israeli case, she examines how new forms of legal violence intersect with policy frameworks, institutional actors’ moral evaluations, and migrant children’s future making. 


Prof. Dr. Sabine Knierbein is the Head of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space at the Faculty of Architecture and Planning at the TU Wien in Vienna, Austria. Trained originally in landscape architecture, she received the first Dr. phil. degree at the Faculty of Architecture of the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar ever in the field of European Urban Studies (s.c.l.). She also holds a journey(wo)man’s certificate as a landscape gardener. Sabine is a founding member of the Thematic Group of Public Spaces and Urban Cultures of the Association of European Schools of Planning.  She has worked in Argentina, Austria, Germany and UK, and has taught university courses in Paris, Rome, Stockholm, Thessaloniki, Vienna, Weimar and Zagreb. In 2020, Sabine held a Visiting Professorship for Urban Political Geography at the Dipartimento di Storia, Archeologia, Geografia, Arte e Spettacolo at the Laboratorio di Geografia Sociale at Università degli Studi di Firenze in Florence, Italy, where she focused on Geographies of Everyday Encounter. Her publications are available in German, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.  Her research interests relate to the city as a collective political and democratic project, recent theory of urbanization through the lenses of everyday life and lived space, intersectional urban research methodology in planning, architecture and urban design, ethnography of construction sites, concepts of truly open and public innovation, social inequality and disruptive urbanism, and to intercultural philosophy of science with a spatial and urban focus.

Sabine Knierbein


Associate Professor for Urban Culture and Public Space, TU Wien Faculty of Architecture and Planning, Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space, Vienna.


Ashwin Mahalingam


Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Madras.

Dr. Ashwin Mahalingam is a Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at IIT-Madras. Ashwin received his B.Tech in Civil engineering from IIT-Madras and and a M.S and PhD from Stanford University in Construction Engineering and Management. In between he helped start up an internet based company in the USA called All Star Fleet, aimed at providing asset management services for construction companies. Ashwin's research has focused on the planning, management and governance of infrastructure projects. Previous work focused on Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in Infrastructure planning and management, and the the use of digital technology to improve decision making at both project and regional levels. Ashwin is also a co-founder of Okapi Advisory Services Pvt. Ltd and serves as a Director on the Board.


Irad Malkin

Emeritus Professor of Ancient Greek History, Department of History, Tel Aviv University.

Visiting Professor, Department of Classics, Oxford University 2017-2022. Board of Directors, Ruppin Academic Center and School of Maritime Studies (2017-), Chairperson, Department of History, Tel Aviv University (2006-2008). Chair Holder: The Maxwell Cummings Chair for Mediterranean History and Cultures (2003-2019). Emeritus Professor of Ancient Greek History, Tel Aviv University. Director, Dan David Prize (2003-2004). Member of the Board of Governors, Tel Aviv University (2006-2008). Head and Co-Director of the Center for Mediterranean Civilizations Project (April 1999-). Co-Founder, Co-Editor: Mediterranean Historical Review. 1986-1991; 1997-2017. RECOGNITION: Laureate of the Israel Prize in History, 2014. EDUCATION: Ph.D. (1982): The University of Pennsylvania, Ancient History Graduate Group. BOOKS: numerous edited volumes and Religion and colonization in ancient Greece (1987); Myth and Territory in the Spartan Mediterranean (1994; French tr); The Returns of Odysseus (1998; 2004 Italian and Hebrew tr); Who is a Greek? Ethnic Identity (2004); Small Greek World (2011; French tr); Greek Drawing Lots (forthcoming).


Architect, PhD in Urban Planning, 2007, Tel Aviv University. Senior Lecturer and Head of Master Program, David Azrieli School of Architecture. Co-Founder and Chair of 'Meirim', NGO promoting on-line planning democracy and communication. Research areas- communication and democracy in planning, equality in housing and planning, pubic-private planning deals in Israel. Completed a research on planning objections and justification (with Prof. Adriana Kemp), and now advancing a research on the coverage of Israeli planning in the media, both funded by the Israeli Science Foundation. Published in Urban Studies, Cities, Environment and Planning A, Land Use Policy,  Planning theory and Practice, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, The Journal of Architecture, amongst other Journals, and in edited books and monographs, international and in Hebrew. Presented in numerous international conferences, and co-organized international seminars on urban citizenship and on housing as a human right.

Talia Margalit


Dr., Architect. Head of Master Program, Azrieli School of Architecture, Tel Aviv University.


Juval Portugali


Professor of Human Geography at the Department of Geography and the Human Environment, Tel Aviv University.

Juval Portugal is a Professor of Human Geography at the Department of Geography and the Human Environment Tel Aviv University. He is the former Head of the Environmental Simulation Laboratory (ESLab) and Head of City Center – research center for cities and urbanism. Juval Portugali received his BA degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, did his MA studies at the Technion Haifa, and received a London University PhD from The London School of Economics and Political sciences. His research integrates complexity and self-organization theories, environmental-spatial cognition, urban dynamics and planning in modern and ancient periods. His publications include some 100 research articles and 20 scientific books.


Sudhir Chella Rajan


Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indo-German Centre for Sustainability, Indian Institute of Technology Madras.

Sudhir Chella Rajan teaches at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Madras. He was formerly Head of the Department (2011-2014) and was Coordinator of the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability (2010-2016) and Area Coordinator for Land-Use (2016-2020). He obtained an inter-disciplinary doctorate in Environmental Science and Engineering from the University of California Los Angeles and has worked in progressively senior positions in government, research consultancies, NGOs and academia. His interests are primarily at the interface of political theory and the environment; in particular, on the new challenges that enter politics within democratic societies in the face of composite social and environmental encounters. Dr Rajan has worked on emergent policy dilemmas in automobile pollution regulation in California, the politics of power sector reform in developing countries, conflicts in relation to energy access and climate change policy, the patterns of social change needed in transport in the United States for fair climate policy, ethical approaches to addressing climate change and sea level rise, new interpretations of the resource curse in resource-rich developing countries, changes to the periurban landscape in South India and the shifting meanings of corruption in environmental and everyday discourse. His latest book is A Social History of Corruption: Notes from the Indian Subcontinent.


Saskia Sassen


The Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and former Chair, Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University.

Saskia Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and former Chair, Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University. Her books include Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy (Harvard University Press, 2014; translated into 12 languages); Cities in a World Economy, 5th fully updated edition (Sage); Losing Control: Sovereignty in an Age of Globalization, The Schoff Memorial Lectures, Columbia University Press 1995; New updated edition 2016; Territory, Authority, Rights : From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton University Press, 2008); A Sociology of Globalization (W.W. Norton, 2007); The Global City, (Princeton University Press 1991); The Mobility of Labor and Capital (Cambridge University Press 1988). Her books have been translated into over 20 languages. She is the recipient of diverse awards and mentions, multiple doctor honoris causa, named lectures, selected for various honors lists. She was awarded the Principe de Asturias 2013 Prize in the Social Sciences, and selected as one of the top 100 women in the Sciences in 2018. 


Karoline Wiesner


Professor of Complexity Science at the University of Potsdam and External Faculty of the Complexity Science Hub Vienna.

Karoline Wiesner is Professor of Complexity Science at the University of Potsdam, Germany, and External Faculty of the Complexity Science Hub Vienna. With a PhD in physics from Uppsala University, Sweden, and research fellowships at the Santa Fe Institute and the University of California, Davis, she joined the faculty at the University of Bristol in 2007. Her research focuses on the use of information theory in the study of formation, maintenance and stability of complex systems. Most recently she has begun studying the stability of democracies. This and other  projects are part of a long-term goal of building a quantitative framework for the dynamics of complex systems, firmly rooted in mathematics, physics, and philosophy of science. Karoline Wiesner held Visiting Research Professorships at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at Lund University.