Alexandra (Ola) Smialek
Ph.D. Candidate in Regional Planning
Ola is a Ph.D. candidate with research interests that relate to the cultural economy - particularly the authentic integration of local cultural assets within economic development strategies as a tool for preservation, social connection, and economic growth. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Regional Planning from Westfield State University and Master of Regional Planning here at UMass, Amherst. Her undergraduate thesis was focused on access to transportation for working class women in Springfield, MA. During her masters, she worked as a Research Assistant in the Center for Economic Development and completed a thesis studying the cultural representation of the Polish immigrant community in Westfield, MA.
For Ola, the classroom has always felt like a second home. After holding several teaching assistantship positions in the department, she teaches two sections of the First Year Seminar for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and an undergraduate Sustainable Community Development course for the LARP Department. Outside of the classroom, she loves television and film and has been known to be the person to beat at movie trivia. As a first-generation Polish-American, Ola is fluent in both English and Polish and is extremely proud of her family’s heritage.
Teaching Associate: Climate Change & Resilient Cities (Spring 2022, Spring 2023)
Teaching Associate: First Year Seminar - Building Sustainable Communities from the Ground Up (Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022)
Teaching Assistant: Intro. to Geographic Information Systems (Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021)
Teaching Assistant: History of Landscape & Architecture I (Fall 2019)
Research Assistant: Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Department (Fall 2018)
Research Assistant: Center for Economic Development (Fall 2015, Spring 2016)