Bioethicist First Levenick Resident Scholar in Sustainability Leadership

AUG. 30, 2019 — Founder and Director of Editing Nature Natalie Kofler is joining the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) as its first Stuart L. and Nancy J. Levenick Resident Scholar in Sustainability Leadership.

Kofler, a molecular biologist and bioethicist, has authored numerous scientific research articles, reviews, and commentary pieces, and chaired international seminars and summits.

Kofler is passionate about ensuring diverse voices and viewpoints steer science and technology.

“At Editing Nature, we think a lot about how to tap into collective wisdom to steer responsible technological development,” Kofler said. “I am so excited to learn from and collaborate with the faculty and students at U of I. Together, I think we can come up with some really innovative ways to integrate cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives and address some of our most pressing environmental challenges.”

The Levenick Resident Scholars in Sustainability Leadership Program was funded by a generous endowment in early 2019 from U of I Alumnus Stuart Levenick and wife Nancy Levenick of Naples, Fla., to iSEE and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES). It was created to bring in experts from other universities, the private sector, and nonprofit organizations to share fresh perspectives and innovations with the Illinois community.

Kofler’s work with Editing Nature advances and supports the responsible and ethical decisions guiding the development of genetic technologies released into the environment.

“We are excited to have Natalie on board as our first Resident Scholar,” iSEE Baum Family Director Evan H. DeLucia said. “She is known for engaging experts from different backgrounds worldwide to examine wicked sustainability and environmental issues — those that don’t have a simple answer and affect multiple stakeholders. She was a vital, vibrant voice during our Critical Conversation on genetically modified mosquitoes this past spring, and we feel there is much more we at Illinois can learn from her expertise.

“Scientists, educators, and students on campus will have access this year to a unique thought leader who takes a very holistic approach to her work.”

During her time at iSEE, Kofler will also serve on the Editorial Board for Magazine, a publication of the Undergraduate Certificate in Environmental Writing (CEW) at Illinois. Also among her academic duties, she is delivering a MillerComm Lecture on Nov. 7 in the Spurlock Museum Auditorium. And she is teaching a graduate-level seminar in NRES in Spring 2020.

In early Spring 2020, NRES expects to name a Levenick Sustainability Chair, the Department’s first endowed chair, who will oversee the Resident Scholars Program.

With backgrounds from a variety of disciplines, Resident Scholars will enhance and accelerate the broader impact of sustainability research and innovation, DeLucia said. As the Levenick Chair leads the program, it will help “close the circle” on sustainability efforts already established among the College of ACES, iSEE, and NRES.

“This campus will become a destination for worldwide sustainability experts — offering them creative opportunities and exposing faculty, students, and staff on our campus to real-time sustainability solutions from across the globe,” DeLucia said.

Read more about the new program >>>