Meet Our Team

Led by Principal Investigator Thomas Spiegelhalter, the Miami CRUNCH research team includes individuals who are passionate about designing towards a sustainable, carbon neutral future.


Thomas Spiegelhalter
Thomas SpiegelhalterPrincipal Investigator
Thomas is the research principal and professor of Sustainable and Resilient Architecture and Co-Director of the Structures and Environmental Technologies Lab at the FIU College of Communication, Architecture and The Arts and the principal investigator for the CRUNCH Miami research project. He is a German-US architect, LEED AP, engineer and urban planner. He has performed design and built research in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and the U.S. on numerous solar, carbon-neutral, zero-fossil-energy, and passive architectural projects; large-scale master planning and post-industrial infrastructures, landscapes, and engineered suspension bridges. As a result of his 35 years of awarded designs and built work, consulting, research, and teaching, he has received 57 prizes, awards, and honours in competitions individually and in collaboration with engineers. His research work as a Professor involves geospatial and climatic data repositories with AI-ML-data-driven generative design workflows and coding with biomimetics. Spiegelhalter and the CRUNCH Studios have participated twice at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2021 and 2023. Spiegelhalter taught at several universities, and held visiting professor positions at institutions worldwide. He is the Global Visiting Professor at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan, from May 2023 to May 2024.

Faculty at the FIU College of Arts, Science&Education, Sea Level Rise Solution Center, Institute of Environment and FIU CARTA:


Darren Ockert
Darren OckertGraduate Research Assistant
Darren Ockert is a British-American with an eclectic award-winning past in the arts, music, and production spanning London and New York City. Based in Miami and Costa Rica, Darren focuses on architecture, climate-change resilient strategies for buildings and landscapes, advanced architecture technologies, and sustainable design practices. Darren earned his Master of Architecture degree from FIU. Currently a doctoral candidate at FIU, Darren will focus his doctoral research on the intersection of architecture, artificial intelligence, and sustainability.
Jared Mallard
Jared MallardGraduate Research Assistant
Having studied graphic design and physics during his undergraduate program, he now aims to utilize the synergy between design and science to develop sustainable solutions in urban design. He is pursuing his Masters of Architecture degree at Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture, Florida International University.
Jorge Vasquez
Jorge VasquezResearch Assistant
Monica Dragalina
Monica DragalinaResearch Assistant
After obtaining an Advance Degree in Quality and Reliability Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Electronics from Polytechnic University of Bucharest, Romania, she is currently pursuing a Master of Architecture degree at Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture, Florida International University. Monica is also a NCARB/AIAS Student Appointed Licensing Advisor, Miami Beach Urban Studios – LEADS (Leadership Engagement and Development Students) Participant, and President of the Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society in Architecture and Allied Arts.
Chelsea Guimaraes
Chelsea GuimaraesResearch Assistant
Currently pursuing a Masters in Architecture at Florida International University. She is originally from Angola but lived all her life in Portugal. One of her goals is to eventually obtain a Ph.D. in an architectural related field, as well as start entering more art and design competitions. In the future, she hopes to be a valuable advocate for sustainability in the field of design.
Paula Castel
Paula CastelResearch Assistant
Masters of Architecture student at Florida International University. Paula has a deep interest in carbon-neutral design, soon to specialize in Earthship design and construction methods, and is a volunteer with All Hands and Hearts, a non-profit organization focused on building sustainable schools with repurposed materials in remote areas in the world that have been severely impacted by natural disasters.
Rebecca Quesnel
Rebecca QuesnelResearch Assistant
Masters of Architecture student at Florida International University. Rebecca hails from Toronto Canada and possess a background in criminal justice as she originally was a member of FIU’s swimming and diving team, being named the program’s first NCAA all American. Now, completing a masters within the architecture field Rebecca finds herself interested in carbon neutral design and hopes to become a licensed architect and an advocate for sustainability.
Yi Gong
Yi GongGraduate Research Assistant
Currently pursuing a Masters in Architecture at Florida International University. She has an undergraduate major in Administrative Management and has obtained a double degree in International Trade in China. She is a co-founder of the Smart Entry System company. Promoting a smarter, more energy-efficient, and better-quality future community life. Passionate about environmental protection, currently committed to preparing an NGO related to Green Building.
Maria Hermoza
Maria HermozaGraduate Research Assistant
Originally from Peru, where she obtained her degree in Renewable Energies and Natural Resources Engineering, Now, she is pursuing her Masters in Environmental Policies and Management. Her future goals are working in the development and research of clean energy technologies as well as alternative policies related to carbon-neutral solutions.
Srikanth Namuduri
Srikanth NamuduriSenior Researcher
A data scientist studying the Food, Energy & Water (FEW) nexus for the City of Miami, South Miami and Miami Beach. Brings several years of experience in data analysis, machine learning and deep learning. Loves solving problems using data.
Damian Ferrer
Damian FerrerResearch Assistant
Currently pursuing a degree in Computer Engineering, has participated in various internships that required implementation of machine learning. Has experience applying data science techniques and artificial intelligence to projects.
Perry Gabriel
Perry GabrielResearch Assistant
Electrical Engineering Student with a passion for AI and Big Data. Perry Gabriel is originally from Miami Beach and is also a first generation high school and college graduate. A few of his goals are to attend graduate school with a focus on research and to work for a reputable company that put people first.
Amalia Tomey
Amalia TomeyMaster of Architecture
Master Thesis Student Amalia Tomey won the A.I.A. MIAMI 2020 Design Award with her 2100 Building Scenario Design in the FIU MIAMI CRUNCH Design Studio Prof Thomas Spiegelhalter, July 2020.
Ramses Allende
Ramses AllendeGraduate Research Assistant
Ramses is currently enrolled at FIU where he is pursuing a master’s degree in architecture. He is interested in how emerging technologies such as generative, evolutionary, and optimization algorithms are able to give new insights relating to spatial conditions that might’ve not otherwise been noticeable. Ramses was awarded the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) Crit Scholar Grant in 2021, Ramses will be researching how new emerging technologies could create novel strategies regarding circulation, a field of study which is being reevaluated due to the role played by architecture in the spread of the COVID-19.
Wendy Thet Lun
Wendy Thet LunGraduate Research Assistant
Wendy Thet Lun is originally from Singapore but lived her life in Queens, New York, and Broward, Florida. She studied computational sciences and environmental planning at UCF. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Environmental Policy and Management.
John Alexander Correa
John Alexander CorreaResearch Assistant
John Alexander Correa is an M.Arch Candidate at Florida International University. Correa has a multidisciplinary background spanning botany, ecology, graphic design, and publishing. Correa’s ambitions primarily concern the production of affordable housing and mixed-use structures. He has placed emphasis on passive design systems, prefabrication, and mass transit as means for promoting equity, environmental justice, and ecological remediation. He has conducted research in vernacular settlements across Southeast and East Asia, explored biomimicry through tropical flora and fauna, and has recently pivoted towards mass timber, modularization, and the development of a Passive House standard for tropical ecosystems.
Shravan Kumar Reddy Nimma
Shravan Kumar Reddy NimmaGraduate Research Assistant
Shravan Kumar Reddy Nimma is a dedicated Data Engineer with over two years of professional experience, now enriching his skills as a Data Researcher at Florida International University. With a strong foundation in Python, SQL, cloud technologies, and machine learning, Shravan has a proven track record in developing scalable data pipelines, enhancing data analysis processes, and contributing to significant projects such as scenario-based models for resilience design and renewable energy. His recent work focuses on advanced GIS data processing, 3D Digital Twins, and creating dynamic visualizations, demonstrating his capacity to bridge complex technical concepts with practical applications in research and development.
Lila Coffey
Lila CoffeyResearch Assistant
Masters of Architecture candidate at Florida International University. Born and raised in southwest Florida, Lila has a great interest in carbon-neutral design and sustainability as well as historical preservation. Her future goals include community outreach and generating solutions to the housing crisis, especially in underserved and vulnerable communities impacted by climate change.
Noam Beaudoin De Roca
Noam Beaudoin De RocaGraduate Research Assistant
Noam Beaudoin de Roca is Masters of Architecture candidate at Florida International University. Noam is passionate about carbon-neutral design and off-the-grid technologies. After working with different digital fabrication methods such as 3D Printing, CNC milling, and robotic fabrication, he aims to combine low-tech and digital fabrication technologies to develop more efficient solutions for underserviced populations not connected to their national grids.
Emely Acobo
Emely AcoboGraduate Research Assistant
Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Emely Acobo is a M.Arch Candidate at Florida International University. She is interested in environmental science and sustainable design. Her future goals are becoming a licensed architect and developing innovative and transformative design solutions that will create a sustainable interconnected society between people and the environment. In addition to being a full time student, Emely is also part of the (NOMAS) National Organization of Minority Architecture Students e-board.


Zhaohui (Jennifer) Fu
Zhaohui (Jennifer) FuGIS Consultant
Jennifer directs the FIU Library’s Geographic Information Systems Center (GIS Center), Maps & Imagery User Services (MIUS), and the Digital Collections Center (DCC). She is responsible for the development, administration, and supervision of GIS technology implementation campus-wide. Jennifer also coordinates GIS-related research projects and instruction in the GIS Center, and is the founding director of the FIU GIS Certificate Program. She earned her Master’s in Information Science and Policy from SUNY at Albany.
Dr. Levente Juhasz
Dr. Levente JuhaszGIS Research Consultant
Originally trained as a physical geographer, Levente earned his PhD from the University of Florida in Geomatics. He also held short-term visiting positions in Italy and Austria, and worked as a data scientist for a geospatial startup before joining the GIS Center at FIU. He is passionate about answering real world questions with data. His research deals with various aspects of (geospatial) big data and aims to increase our understanding of user-generated geographic information. He has expertise in spatial analysis and modeling , spatial statistics, geocomputation and web technologies.
Dr. Sheyla Santana
Dr. Sheyla SantanaGIS Research Consultant
PhD in GIS and Urban Planning at the Federal University of Minas Gerais State (evaluated in USA), Master’s degree in Environmental Systems Analysis and Modeling, a specialist in GIS Latu-Sensu, Bachelor’s degree in Tourism at UFMG. With a strong background in urban analysis, she has expertise in geographic information systems, spatial analysis, remote sensing, webgis, collaborative maps, and landscape three-dimensional representation.
Jason Domark
Jason DomarkLegal Consultant - Cozen O’Connor
Jason received his bachelor’s degree, with honors, from the University of Miami. Jason earned his law degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Miami School of Law and participated in the University of Miami Law Review.

Karam Baki
Karam BakiRevit, Dynamo, BIM, Scripting Specialist
Karam Baki from Jordan is a worldwide highly respected Autodesk Expert Elite Member, generative Dynamo, Revit, BIM, Fusion360, and Infraworks360 beta tester and champion, 360 Rendering Pro, and a university tutor in architectural engineering. He has been providing webinars for the carbon-neutral design studios of Prof. Spiegelhalter at Florida International University, College of Architecture in Miami for over 4 years. Currently, he is assisting the CRUNCH team with computational and automated workflows for Dynamo and BIM to achieve Carbon-Neutral Cities, Infrastructures, and Buildings.
Albert Elias
Albert EliasResearch Consultant
Albert is the Founder and Creative Director of Aberrate Design Studio, which is an interdisciplinary practice operating in the grey matter between science, art, and technology. More information is here:
James Brasil
James BrasilConsultant
James is a leading practitioner of unsolicited urban practices in the consolidation of the public realm by fusing digital tools with participatory processes. James works with industry, academic, cultural and city partners to develop innovative and holistic strategies on how data-driven research, digital tools and/or fabrication can become accessible to artists, designers and local citizens alike. James has directed and continues to explore pilot projects that seed resilient prototypes for peer-to-peer models of community-oriented production of food, energy and/or water. Currently, James participates on various advisory boards and international research projects focused on resiliency
Liss C. Werner
Liss C. WernerConsultant
Liss C. Werner (Phd c) is a registered architect in Berlin, and founder of Tactile Architecture. She acted as guest professor of Bio-inspired Architecture and Sensoric at TU Berlin, and Taylor’s University in Malaysia, and professor at Carnegie Mellon University. She lectures and publishes internationally. Werner’s research and teaching is based on system theory, cybernetics, and biological principles to understand complex ecologies between analog and digital. Werner was educated at the Bartlett and RMIT. She is a member several scientific committees, the American Society of Cybernetics, and the Complex Systems Board at the Lifeboat Foundation. Werner is an expert evaluator for the European Commission.
Gianmichelle Panarelli
Gianmichelle PanarelliConsultant
Gianmichele is the professor for BIM and Project Management and technologies for building redevelopment at the engineering and geology department of University G. d’ Annunzio of Pescara in Italy.
Expert for the Presidency of the Council of Ministers on school building issues.
Expert for the European Commission, Research Executive Agency, in the Horizon program EU -Twin-Transition, Twin Green and Digital Transition and Resilience and Breakthrough technologies supporting technological sovereignty in construction (RIA). Author of several publications on the topics of construction technologies and building processes with BIM models and experimental systems based on artificial intelligence, machine learning and digital twins for digital transition and adaptation to climate change.
Clarissa Ditonno
Clarissa DitonnoConsultant
Clarissa is PhD and research fellow at the engineering and geology department of University G. d’ Annunzio of Pescara in Italy. Clarissa has a deep interest in smart model support for the quality and control of the construction process and adaptive protocol and elaborated a specific model for one Interactive Virtual Platform. She currently conducts studies and research on new construction and renovation of school buildings for the NextGeneration EU program with digital twin models.


Jane Gilbert
Jane GilbertChief Resilience Officer at City of Miami
Jane Gilbert’s goal is to help strengthen communities – economically, socially and environmentally. Ms. Gilbert assists diverse stakeholders develop and activate integrated solutions. Ms. Gilbert has over 20 years experience in strategic planning, corporate value integration, non-profit management, fundraising, and program design/implementation in the areas of education, community and economic development, arts & culture, energy and environment.
Zachariah A. Cosner
Zachariah A. Cosner City of South Miami Grants and Sustainability Administrator
Zac Cosner is the Sustainability and Grants Administrator for the City of South Miami. A Miami-Dade County Native, Zac graduated from the University of Miami in 2017 with a triple major in Biology, ‘Ecosystem Science & Policy’ and History. Following his graduation from the University of Miami, Zac worked as a consulting associate with the firm Conservation Concepts LLC where he worked on a variety of pressing environmentally focused activist campaigns and legal suits throughout Miami-Dade County. Zac joined the City of South Miami team as grants and sustainability administrator in July of 2018, attracted by the longstanding reputation of the City of South Miami as a hub of forward-thinking environmental policy.


Christiano Lepratti
Christiano LeprattiCollaborator, Professor
Christiano Lepratti serves as a university professor in architecture and urban design, as well as holding the role of delegate for international affairs at the Italian Polytechnic University of Genoa (UNIGE). He taught from 1999 to 2013 at the Darmstadt University of Technology in Germany. Over recent years, Lepratti’s research has predominantly centered on “Sustainable by Design” strategies. He played a pivotal role as the UIA European Director of the work program “Architecture for a Sustainable Future” from 2011 to 2013, advocating strongly for sustainable development in Europe with a focus on climate-optimized architecture and urban design. In 2012, he was the Official Delegate of the International Union of Architects (UIA) at the United Nations conference RIO+ 20 in Rio de Janeiro. Lepratti has delivered lectures across four continents and authoring over 50 scientific articles. His firm, “malearc”, established in 1993 in Berlin, has won multiple architectural competitions and executed projects in Germany, Italy, the UK, and China. He currently enriches the Dresden University of Technology in Germany as a guest professor for Architectural Design. In addition to his academic and professional pursuits, Lepratti has been actively involved in the FIU CRUNCH research and master thesis presentation projects and publications with FrancoAngeli in Milan, Italy,, offering his expertise as an international critic. This includes reviewing projects from students participating in the European Erasmus exchange program between FIU College of Architecture, Communication and the Arts and the University of Genoa’s Architecture School.
Guido Rossi
Guido RossiPhD Candidate - University of Genoa
Guido is a PhD candidate at the University of Genoa (Italy), Department of Architecture and Design and guest researcher at the FIU Miami Beach Urban Studios. He has a background as an architect with expertise relating to architectural design and urban planning. He has acquired skills and expertise in particular in urban planning with a focus on Sustainability and Environmental Issues. His research is focused on resilience and urban adaptation to climate change and water related impacts, in particular on the implementation of blue-green infrastructures and traditional grey infrastructures aimed at adaptation.

The Future Is Carbon Neutral

We are a multi-disciplinary research team committed to focussed and efficient study of solutions based design scenarios to build resilient, carbon positive cities.

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