Xuezhu (Gillian) Zhao, originally from Beijing China, is a Master of City Planning candidate concentrating in Smart Cities. Passionate about urban informatics and cultural heritage, she is enthusiastic about the possibility of leveraging data analytics to promote vibrant and sustainable communities, especially in the realm of economic development and transportation planning.
She recently worked as a Design Fellow for the Housing Initiative at Penn, looking at rental relief programs in Atlanta and Philadelphia during COVID-19. She currently serves as a research assistant in Professor Erick Guerra’s team, where she helps model the effect of the pandemic on SEPTA bus ridership. Prior to attending UPenn, Zhao graduated with highest honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with a B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning and a minor in Informatics. She had also interned at the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, where she prepared maps and analyzed data for planning applications.