Who we are

Jassen Callender, Director

Jassen Callender is an assistant professor at Mississippi State University and Director of the School of Architecture’s Jackson Center which houses the Fifth Year Program as well as the Jackson Community Design Center. Callender received his Master of Fine Arts (Painting and Drawing) from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN, 2001 and his Bachelor of Architecture (Architecture and Philosophy) from Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS, 1994. In addition to directing the research efforts of the JCDC, Professor Callender teaches advanced design studios and Urban Design and advises thesis students. His areas of research include the analysis of urban systems, visual perception, and philosophical constructions of desire, and has been invited to lecture on these topics both nationally and internationally.

Whitney Grant, Research Associate

Whitney Grant received her Bachelor of Architecture from Mississippi State University and is a Research Associate in the JCDC. Grant has investigated urban issues in Washington, DC and Istanbul prior to her two years of research in Jackson, MS. In addition to Urban Research, she has conducted material research to explore methods in sustainable building and recycled materials. Grant was awarded the 2009 Student Research Award and the 2010 Staff Research Award by Mississippi State University. She serves on the board of the Jackson Bike Advocates, and will also serve as a delegate in the National Building Museum’s Intelligent Cities Initiative.

Neil Polen

Neil Polen received his Bachelor of Architecture from Mississippi State University and is a Research Associate in the JCDC. Neil has diversified experience in multiple architecture firms across the Southeast region and has worked for the Carl Small Town Center, a similar design institute focusing on Mississippi’s rural communities. Neil was also awarded honorable mention in the PELLA Design Competition while in school. Neil’s work as both a student and JCDC employee has been featured in the Jackson Free Press.

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