Mel Ford


Mel is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology at Rice University. She is a past co-coordinator of the Ethnography Studio with Katie Ulrich, as well as a predoctoral fellow at the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences (CENHS) at Rice University. Interested in the relationship between form, environment, and design, Mel’s dissertation research is focused on architectural interventions in the deep ravines (los barrancos) that compose nearly half of Guatemala City. Asking how ravines are contested spaces in Guatemala City’s future, she works with architects, urban planners, and policy makers to examine how differently situated experts design and call into view contesting urban, developed, and sustainable futures. While fascinated by the nexus of form, ecology, and design, her work contributes to research on democracy, public space, property, and security in postwar and peacetime Guatemala. Before attending Rice, she received a B.S. in Anthropology and a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies from the University of California, Riverside where she cultivated research interests in environment, infrastructure, and science and technology studies from her research with the NSF REU in Menomonie, Wisconsin.