Dení López

Designer, Urban Planner


As a PhD candidate in Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, Dení studies the intricacies of disaster risk planning and governance across different scales, focusing on areas facing recurring socio-environmental challenges. Her research emphasizes participatory action research (PAR) and design as crucial tools for engaging with and addressing the needs of communities at the edge of policy and geography, fostering both immediate solutions and long-term disaster resilience.

Her work, underpinned by a belief in design as a bridge between academic theory and actionable policy, has been recognized in publications by The Plan Journal, Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, and MIT's School of Architecture and Planning.

Dení holds a Master in Design Studies (Risk and Resilience) and a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Harvard University, complemented by a Bachelor of Architecture from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. In addition to her academic pursuits, she has also collaborated with renowned architectural firms such as Estudio Lamela and JSa in Mexico City.

Dení’s journey reflects a deep commitment to using design for social justice, leveraging her diverse roles as an educator, advocate, architect, urban planner, and researcher to create meaningful change. Through the lens of design-enhanced PAR, Dení aims to reimagine disaster risk management and build equitable resilience. Moving forward, her unwavering goal is to deepen her collaboration with the Zapotec communities in Oaxaca, a partnership rooted in mutual respect and learning since the aftermath of the 2017 Mexican earthquakes.