Our Team

Eric J. Beckman

Codirector, Science and Technology
Bevier Professor of Engineering
Eric J. Beckman

Eric Beckman received his BS in chemical engineering from MIT in 1980, and a PhD in polymer science from the University of Massachusetts in 1988. Dr. Beckman assumed his faculty position at the University of Pittsburgh in 1989, was promoted to associate professor in 1994, and full professor in 1997. He received a Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation in 1992, and the Presidential Green Chemistry Award in 2002. He previously served as Associate Dean for Research for the School of Engineering and Chairman of Chemical Engineering. In 2003, Dr. Beckman co-founded the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, a school of engineering institute that examines the design of more sustainable infrastructure. In 2005, he co-founded Cohera Medical Inc. to commercialize surgical adhesive technology developed at the University. Dr. Beckman took an entrepreneurial leave of absence from the University in 2007-2009 to help move the products to market. Dr. Beckman's research group examines the use of molecular design to solve problems in green product formulation and in the design of materials for use in tissue engineering. He has published over 175 papers and has received more than 40 US patents. 

Melissa Bilec

Deputy Director
Melissa Bilec MCSI

Dr. Bilec is an associate professor in the Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; she is the Deputy Director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation.  Dr. Bilec’s research program focuses on the built environment, life cycle assessment, sustainable healthcare, and indoor air impacts.  She is interested in improving system-level environmental performance of buildings, while developing a deeper understanding of indoor environmental quality, occupant impacts, and energy use.  She is the Principal Investigator of a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional research project, NSF EFRI-Barriers, Understanding, Integration – Life cycle Development (BUILD). Dr. Bilec has over 40 journal publications and has secured over $6 million in funding, including 8 National Science Foundation grants.  She has received four education excellence awards.   Dr. Bilec’s work prior to academia included tenure at the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh where she worked on green infrastructure projects, including the conversion of a 100-year bridge into a pedestrian bridge.  Dr. Bilec serves on the Green Building Alliance board.

Kaylie Jones


Kaylie joined the Mascaro Center in May 2016. As our undergraduate student intern, Kaylie assists with several administrative tasks within the office and helps us keep in touch with the student body by representing MCSI at various sustainability-driven clubs and events on campus. Kaylie is pursuing a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Swanson School of Engineering and the interdisciplinary Sustainability Certificate offered through the Mascaro Center. She is also the 2016-2017 president of Engineers for a Sustainable World, a project-based organization that provides students the opportunity to improve sustainability around the campus and the community in a hands-on way.

Gena M. Kovalcik

Codirector, Administration and External Relations

Gena rejoined Pitt's School of Engineering in July 2003 as codirector of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. She has 23 years of experience in development, marketing, and external relations.

Gena previously served as vice president for development at Shady Side Academy and, before that, as senior executive director of development and alumni relations at Pitt's School of Engineering. Prior to working at Pitt's engineering school, she managed donor relations and special events at Carnegie Mellon University. A native of Pittsburgh, she holds a BA from Penn State University in journalism and political science and a Master's of Management and Public Policy with a certificate in nonprofit management from Pitt.

Gena currently serves as a member of the Allegheny County Green Action Team and on the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Green Innovators.

Tess Petropoulos

Office Manager
Tess Petropoulos

Tess joined the Mascaro Center in June 2015 after working in the Department of Immunology and the Stem Cell Research Center at Pitt. She manages all office activities including scheduling, purchasing, and budget management. She also helps with oversight of all Mascaro Center events, including the undergraduate summer program, annual advisory board meeting and the biannual conference; in addition, she assists with marketing efforts, including primary accountability for content on the organization’s Web site. Tess has a BA in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Dave V.P. Sanchez

Assistant Director
Education and Outreach
Dave V.P. Sanchez

David Sanchez is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil/Environmental Engineering. As an IGERT fellow in the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation he received a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Focused on addressing the Energy and Water global grand challenges, he divides his time amongst research projects in the Sustainable Design Labs (e.g. Microbial Fuel Cell electrode materials, Energy Inventor Labs, Recirculating Aquaponic Systems etc).

He also serves as a coordinator for a variety of the Mascaro Center’s Sustainability Initiatives, and Pitt’s Design EXPO. He directs “the Series” workshops and is building new programs and curriculum focused on Sustainable Design and Innovation. He currently teaches Introduction to Sustainable Water Technology and Design and works closely with the ALCOSAN Summer Science, Manchester Charter School, YMCA and Investing Now outreach programs. 

Mascaro Center

Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation
University of Pittsburgh
Swanson School of Engineering
153 Benedum Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15261


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