A Q&A with our Summer 2023 Center for the Future of Cities Fellows

As we head into summer, ESI welcomes two new teammates who will serve as ESI Center for the Future of Cities fellows. Samriddhi Khare currently attends the University of Pennsylvania and will be graduating in 2024. Samriddhi will receive her Master’s in City Planning and concentrations in smart cities and Technology. Patrick Darcy is a recent graduate from Temple University where he graduated with a BBA in Economics, and is currently working towards his MS in Financial Analysis with an anticipated graduation date of 2024.

We wanted to give our fellows an opportunity to express their goals for the fellowship, their thoughts on what interested them the most about Econsult Solutions and ESI Center for the Future of Cities, and where they hope to be once they graduate. Below is their commentary.


How did you hear about Econsult Solutions and ESI Center for the Future of Cities?

Samriddhi: “I heard about the ESI Center for the Future of Cities work from numerous Penn Students and faculty that were and continue to be a part of the team. Kendra Hills, my predecessor for the fellowship was my TA in my first semester!”

Patrick: “I initially heard about Econsult Solutions through a presentation by Rebecca DeJoseph at a meeting for the Temple Economics Society, a student professional organization, which I served on the Executive Board of. I heard about ESI’s Center for the Future of Cities through my behavioral economics professor, Donald Wargo, who let me know of the position and recommended I apply.”

What interested you in the fellowship position?

Patrick: “I was interested in the fellowship position because I felt it could supply an opportunity for me to highlight my skills and develop meaningful insights into how cities can effectively prepare for future challenges and opportunities.”

Samriddhi: “I was interested in studying the future of cities due to the dynamic nature of urban environments and the potential for transformative change. This fellowship offers an opportunity to explore innovative solutions that address emerging challenges such as rapid urbanization, technological advancements, and evolving social dynamics.”

What initially led you to learning more about urban planning and economics? What excites you about this line of work?

Samriddhi: “Prior to this line of work, I trained as an architect. I was inspired by the built environment and how influential cities were to our lives. I am excited by the potential current technology offers to improve citizens’ quality of life.”

Patrick: “I was initially drawn to urban planning and economics through academic research during my undergraduate experience. I am excited to research this topic because of its size, complexity, and opportunity to make a difference for the better.”

What is one topic you hope to learn more about this summer?

Patrick: “This summer I hope to learn more about urban planning and city development. They are both vital and intricate topics that will be integral to my research.”

Samriddhi: “I want to work and learn extensively about urban resilience. With the increasing frequency and intensity of challenges cities face, from climate change impacts to natural disasters and pandemics, urban areas are becoming more and more vulnerable to various shocks and stresses. By building resilience, cities can better prepare for and respond to these crises, minimizing their negative impacts on infrastructure, the economy, and the well-being of communities. Urban resilience is essential for safeguarding lives, reducing risks, and ensuring the long-term sustainability and adaptability of cities in the face of an uncertain and rapidly changing world.”

What city are you most interested in researching while at ESI?

Samriddhi: “Over the summer my research will span multiple cities, all of which will provide unique and interesting context. Coming from the National Capital Region of India (a group of cities surrounding New Delhi), I am excited to learn more about urban agglomerations. Agglomerations are inherently fascinating due to their complexity and the convergence of diverse cultures, economies, and lifestyles in one geographic space. I am researching the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan complex and learning a lot about the systems and networks between each city.”

Patrick: “I am most interested in researching Philadelphia. Philadelphia is a city with an incredible history, which is embedded in the story of America. I am excited to further explore its past and present, its challenges, as well as its opportunities for growth and improvement in the future.”

What do you see as the biggest challenge for cities to overcome in the next 3 – 5 years?

Patrick: “I see technological innovation and implementation as the biggest challenge for cities to overcome in the short-term future. Major technological advances have been developed to combat issues such as environmental threats, infrastructure, and economic inequality. Cities must leverage this technology to build a resilient and prosperous future.”

Samriddhi: “Cities face two critical challenges: escalating inequality and the pressing need to address climate crises and promote sustainability. Tackling these issues is pivotal for fostering inclusive urban environments that prioritize equity, resilience, and a sustainable future. By addressing inequality, cities can strive for economic justice and ensure that prosperity is shared by all residents. Simultaneously, integrating climate action and sustainability measures into urban planning and policies will pave the way for environmentally conscious cities, safeguarding future generations from the devastating impacts of climate change.”

What type of work do you hope to get into once you graduate?

Samriddhi: “I want to continue working towards making cities better and more equitable by incorporating holistic and accessible technology. By leveraging innovative solutions and inclusive practices, I want to help create urban environments that prioritize accessibility and sustainability, paving the way for a future where technology serves as a catalyst for change.”

Patrick: “After graduation, I hope to pursue economic research, investment management and financial analysis.”


ESI would like to welcome our newest fellows on this learning experience! We are excited to have them involved with our thought leadership initiative and look forward seeing their skills and understanding of urban issues grow. Best of luck on this fellowship!


Norah Serverson | [email protected]

Norah Serverson is a Marketing Assistant at Econsult Solutions Inc. (ESI) supporting the Business Development and Marketing Department. Ms. Serverson is currently a student at La Salle University studying Marketing and Communication.

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