Sustainability Task Force

A leadership group of University of Pittsburgh faculty selected by Pitt's Provost who are committed to advancing sustainability through research, education and outreach.

Mark Abbott

Department Chair, Professor
Paleoclimatology, Geology & Planetary Science

Dr. Mark Abbott received his Biology BS and Geology MS- Department of Geological Sciences the Institute of Artic and Alpine Research from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He later received his PhD in Geology at the University of Minnesota Department of Geology and Geophysics the Limnological Research Center. He serve a Postdoc at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst- Department of Geosciences and the Climate System Research Center. He then came to Pitt in September of 2011. He has done most of his research at interdisciplinary centers, working in collaboration with geologists, biologists, archeologists and chemists. He is a stratigrapher who uses lake sediments to investigate geochemical, biogeochemical and stable isotopic signatures of climate change and human history. Much of his work is focused on drought and glacial history in the Americas with the greater goal of documenting the long-term spatial and temporal patterns of climate change.

Michaël Aklin

Assistant Professor
Political Science

Dr. Aklin is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh, with a secondary appointment in Public Policy at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Previously, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. He obtained his PhD at New York University, an MA at the University of Essex, and a license at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva (Switzerland). He was also a Visiting Scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. 

His work focuses on international and comparative political economy. He is particularly interested in understanding why some countries are able to reduce their vulnerability to major risks such as financial crises or environmental catastrophes. His papers have appeared or are forthcoming in the American Journal of Political ScienceInternational Studies QuarterlyEnvironmental & Resource EconomicsEcological EconomicsGlobal Environmental ChangeEnvironmental Science & Policy, and Environmental Economics & Policy Studies. He has also written columns for the Washington Post's Monkey Cage and Le Temps.

Drew Armstrong

Associate Professor, Director of Architectural Studies

Department of History of Art and Architecture
The impact of human activity on the environment was driven home to Dr. Armstrong as a child during the 1973 energy crisis. In high school, he landed his first architecture job working for a Toronto firm specializing in passive solar heating (1985-89); as an architecture student at the University of Toronto, he spent a summer in Copenhagen (1990) where he enjoyed commuting to work every day on dedicated bike lanes. In graduate school, he worked for the University of Toronto architect (1992-93) and was exposed to the complexity of campus planning and the early use of computer applications in design. The origins of formal architecture education was the basis of his PhD at Columbia University where he studied the French Royal Academy of Architecture, one of the principal European institutions that contributed to defining architecture as a liberal profession. As director of Architectural Studies at Pitt since 2006, he has worked to professionalize the program, developing tracks in design and historic preservation. By 2015, the department will have studio space to accommodate 80 desks and a five-semester sequence of studio courses. The impact of these changes may be gauged by students’ success: in the past seven years, over 60 have gone on to graduate programs in design and preservation at 43 different universities in the United States and Canada. Most recently, Dr. Armstrong was appointed to serve a three-year term (2014-17) on the Board of Directors of the Society of Architectural Historians. 


Daniel Bain

Assistant Professor
Hydrology, Metal Biogeochemistry

Daniel Bain is an assistant professor in the Department of Geology and Planetary Science at the University of Pittsburgh. He received a B.A. from Macalester College and an MS and PhD from Johns Hopkins University. Prior to joining the faculty in 2012, he was a National Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellow at the USGS National Research Program in Menlo Park, California. Bain and his students focus on the comprehensive assessment of human driven changes in environmental systems. Hydrology, geomorphology, biogeochemistry, ecology, and spatial analysis are combined to focus on fundamental landscape components, particularly fluvial (stream) and urban systems, over the last several centuries. 


Eric Beckman

Bevier Professor of Engineering, Director Emeritus, Mascaro Center

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

Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Co-Director, Mascaro Center

Dr. Bilec is an assistant professor in the Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Dr. Bilec’s research program focuses on sustainable healthcare, the built environment, and life cycle assessment. She is interested in improving the overall environmental performance of buildings while connecting the occupants in a more thoughtful manner. She is the Principal Investigator in a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional research project, NSF EFRI-Barriers, Understanding, Integration – Life cycle Development (BUILD). She has worked in the sustainable engineering arena since 2004. As the assistant director of education outreach in the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, Pitt’s center for green design, she translates research to community outreach programs and develops sustainable engineering programs for K-12 education.

John Camillus

Donald R Beall Professor of Strategic Management
Organizations and Entrepreneurship

John C. Camillus has been on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh's Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business since 1977. He has held the Donald R. Beall Endowed Chair in Strategic Management since 1991. In addition to teaching in the MBA and doctoral programs, Camillus has been extensively involved in designing and offering executive education programs for practicing managers in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Prior to joining the University of Pittsburgh, he was Professor of Management at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
Camillus served as Associate Dean - the chief operating officer and chief academic officer of the Katz School-from 1982 to 1990. He also served as Executive Associate Dean in 2007 and 2008.

is research on strategic planning and management control has been funded by diverse organizations including the National Science Foundation, the Touche-Ross Foundation, the Copeland Fund, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, the American Productivity and Quality Center, the University Research Council and the National Energy Technology Laboratory. He has published extensively in professional journals (including Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, Long Range Planning, Management Science, European Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal, and Academy of Management Review). He has also served on editorial boards, authored three books, and coauthored a fourth.

Camillus has served as a consultant to over 80 organizations, including Fortune 500 companies in manufacturing, chemical and energy industries, professional service firms, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations in the arts, museum, education, professional membership, economic development, foundation, religion, and health arenas.
Camillus has been elected to the Sigma Xi scientific research society and the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society, and has been cited three times by the Foundation for Administrative Research for "contributions to corporate and organizational planning."

He is a Trustee of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and serves on the boards of several other organizations including the Andy Warhol Museum and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. His public service has been recognized by the Senate of Pennsylvania and he received the Chancellor's Distinguished Public Service Award in 2006. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India's premier business school in 2011.

Camillus has received numerous awards in recognition of teaching excellence, including the Best Teacher Award at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and the University-wide Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award at the University of Pittsburgh.


Walter Carson

Associate Professor
Plant Community Ecology

Dr. Carson received his Ph. D. in 1993 with Richard Root at Cornell University, performed his postdoctoral studies with David Tilman at the University of Minnesota and Steve Hubbell at Princeton University, and joined the Department in 1994.

Cynthia Danford

Assistant Professor
School of Nursing

Cindy Danford is an assistant professor in the School of Nursing Department of Health Promotion and Development at the University of Pittsburgh. She received a B.S. in nursing from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, a MSN from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, and a PhD from University of California, San Francisco. Prior to joining the faculty in 2012, she completed a research fellowship at University of Michigan. Her program of research focuses on health promotion and illness prevention, using a family-centered approach to help families with young children adopt and sustain healthy eating and activity behaviors. Her research with event history calendars has become valuable in assessing eating and activity behaviors in the context of the family environment. She is a pediatric nurse practitioner with extensive experience conducting research with parents and young children. Her past work in Russia has contributed to her passion for addressing environmental influences on behavior.

Emily M. Elliott

Assistant Professor
Department of Geology and Planetary Science

Dr. Emily M. Elliott is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geology & Environmental Science at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research program examines the tight coupling between human activities and reactive nitrogen distributions in atmosphere, terrestrial and aquatic systems at multiple spatial scales using stable isotope geochemistry. Dr. Elliott is the Director of the Regional Stable Isotope Laboratory for Earth and Environmental Science Research.   Dr. Elliott is a Science & Engineering Ambassador of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and an NSF CAREER awardee.  Prior to joining the Pitt faculty, she received her PhD at Johns Hopkins University (Geography & Environmental Engineering) and was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Division in California. 


Shanti Gamper-Rabindran

Assistant Professor
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

Shanti Gamper-Rabindran is an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) and Department of Economics at the University of Pittsburgh. In 2014 and 2015, she convened a leading group of academics and policy analysts, with in-country expertise on the intersection of energy, environment and development issues, to examine shale development in five continents, culminating in an edited book project. She has presented research in China, the UK, Germany and Italy. Her current research focuses on the political economy barriers and opportunities in the energy transition to renewables and on the cities’ transition to a low carbon economy.  

Her research, which applies GIS and econometrics, to empirically evaluate the effectiveness of policy tools (e.g. corporate social responsibility and information disclosure programs) and the effectiveness of public goods (e.g. piped water provision in Brazil) has been published in leading journals in environmental and development economics. Her research has been funded by the NSF, the NIH and the EPA. She has undertaken work for the EPA, the World Bank and Human Rights Watch Americas.  She has served as the Bley Stein Visiting Professor at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and as a Visiting Associate Professor at Carnegie Mellon University.  

She helped launched the Masters-level program in Energy and the Environment at GSPIA and the university-wide certificates in Global Health. She teaches courses in Economics of Development, Global Energy, Global Environment, Global Health, and Global Economy. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from MIT; she completed an M.Sc. in Environmental Management and a B.A. in Jurisprudence at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. She also holds an A.B. in Economics and in Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard.


Daniel Mosse

Professor and Chair
Computer Science

Daniel Mossé is Professor and Chair of the Computer Science Department at the University of Pittsburgh. His research interests include fault‐tolerant and real‐time systems, as well as networking. The current major thrust of his research is power management issues, real‐time systems, and networks (wireless and security). Power management in mobile and server systems includes software management of existing hardware, such as slowing down processors, using memory efficiently, dynamically reconfiguring networks. Typically funded by NSF, DOE and DARPA, his projects combine theoretical results and actual implementations. He bridges the gap between the operating systems and networking research fields. He received a BS in Mathematics from the University of Brasilia in 1986, and MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science from the University of Maryland in 1990 and 1993, respectively. Dr. Mosse received a Provost's Innovation in Education Grant/Award in 2007 for redesigning the Introductory Programming course for non-majors. He received the Tina and David Bellet Teaching Excellence Award in 2006 (one of two among over 500 faculty members in the School of Arts and Sciences) Dr. Mosse has served on PCs and as PC chair for most major IEEE‐ and ACM‐sponsored real‐time conferences.

Dave V.P. Sanchez

Assistant Director
Education and Outreach

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.

Jeremy Weber

Assistant Professor
Energy and Environment

Jeremy Weber is an Assistant Professor whose teaching and research relate to the Energy and Environment Major. After graduating summa cum laude in International Political Economy from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, Jeremy spent a year in rural Peru researching the workings of coffee grower cooperatives with the support of the Fulbright program. He then began his graduate studies and in 2010 earned his Ph.D. in Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. After working on short-term project for the World Bank, Weber joined the USDA Economic Research Service in August of 2010. While based in Washington Weber taught as an adjunct faculty member for the Master’s Program in Applied Economics at Johns Hopkins University.  

Weber has published more than a dozen articles in journals such as Energy Economics, Resource and Energy Economics, World Development, Land Economics, and the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. Two of his recent articles focus on important issues related to the shale gas boom: “A Decade of Natural Gas Development: The Makings of a Resource Curse?” and “The Effects of a Natural Gas Boom on Employment and Income in Colorado, Texas and Wyoming.” While at the USDA, Weber and two of his colleagues also produced a dataset on “U.S. County-level Oil and Gas Production, 2000-2011."


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