Our Team




Eric J. Beckman

Codirector, Science and Technology
Bevier Professor of Engineering
412-624-4828
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
412-648-8075
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.

Gena M. Kovalcik

Codirector, Administration and External Relations
412-624-9698
gk

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
412-624-6718
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
412-624-0056
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. 

Lauren Schlusser

Sustainability Intern
Lauren Schlusser MCSI

 

In my book, sustainability and innovation are synonymous. Innovation utilizes stakeholder interests to drive sustainable practices in business and policy. As a student in the Environmental Studies and Political Science fields, I look at how science merges with the public and private sectors to generate change. As Vice-President of the Food Recovery Heroes, a campus organization that limits food waste and feeds the local community, I implement my classroom knowledge combined with a focus on human capital to inspire students to take action in sustainability. While trying to balance these converging interests, I feel that it is important to stay mindful and true to my roots, so I enjoy hiking, gardening and painting in my free time. 

 

Mascaro Center

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

mcsi@pitt.edu

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