Jessie Marshall Zarazaga, Ph.D., RIBA, LeedAP

Dr. Zarazaga

Jessie Marshall Zarazaga, Ph.D., RIBA, LeedAP

Clinical Associate Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Director, Sustainability + Development Program

Director, Initiative for Spatial Literacy (GIS@SMU)

Office Location: Caruth 206A


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  • Ph.D. Engineering, Applied Science, SMU
  • M.A. Dip. Arch. Architecture, Cambridge University
  • B.A. Architecture, Cambridge University
  • B.A. Theatre Design, Williams College


Program Director of the Sustainability + Development Program (SDP) at SMU Lyle, Dr. Zarazaga is a Clinical Associate Professor in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, director of the GIS lab, and a fellow of the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity. Trained first as an architect and urban designer, Zarazaga’s teaching and practice spans the boundaries of urbanism, landscape design, geospatial mapping, and participatory public engagement.

Across all these boundaries, Zarazaga explores ways to connect culture and community to place. Using GIS and participatory community mapping, she explores the impact of civil and environmental choices on the design of the sustainable city. Her published research spans education and practice, working on the integration of community research into project-based learning, and her practice brings together mapping, global sustainable development, design and creativity. Zarazaga has both worked and taught in Hong Kong, Tanzania, Finland, Chile and several Universities in the UK, as well as in the US, focusing on the operation of the infrastructures of landscape, and their impact on urban space. Building on her active architectural practice her research integrates design and public engagement for overlapping environmental, economic and cultural impact. Zarazaga undertook a Fulbright in Valparaiso, Chile, where, as in her ongoing projects in Tanzania, Kenya and Texas, she seeks to design beautiful, equitable environments through collaborative processes.

Honors and Awards

  • Dunnigan Community Engagement Award, 2023, Greater Dallas Planning Commission
  • Winner, Tech Titans University Award, Tech Titans Technology Associate for North Texas, 2022
  • Honoring Our Professors' Excellence (HOPE) Award, SMU Nominated 2019
  • AIA Dallas Chapter, Honor Award, for ‘Art Box’ 2009
  • Fulbright Scholar, 2005
  • RIBA/ USA Commendation Award, 2004,
  • Annaka International Design Competition  Environmental Art Forum, Finalist, 3rd Place Prize 2003
  • AIA Dallas Chapter, Citation Award, Troia Hotel & Sustainable Masterplan 2001
  • British American Universities Fellowship  1992
  • First Portfolio Award Harvard/ Cambridge Fellowship, 1990
  • Ken Roberts Award for Dissertation (distinction), Cambridge, 1990
  • The Wingate Foundation Fellowship Award 1989                        




  • Creativity and design in Engineering Education

  • Participatory GIS for community engaged Research

  • Sustainable Rural Development

  • Community-based global engagement for Engineering Education

  • Infrastructure as Landscape

Recent Publications

  • Zarazaga, J. M. Evaluating Geo-Spatial Mapping as a tactic for Generative Design in Engineering Education. Submitted to European Journal of Engineering Education, (submitted 2022).

  • Zarazaga J. M,  Smith-Colin J and Hua C, ‘Socially Distanced Community Engagement’ – Teaching GIS Site-Analysis during COVID, ASEE Annual Conference 2022, Community Engagement Division ASEE (

  • Zarazaga, Martin, McCann, McMillan, Schlemer, ‘Community Student Gaps: A Story _ Critical Conversations” ’  International Journal of Engineering, Social Justice, and Peace.

  • Zheng Li, Xinlei Wang, Zarazaga J, Smith-Colin J, Minsker B., ‘Do Infrastructure Deserts Exist? Measuring and Mapping Infrastructure Equity: A case study in Dallas, Texas.’, Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning, Elsevier Dec, 2021.

  • Zarazaga, J. M. (2019). Deep Observation: Geo-Spatial mapping as a strategy for site-engagement and problem design Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference, LEES div, 2019.

  • Zarazaga, J. M. (2018). Mapping as Design Thinking: Can GIS Help Engineering Students Approach Design? Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference 2018, Design in Engineering Education Division (DEED) 2018, 24.

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