The Levenick iSEE Fellows Program
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
The Levenick iSEE Fellows Program accomplishes iSEE’s goal of actionable research — that is, work that leads to lasting, real-world solutions to the world’s current and future sustainability-, energy- and environment-related issues.
Created by a gift from Stuart L. and Nancy J. Levenick of Peoria in 2014, the Levenick iSEE Fellows Fund will support the Institute through Research Fellows, Instructional Fellows, Teaching Sustainability Fellows, and Scholars. Illinois faculty Fellows and student Scholars will research — and teach about — specific problems of campus and global sustainability.
By its very nature, Fellows’ work will also support iSEE’s goals in the areas of campus sustainability, education, and outreach, as they seek solutions for campus issues, teach students and colleagues, and communicate about the great need for more sustainable practices.
2021-22 Teaching Sustainability Fellow Bryan Endres
Bryan Endres is a Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics. He researches the impact of law throughout food and bio-products supply chains and develops solutions to improve regulatory outcomes.
The Levenick funding will help Endres add to an existing course titled “Food and Law.”
2021-22 Teaching Sustainability Fellow Ali Freter
Ali Freter is Interim Director of the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences Study Abroad Program. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
The Levenick funding will help Freter add to an existing course titled “First-Year Experience Program.”
2021-22 Teaching Sustainability Fellow Jiajun He
Jiajun He is a Teaching Assistant Professor of Mechanical Science and Engineering. He researches petroleum engineering, energy, carbon capture, and porous materials.
The Levenick funding will help He create a new course titled “Carbon Capture and Storage.”
2021-22 Teaching Sustainability Fellow Roman Makhnenko
Roman Makhnenko is an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He researches fluid-saturated geomaterials, deep carbon dioxide and nuclear waste storage, geothermal energy exploration, gas shales, and hydraulic fracturing.
The Levenick funding will help Makhnenko add to the existing “GeoEnergy Systems” course.
2021-22 Teaching Sustainability Fellow Eman Saadah
Eman Saadah is a Professor of Linguistics. She is also Director of the Less Commonly Taught Languages Program, Director and Language Coordinator of Arabic, and Advisor for the Minor in Arabic Studies.
The Levenick funding will help Saadah add to an existing course titled “Language and Culture of the Arab World.”
2021-22 Teaching Sustainability Fellow Ann Sychterz
Ann Sychterz is an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She researches cable and tensile structures, optimized sensor placement for civil structures, structural dynamics, machine learning and robotics, and damage mitigation and risk assessment in large-scale structures.
The Levenick funding will help Sychterz add to an existing course titled “Design of Structural Systems.”
2021-22 Teaching Sustainability Fellow Renata Endres
Renata Endres is an Instructor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics. She received her Ph.D. in Economics in 2015 from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.
The Levenick iSEE Teaching Fellowship funding will help Endres create a new course titled “Recreation and Tourism Economics.”
2021-22 Teaching Sustainability Fellow Ramez Hajj
Ramez Hajj is an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He researches the mechanical fundamentals that drive behavior of infrastructure materials, especially for transportation.
The Levenick funding will help Hajj add to an existing course titled “Asphalt Materials.”
2021-22 Teaching Sustainability Fellow Samantha Lindgren
Samantha Lindgren is an Assistant Professor of Education. As a student, she was involved in iSEE’s Sun Buckets research project, helping create and market a cookstove that uses stored solar energy.
The Levenick funding will help Lindgren create a new course titled “Education for Global Sustainability.”
2021-22 Teaching Sustainability Fellow Ripan Malhi
Ripan Malhi is a Professor of Anthropology. His research uses molecular tools to address questions of interest in the life sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
The Levenick funding will help Malhi create a new course titled “Transforming Science from Colonial to Sustainable Practice.”
2021-22 Teaching Sustainability Fellow Chadly Stern
Chadly Stern is an Assistant Professor of Psychology. His research broadly examines how belief systems — including political belief systems — and motivations guide the way that people perceive and interact with the world.
The Levenick funding will help Stern add to an existing course titled “Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination.”
2021-22 Teaching Sustainability Fellow Roderick Wilson
Roderick Wilson is an Assistant Professor of History and East Asian Languages and Cultures. He researches social and environmental history of Japan and East Asia — including the intersection of people and their local habitats in Tokugawa and modern Japan.
The Levenick funding will help Wilson add to an existing course titled “Intro to Japanese Culture.”
Former Instructional Fellows
Jeremy Guest (2016-17, 20) is an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He received a B.S. and M.S. in civil engineering from Bucknell University and Virginia Tech, respectively, and a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the University of Michigan.
His research focuses on the development of technologies for sustainable water and sanitation, with a focus on resource recovery from bodily excreta in technologically advanced and developing communities. His team integrates experimentation, modeling, and sustainable design to prioritize and pursue technology development pathways.
Madhu Khanna (2016-20) is the ACES Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics (ACE) at Illinois and the Acting Director at iSEE. She established the Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Fellows Program in 2015 as the Associate Director for Education & Outreach.
Khanna received her Ph.D. (1995) and M.S. (1991) in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California at Berkeley. Her primary area of interest is examining the motivations for producers to adopt innovative production technologies to meet demands for food and fuel, such as precision farming, biofuels, and participation in conservation programs.
Ken Paige (2017-18) is a Professor of Evolutionary Ecology in the Department of Animal Biology at Illinois and holds affiliate appointments in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences and the Illinois Natural History Survey, a division of the Prairie Research Institute.
His research interests are broad, spanning the range from the molecular to the interactions of organisms, with a strong evolutionary perspective. A major emphasis is molecular genetic mechanisms that mediate ecological interactions, with particular interest in plant-herbivore interactions. He is a founding member of the Program in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation (PEEC) Biology at Illinois.
Jeffery Roesler (2017-18) is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at Illinois. He is also that Department’s IL-American Concrete & Pavement Association Faculty Scholar. He holds B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has been on the CEE faculty since August 2000; prior to coming to Illinois, he was a Visiting Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University of California at Berkeley.
His research is primarily focused on construction materials and transportation engineering — with a specialty in concrete. Roesler has taught classes for undergraduates and graduates in pavement engineering, and served as consultant to a number of construction and materials companies.
Lulu Rodriguez (2016-18) was the Director of the Agricultural Communications Program in the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences at Illinois. She received her B.Sc. degree in Development Communication from the University of the Philippines, her M.S. in Communication from Cornell University, and her Ph.D. in Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
She has more than 20 years of experience in communication education, research, and outreach initiatives in support of national and international development programs. She designs, implements, and evaluates the impact of communication campaigns related to agriculture, renewable energy, the environment, food safety and food security. Her research focuses on the communication of risks related to scientific and technological breakthroughs, investigating people’s basic mental models of hazard and their opinions about innovations that cause controversies or may be perceived as risky.
Lance Schideman (2019) is a Research Scientist in the Applied Research on Industrial Environmental Systems (ARIES) Group at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC, a Division of the Prairie Research Institute). Before his current post, Schideman was an Assistant Professor in Agricultural and Biological Engineering.
Among his research interests are water and wastewater treatment, and bioenergy recovery from waste.
Michelle Wander (2016-19) is a Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES). She works with farmers, educators, and policymakers to quantify the benefits of diversified and organic production, precision conservation and woody perennial polycultures, and determine how standards, voluntary marketing, and decision support tools can encourage soil stewardship.
Her research interests are in agroecology and agricultural sustainability. She studies the influence of management (tillage and cover crops, perennials, organic farming systems; crop rotation and fertilization) on soils, organic matter and system performance with emphasis on nutrient cycling, plant-soil relations, roots and physical protection of organic matter, soil conservation and alternative methods for soil testing
2020-21 Levenick Teaching Sustainability Fellows Cohort
Alison Anders is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geology. Her research interests include the interactions between climate, erosion, and tectonics with a focus on orographic precipitation and anthropogenic influences on landscape evolution.
The Levenick funding helped Anders develop a course titled “GIS for Geology and Environmental Science.”
Kim Curtis is an Adjunct Lecturer in the Department of Theatre. She specializes in costume design at Illinois.
The Levenick funding helped Curtis develop a course titled “Theater Design and Production,” incorporating sustainability into costume design and production as well as scenic painting and construction, props, lighting, sound, and possibly even writing and direction.
Sean Kennedy is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban + Regional Planning. His research analyzes the relationship between environmental planning and regional development, with an emphasis on how urban sustainability initiatives shape economies and livelihoods in rural and peri-urban regions.
The Levenick funding helped Kennedy develop a course titled “Food and the City,” a critical examination of the relationship between urban food systems, social movements, and sustainability.
Eleftheria Kontou is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Her research interests include transportation planning, electrification and emerging vehicle technologies operations, as well as transportation and energy sectors interdependencies.
The Levenick funding helped Kontou develop a course titled “Urban Transportation Models,” a critical examination of the relationship between urban food systems, social movements, and sustainability.
Daniel Schneider is a Professor in the Department of Urban + Regional Planning. He is an ecologist and environmental historian whose research focuses on the interrelations between natural and human systems in planning and management.
The Levenick funding helped Schneider develop a course titled “FAA 230: Sustainable Design of the Built Environment,” a core course in the newly created B.S. in Sustainable Design program in the College of Fine and Applied Arts.
Andrew Stillwell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research expertise is in power and energy systems with a specialization in power electronics.
The Levenick funding helped Stillwell incorporate sustainability, life cycle management, land use considerations, and public policy implications into “ECE 330: Green Electric Energy.”
Chiara Vincenzi is an Adjunct Instructor in the School of Art + Design. An Italian fashion designer and educator, she is expanding the fashion curriculum at Illinois.
The Levenick funding helped Vincenzi develop a course titled “ARTS 321: Sustainable Fashion Development & Branding,” providing the tools for conscious, ethical choices during development of a sustainable fashion collection, from design to production and promotion.
Andrew Wilson is a Teaching Associate in Social Studies at University Laboratory High School. He teaches World History, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, and Introduction to Psychology.
The Levenick funding helped Wilson incorporate sustainability — emphasizing the ways in which global climate systems drive historic human behavior — into his World History course.
2019-20 Levenick Teaching Sustainability Fellows Cohort
Eric Benson is an Associate Professor and Chair of Graphic Design in the School of Art + Design. He received his MFA in Design from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006.
His research and teaching at Illinois laid the foundation to create the Fresh Press Agri-Fiber Paper Lab. Fresh Press explores the potential of papermaking to be zero waste, environmentally sustainable, and a catalyst for a thriving local economy. His Levenick iSEE Fellowship was used to develop ARTD 451: Ethics of a Designer in a Global Economy.
Warren Lavey is an Adjunct Professor of Law and Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES) at Illinois. He received his J.D. in 1979 at Harvard University.
His research interests are in regulatory models to mitigate climate change; environmental policy advocacy; and designing and implementing clean energy and energy efficiency programs. His Levenick iSEE Fellowship was used to develop ESE 466: Climate Change, Law and Health.
J. Cory Pettijohn is a Research Assistant Professor of Geology and a Teaching Assistant Professor in the School of Earth, Society & Environment. He received his Ph.D. in Earth Sciences (Hydrology) from Boston University in 2008.
In addition to researching hydrology, drought, evapotranspiration, and land use, he works with cutting-edge online pedagogy. His Levenick iSEE Fellowship was used to develop GLBL 298/ESE 389: Food Systems Sustainability.
Melissa Prescott is an Assistant Professor of School/Childhood Foods and Nutrition. She received her Ph.D. in Public Health from New York University in 2015.
Her research is on the impact of farm-to-school programs on student diet quality and food waste. She promotes health equity and food security through her research on low income families’ utilization of fresh fruit and vegetables in food pantries. Her Levenick iSEE Fellowship was used to develop a new Food Science & Human Nutrition (FSHN) course titled FSHN 499: Environmental Impacts of Food & Nutrition Systems.
Dr. Holly Rosencranz is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine. She received her M.D. from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1982.
Her Levenick iSEE Fellowship was used to develop ESE 466: Climate Change, Law and Health.
Nekita Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design. She received her MFA in Visual Studies from the University at Buffalo in 2015.
She works primarily with themes of perspective identity, race and representation, racial equity, commodity, media, popular culture, urbanism, and resiliency to focus on the analysis, explication, and disruption of racially driven exclusionary and oppressive sociocultural practices. Her Levenick iSEE Fellowship was used to develop ARTD 451: Ethics of a Designer in a Global Economy.
Yun Kyu Yi is an Assistant Professor of Architecture. He received his Ph.D. in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008.
His research and teaching expertise is in environmental and sustainable architecture and technology, computational building modeling and simulation, building performance evaluation, and indoor occupants’ behavior. His Levenick iSEE Fellowship was used to develop a new Architecture course titled ARCH 576: Building Energy Use.
Former Levenick Research Fellows
Erica Myers (2017-18) is an Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics (ACE) at Illinois. She received her Ph.D. in Environmental and Resource Economics from the University of California Berkeley in 2014. Prior to her doctoral studies, she worked as a Research Assistant at Resources for the Future from 2007 to 2009.
Her primary area of interest is in environmental and energy economics. She has done work on the design and implementation of carbon allowance markets and testing for the presence of market failures that may lead to under-investment in energy efficiency. Recently, her work has focused on the salience of energy costs in home rental and purchase decisions and its implications for investment in energy efficiency.
Mateus Nogueira Meirelles de Souza (2017-18) received his bachelor’s degree in 2014 in economics from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. During his undergraduate studies, he was involved in research projects related to economic growth and pollution emissions. As a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics (ACE) at Illinois, de Souza is now pursuing specialization in environmental and natural resource economics.
His research interests include topics related to energy efficiency and technology adoption. He is currently investigating the possible causes of low rates of adoption of energy-efficient technologies in U.S. households.
2021-22 TEACHING SUSTAINABILITY PROJECTS
In March 2021, iSEE named its third cohort of Levenick iSEE Teaching Sustainability Fellows, offering grants to 12 instructors to implement sustainability in current courses or to create new courses directly tied to sustainability. The courses:
- “Food and Law” (Bryan Endres)
- “Recreation and Tourism Economics” (Renata Endres)
- ACES “First-Year Experience Program” (Ali Freter)
- “Asphalt Materials” (Ramez Hajj)
- “Carbon Capture and Storage” (Jiajun He)
- “Education for Global Sustainability” (Samantha Lindgren)
- “GeoEnergy Systems” (Roman Makhnenko)
- “Transforming Science from Colonial to Sustainable Practice” (Ripan Malhi)
- “Language and Culture of the Arab World” (Eman Saadah)
- “Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination” (Chadly Stern)
- “Design of Structural Systems” (Ann Sychterz)
- “Intro to Japanese Culture” (Roderick Wilson)
2020-21 Teaching Sustainability Projects
In Spring 2020, iSEE named its second cohort of Levenick iSEE Teaching Sustainability Fellows, offering grants to eight instructors to implement sustainability in current courses or to create new courses directly tied to sustainability. The courses:
- ARTS 321: Sustainable Fashion Development & Branding (Chiara Vincenzi)
- ECE 330: Green Electric Energy (Andrew Stillwell)
- FAA 230: Sustainable Design of the Built Environment (Daniel Schneider)
- Food and the City (Sean Kennedy)
- GIS for Geology and Environmental Science (Alison Anders)
- Theater Design and Production (Kim Curtis)
- Urban Transportation Models (Eleftheria Kontou)
- World History (Andrew Wilson)
2019-20 Teaching Sustainability Projects
In Spring 2019, iSEE named its first cohort of Levenick iSEE Teaching Sustainability Fellows, offering grants to seven instructors seeking to implement sustainability in current courses on the University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus or to create new courses directly tied to sustainability. The courses:
- ARTD 451: Ethics of a Designer in a Global Economy (Eric Benson and Nekita Thomas)
- ESE 466: Climate Change, Law and Health (Warren Lavey and Dr. Holly Rosencranz)
- GLBL 298/ESE 389: Food Systems Sustainability (J. Cory Pettijohn)
- FSHN 499: Environmental Impacts of Food & Nutrition Systems (Melissa Prescott)
- ARCH 576: Building Energy Use (Yun Kyu Yi)
Past Research Projects
Behavioral Interventions for Campus Energy Consumption
According to Levenick Research Fellow Erica Myers:
“Fuel costs — particularly in a campus setting — are often not well understood or salient for consumers. Students, faculty, and staff do not see billing or consumption information, making it difficult to translate use of particular energy services into costs. As a result, energy consumption is often ‘out of sight, out of mind’ as we go through our busy days on campus.
“The goal of our research is to identify behavioral interventions that can be used to reduce campus energy consumption. First, we will work with engineers and building managers on campus to identify behavioral energy savings opportunities related to office and classroom heating and cooling, electronics and lighting. Then we will design and test the relative effectiveness of behavioral interventions such as educational campaigns, usage information provision, and social comparisons for taking advantage of savings opportunities and reducing energy consumption.
“Our findings will be shared with University of Illinois stakeholders, presented at academic conferences, and made publicly available in a University white paper. Our results will not only be relevant for the U of I in meeting its campus sustainability goals, but for other campus and commercial settings where energy use is not well understood or salient for consumers.”
To begin the project, collecting data about campus energy consumers and building-by-building energy use was essential. In an interview with Illinois Tech Services, Myers and Souza talk about their first approaches to measuring campus energy behaviors >>>
Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Fellows Program Capstone Course (ENVS 492)
This fall course is the capstone experience to the Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Fellows Program — a campuswide minor in sustainable problem solving. In this final piece of the minor degree, students will apply sustainability assessment tools, such as life-cycle analysis, cost-benefit methods and impact analysis to real-world world problems related to sustainability of campus and/or the community to be developed in collaboration with campus, Facilities & Services, local sustainability planners, private firms and non-government organizations. Field site visits will be arranged during regular class time to and to visit local buildings, businesses, civil and environmental infrastructure facilities. Course activities are a blend of case study discussion, problem identification, site visits, and analysis. Team projects will develop collaboration, communication, and project management skills.
Tools for Sustainability (ENVS 301)
This spring course is the introductory class for the SEE Fellows Program. ENVS 301 teaches systems-thinking skills to enable better understanding of the different dimensions of sustainability — and the problems and trade-offs involved in achieving that sustainability. Students learn about metrics for measuring sustainability and gain competence in tools such as cost-benefit and life-cycle analyses needed to compare the sustainability of different technologies and development options. The course also emphasizes communications skills, enabling students to articulate about the integrated dimensions of sustainability within an interdisciplinary setting.
News from the Levenick Fellows
Jeffrey Brawn, former Head of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, is the department’s inaugural named chair.
Join the second cohort of Levenick Teaching Sustainability Fellows!
Founder and Director of Editing Nature Natalie Kofler is joining the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment.