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Seema D. Iyer, Ph.D.

Associate Director of the Jacob France Institute and Research Assistant Professor

Department of Finance and Economics
Office: Business Center 363
Phone: 410.837.5797
Personal Web Site:


  • Ph.D., University of Michigan
  • M.A., University of Pennsylvania
  • B.A., University of Pennsylvania
  • Study Abroad, Moscow Energy Institute
  • Bio

    Seema D. Iyer, PhD is Director of the Real Estate and Economic Development (REED) program in the Merrick School of Business (MSB). She also is associate director for the Jacob France Institute (JFI) — MSB’s economic research center. She oversees the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance at JFI which collects, integrates and disseminates community-based quality of life indicators. BNIA-JFI annually produces the City's Vital Signs report that "takes the pulse" of what's going on in Baltimore's neighborhoods. BNIA-JFI is part of the Urban Institute's National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership of sites that provide longitudinal, community based data for neighborhood planning and advocacy. Dr. Iyer is a recognized expert on strategic planning in community development; recent projects include the McElderry Park Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Plan, Regional Housing Plan for the Opportunity Collaborative, an evaluation of Baltimore City’s Vacants to Value program and verification of work for the Baltimore Energy Initiative. Her research focuses on the role of data sharing in collaborative public innovation processes. She has overseen large-scale research projects using integrated data systems on the relationship between energy assistance benefits to households and weatherization programs in the home. in 2017, she served as a consultant to the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Information Technology on the city’s Open Data program. Prior to joining UB, Iyer was chief of research and strategic planning for the Baltimore City Department of Planning and managed Baltimore's division responsible for data and policy analysis, geographic information systems services and population forecasting. She spearheaded part of the city's critical planning efforts as director of the 2010 Census Complete Count Campaign and co-chair of its 2009 Food Policy Task Force. In 2008, she managed the city's planning grant to develop the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. Iyer holds a Ph.D. in urban and regional planning from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and has extensive international research experience gained through her study of comprehensive planning strategies in post-socialist countries. Dr. Iyer was a 2017 Fulbright-Nehru Scholar in Bangalore, India, researching the role of urban governance for metropolitan economic competitiveness. Her blog from the experience is available at

  • Research Interests

    Her research focuses on the role of data in supporting collaborative, well-informed decision-making for community development. Other areas include the impact of development review on real estate development and energy efficiency measures on housing policy.

  • Teaching Interests

    Dr. Iyer teaches Real Estate Principles and Introduction to Economic Development

  • Recent Publications

    Intellectual Contributions

    Book Chapters

    Iyer, S. (2015). Barriers to Data Sharing for Inclusive Knowledge Management: Why WatershedStat in the City of Baltimore Failed. M.E. Sharpe Press. pp 91-109.

    Refereed Journal Articles

    Iyer, S., & Hwang, C. (2018). Cultural Mapping in Baltimore: The Creation of GEOLOOM co>map. Community Scope, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. 6(1),

    Research Report

    Iyer, S., & Knott, C. (2018). SMART CITIES, CONNECTED COMMUNITIES: Data-Driven Decision Making in West Baltimore for Smart Technology Planning.


    Cantora, A., Iyer, S., & Restivo, L. (2015). Understanding drivers of crime in East Baltimore: Resident perceptions of why crime persists. American Journal of Criminal Justice.

    Written Case



    Iyer, S. Merrick School Accounting/Finance Research Seminars, "Tipping Points in Neighborhood Real Estate Markets," (2016).

    Cantora, A., Iyer, S., & . Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, "“You Can’t Stop Crime Here”: Understanding Local Crime Problems in East Baltimore.," Orlando, Florida. (2015).

    Cantora, A., Iyer, S., & Restivo, L. Academy of Criminal Justice Science Conference, "Conducting Focus Groups to Understand Drivers of Urban Crime," Philadelphia, PA. (2014).

    Contracts, Grants and Sponsored Research

    Iyer, Seema , "Our Town: Baltimore Arts & Cultural Mapping Project" Sponsored by National Endowment for the Arts, Federal, (2016).

    Rezaei, Fatemeh (Co-Principal), Conlin, Kristin (Co-Principal), Iyer, Seema (Principal), "Civic Switchboard Field Project Awards - Exploring the University of Baltimore Library’s Baltimore Regional Study Archives and the Baltimore Vital Signs Open Data to Improve Quality of Life in Baltimore Neighborhoods." Sponsored by Institute of Museum and Library Services, The University of Baltimore, $9000. (2019).

    Iyer, Seema (Principal), "Baltimore Pipeline" Sponsored by Association of Builders and Contractors--Baltimore, Local, $24000. (2014 - 2016).

    Media Contributions

    Baltimore Sun: "Fighting for the Red Line" (Op-Ed) (2015).

    Research in Progress

    "Connecting People to Place" (Writing Results)