Call me Josh.

Joshua Vargas is a Research Assistant at Future Cities Laboratory Global (FCL), an interdisciplinary urban science research group at the Singapore-ETH Centre. There, he contributes to the deployment and development of ur-scape, a geospatial planning support tool created in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank, the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs, and other government and inter-governmental organisations. He is also Co-Founder and Co-President of the Young Urbanists of Southeast Asia (YUSEA), a new commmunity of young people passionate about Southeast Asian cities.
He hails from Zamboanga City in the Philippines. As a high school student at Ateneo de Zamboanga, he volunteered with SUGPAT, an NGO supported by UNICEF and ING to support the development of youth displaced by the 2013 Zamboanga siege. After a vehicular accident where he was hit by a truck in 2016, he became an advocate for urban child safety and social protection. He spoke at the UNICEF Asia Pacific’s Growing Up Urban Surabaya 2018 meeting of mayors on this issue. Seeing people do difficult and interesting work around the world to create social impact inspired him to study and work in social science research and data-driven policy.
Thanks to financial aid support from donors, he was granted admission at Yale-NUS College, a liberal arts college established by Yale University and the National University of Singapore. There, he contributed to Assistant Professor Justin D Stern’s research on economic development policy in Philippine cities, and under his supervision later won the Outstanding Capstone Prize in Urban Studies for his work establishing how the emergence of remote work impacts outsourcing and tech workers' locational decisions in post-COVID Philippine economic geography. His training includes coursework on policy, urban design, social theory, research tools, data science, and software engineering.
In 2023, he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a major in Urban Studies and a minor in Mathematical, Computational, and Statistical Sciences (MCS) specialising in Data Science. He was the 2023 recipient of the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal, an award given to the top graduate of the Yale-NUS Bachelor of Arts (BA) programme.
Before joining FCL, he also held internship positions at government relations agency Landmark Public Affairs (now part of Edelman Global Advisory); strategic consultancy Desire Lines; and Urban Studies Lab, a leading interdisciplinary think tank in Thailand. In his work experiences, he drafted policy recommendations for inclusive urban data systems design; developed prototypes for research communications and social work web apps, including a LINE chatbot; and produced communications materials seen by thousands worldwide.
In 2023, Joshua was elected to the Singapore Institute of Planners as a Student Member.


Future Cities Laboratory Global
(May 2023-present)
Research Assistant, Geospatial Planning Support Tools
[AGR] Agropolitan Territories of Monsoon Asia module
Young Urbanists of Southeast Asia
(May 2023-present)
Co-Founder and Co-President
Landmark Public Affairs
(August 2022-May 2023)
Special Adviser
Urban Studies Lab Bangkok
(May 2022-August 2022)
Research & Consultancy Intern
Desire Lines
(August-December 2021)
Research & Editorial Intern
Yale-NUS Society for Academic Research
(December 2020-May 2022)
Founding Director of Multimedia Team
Multimedia Editor, The Diacritic Magazine
Yale-NUS College Urban Studies
(May 2020-May 2021)
Research Assistant to Asst Prof Justin Stern
University of Zurich
(June-July 2019)
Research (Freelance)
JVJP Films
(August 2018-August 2019)
Video Post-Production Lead


Yale-NUS College
(July 2019-May 2023)
Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Summa Cum Laude
Major in Urban Studies
Minor in Mathematical, Computational, and Statistical Sciences (MCS)
CAP (GPA): 4.94/5.0

Featured Coursework: Applied Data Science; Cities & Economic Development; Global and Transnational Urbanism; Methods in the Social Sciences; Smart Cities; Software Engineering; Southeast Asia Urban Planning and Design Workshop; Urban Economics; Urban Spatial Representation
Princeton University
(June-August 2021)
Princeton-in-Beijing Online Intensive Chinese Language Program
Ateneo de Zambanga University Senior High School
(June 2017 - March 2019)
Senior High School Diploma
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Strand
With Honors, AY Foundation National Discipline Awardee

awards & honours

Global Undergraduate Award Regional Winner
(September 2023)
in the category Social Science: Anthropology & Cultural Stuies
for "To Make Global South Children SeeCities through SimCity: Games as Transmitting Hegemonic Urban Imaginaries"
Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal
(June 2023)
Issued by the National University of Singapore
Top graduate, Yale-NUS Bachelor of Arts (Honours) programme
NUS Outstanding Undergraduate Research Prize
(June 2023)
Issued by the National University of Singapore
Best Undergraduate Researcher (Individual)
for "City on the Line? Emergence of Remote Work in the Business Process Outsourcing Industry as a Challenge to Urban Futures in the Philippines"
Outstanding Capstone Prize in Urban Studies
(May 2023)
Issued by Yale-NUS College
Best Capstone in the Urban Studies Major, Yale-NUS College
for "City on the Line? Emergence of Remote Work in the Business Process Outsourcing Industry as a Challenge to Urban Futures in the Philippines"
Student Member, SIP
(April 2023)
Issued by the Singapore Institute of Planners

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