Refugee Housing

Faculty Research Director

Dr. Daniel Nielson

Project Team Leads

Danny Cowser, Olgahan Çat, Camille Phares, Drew Wessels


Working to find actual refugees adequate housing, the team is conducting an online field experiment that investigates bias in refugee housing and explores strategies to mitigate discrimination. Collaborating with Casa Marianella and the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the research examines demographic factors influencing the likelihood of refugees facing inequality in accessing legal assistance and housing. The study utilizes surveys, experimental treatments, and statistical analysis to assess the impact of interventions on housing outcomes. By understanding the challenges faced by refugees and identifying effective measures to combat bias, this research aims to provide valuable insights for policymakers, academics, and organizations involved in refugee assistance. The hope is that this study’s findings have the potential to improve the protection and support provided to vulnerable refugee populations, ultimately promoting more equitable access to housing and legal assistance.

Team Members

Haopeng Chen

Haopeng Chen

Research Assistant

Haopeng Chen is a senior double majoring in economics and mathematics. His favorite activity is playing sorts of sports, like basketball, freespin, soccer, etc. His motivation for life is that “Life isn’t challenging you because you’re weak. It’s challenging you to show just how strong you truly are.”

Ocean Ekmark

Research Assistant

Ocean Ekmark (she/they) is a fourth year Government student with a minor in law, justice, and society. Her interests include education, social justice, and communications. She has done work at the Texas Capitol as a policy analyst intern, as well as serving on the Board of Directors for a local non-profit student housing organization. Additionally, she contributes to the Daily Texan student newspaper as the Diversity & Inclusion Associate Director. They are looking forward to furthering their research through the University of Texas at Austin Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program alongside the excellent team at the Innovation for Peace and Development Lab. 

Jasmine Flores

Research Assistant

Introducing Jasmine, a dedicated third-year International Relations & Global Studies major in the Refugee Housing research team at IPD. Jasmine is passionate about making a difference in the world. With a keen interest in global affairs, she is committed to contributing meaningfully through research work. Her mission is centered on helping others and fostering positive global change. Jasmine strives to bridge gaps and bring a deeper level of understanding in the lab and alongside her teammates. Through her active involvement and unwavering dedication, she is set to make a meaningful impact, contributing positively to the UT community and creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for everyone. 

Madison T. Romero

Research Assistant

As a sophomore studying International Relations & Global Studies, business, and certificates in both Spanish business and humanitarian engineering, Madison is a student that continues to indulge in her vast educational interests. Through IPD, I aim to gain relevant experience in helping those of underdeveloped communities, while building lasting connections with other researchers! Although she does plan to attend law school following undergrad, she is unsure of what area of law she hopes to practice one day. In her free time, Madison loves to try new Austin coffee shops with her friends and obsess over photos of her dog, who she misses endlessly.