Dr. Raja’s research focuses on planning and design for healthy communities and the fiscal dimensions of planning.
Her research on healthy communities examines the influence of the food and built environments on obesity and physical activity. Given the interdisciplinary nature of this topic, Dr. Raja collaborates with colleagues from UB’s School of Medicine and the School of Public Health and Health Professions. An ongoing multi-year study, conducted in collaboration with the School of Medicine, examines the effect of the built environment on obesity among youth, and has received over a million dollars in funding from the National Institute of Health.
Dr. Raja’s interests in fiscal dimensions of planning pertain to the methods planners use for measuring the fiscal impacts of land development. She is currently working, as a part of a national team, to develop a framework for evaluating traditional methods of fiscal impact analysis. This project is funded by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
Dr. Raja has also worked internationally. Her international interests pertain to the role of planning in communities experiencing conflict; her geographic area of expertise is the region of Kashmir in South Asia.
B.Sc. (civil engineering), College of Engineering and
Technology, Jamia Millia University, New Delhi
M. Planning (housing), School of Architecture and Planning, New Delhi
Ph.D. (urban and regional planning), University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dr. Raja teaches a combination of required and elective courses in the graduate MUP program. Currently, Dr. Raja teaches Research Methods, the first of a two-course required methods sequence. In the spring semester, Dr. Raja teaches Planning Methods, the second required course in the methods sequence, as well as Comparative International Planning and Development, a graduate seminar that introduces students to the theory and practice of development planning in developing countries, particularly in South Asia.
Dr. Raja's service to the community and the planning profession is linked to her research interests. As an active member of the national American Planning Association (APA), she works to bring the importance of community and regional food planning to the attention of practicing planners nationwide. As part of a recent effort funded by the Healthy Eating by Design program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she is leading a nationwide survey of APA members to discern their opinion of and role of planners in community and regional food planning. Other partners in this project include APA’s Food Systems Steering Committee, the University at Washington, and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. She also applies her research to address local and regional concerns. For example, Dr. Raja collaborates with the Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) to plan, implement, and evaluate strategies and programs to strengthen local sustainable food systems in the City of Buffalo. She is currently evaluating the effectiveness of a mobile market project, operated by MAP, to bring healthful, affordable produce to ‘food desert’ neighborhoods in Buffalo.
Dr. Raja is the principal or co-investigator on several studies that test the effect of the built and food environments on health (particularly physical activity and obesity). Her research is funded by the National Institute of Health (built environment and obesity), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (park access and obesity), the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (fiscal impacts of development), and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc (workplace design and health).
In 2005, under Dr. Raja's direction, the ‘Food for
Growth' graduate studio won a national award from the American
Association of Certified Planners (AICP).
In 2004, Dr. Raja represented the Institute of Objective Studies (New Delhi) at the 48th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.