Sustainability PhD alumna working to make slums more connected

Top down Aerial view of slum neighborhoodSchool of Sustainability PhD alumna Christa Brelsford is part of a team working to improve the lives of slum residents by using topology — a method that allows the team to mathematically examine the slums’ spatial structures and networks. “This method could determine, for example, the fewest streets that would need to be added to provide street access to everyone, and at minimal cost and with minimal disruption to the residents,” describes author Stephen Ornes, who wrote about Breslford’s work in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In the article, Brelsford said that the idea to use topography to improve slums came about because slum residents said they felt “disconnected.” Brelsford’s work in slums with project leader Luís Bettencourt began because of a connection borne at Arizona State University. She was recommended by ASU professor Abigail York to work as a postdoctoral researcher on his project because of her strong quantification skills and interdisciplinary approach. To learn more about Breslford’s work in slums, read the article: “Science and Culture: Can the principles of topology help improve the world’s slums?