Aria Ritz Finkelstein

I'm a a Ph.D. candidate at MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning and a guest student at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute's Marine Policy Center. In my research, I try to make sense of the overlapping spatial frameworks people design to classify, manage, and ultimately shape landscapes. Currently, that means researching ongoing efforts to implement marine spatial planning on the high seas.

The path to my doctoral studies has been a bit circuitous. At the University of Georgia, I wrote my undergraduate thesis on poets reckoning with the experience of the modern city. Wanting to engage with space more deeply, I studied architecture and urban design at Georgia Tech and spent a few years practicing planning in Atlanta. At MIT, I turned my attention to larger landscapes. First, that meant studying how culture and politics interacted with perceptions of nature driving afforestation projects and development plans in Israel's northern Negev. When I saw that processes shaping terrestrial landscapes were also at work in the management of submerged lands, I began to look at dredging projects in the harbors of Savannah and Boston. Now, I'm investigating how people represent what we know and don't know about high seas systems, how these representations are working throughout the ongoing UN negotiations on high seas biodiversity, and how they will ultimately form the basis for a spatial management framework for the high seas.

From time to time I post thoughts or photos on twitter or instagram. Once I spent some time sailing and fishing in Southeast Alaska. Sometimes I tinker with drones. Often you can find me in a crossword puzzle. Home is a 31' sailboat that I share with my partner.

Two projects that are important to me but for which I can take only a smidge of credit are my late father's website and his study of Albrecht Durer's Melencolia I.

If you want to know more about me or my work, say hi!