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Michael Borsellino

Current Student—Ph.D in Urban and Regional Planning

Michael Borsellino

Email: mborsel@umich.edu
Website: michaelborsellino.com
Twitter: @mborsel

Dissertation:  Invoking Gentrification, a conceptual and contextual history

Dissertation Committee:  Scott Campbell (co-chair), Josh Akers (co-chair), Rob Goodspeed, Jeremy Levine (cognate)

Areas of Interest:  conceptual history, gentrification, computational methods, urban theory


Michael is a PhD candidate in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Michigan.  Michael’s dissertation traces the divergent history of “gentrification” in academic and public discourses to understand what is invoked when the contested term is used.  The project pairs latent Dirichlet allocation with historical semantic analysis to explore key spatial and temporal shifts in the meaning and application of gentrification across diffuse users.  Using these shifts as paradigmatic of planning thought, the project turns inward to examine how planners and practitioners position the urban in a greater narrative.

Michael is currently President of the UPDoc Doctoral Group where he is responsible for coordinating professional development workshops and social events.  Additionally, as the Lead Coordinator for LunchUP, a weekly speaker series at Taubman College, he has brought in speakers from six continents to share their work with planning, architecture, and design students.  He is also participating in the Rackham Professional Development Leaders Program. Throughout his studies, Michael has received numerous awards from the Rackham Graduate School and the Bloustein School for merit, research, and travel. 

Prior to his doctoral studies, Michael received his MCRP (2017) and a BA (2015) in Geography from Rutgers University. His studies focused on spatial statistics, geographic techniques, and community and economic development.  He also worked as a GIS Research Analyst on projects funded by NOAA at both Rutgers University and the School for Marine Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts.


  • 2020 - Michael Borsellino and Taru.  “Aspiration for whom?:  Aesthetic language in Detroit and Delhi.” Annual Conference of the American Association of Geographers (AAG). Denver, CO.
  • 2019 - Michael Roman-John Koscielniak and Michael Borsellino. “Backfill to the City Movement: Dirt, Demolition, and Accumulation-by-Destruction in Detroit, MI.” Annual Conference of the American Association of Geographers (AAG). Washington, DC.
  • 2019 - Taru and Michael Borsellino. “Locating Urban Imaginaries on a Just City.” Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) Annual Conference. Greenville, SC.

Grants, Fellowships, and Awards:

  • 2019–2020 - Rackham Professional Development Leaders Award ($3,200)
  • 2019 - Rackham Conference Travel Grant ($793)
  • 2019 - Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant ($1,024)
  • 2019 - Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop Grant ($5,000)
  • 2019 - Rackham Conference Travel Grant ($800)
  • 2017 - Harvey G. and Joyce H. Behner Graduate Fellowship ($8,000)
  • 2015–2017 - Bloustein Excellence Award ($20,000)
  • 2015 - Gamma Theta Upsilon Honor Society

For a full CV, please see http://www.michaelborsellino.com/static/docs/Borsellino.CV.pdf

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