Leadership

 

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Executive Director

Melissa Bilec, PhD
William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Co-Director, MCSI
Pitt STRIVE Director of Faculty Community Building and Engagement for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Dr. Bilec is a published and well-regarded expert in life cycle assessment (LCA) and works to advance LCA through method development. She is personally interested in high-impact research that addresses significant societal challenges through innovative research approaches. Currently her focus is solving the global plastic waste challenge through the advancement and development of circular economy principles.

At a local level, she collaborates with local businesses and communities to promote ambient and indoor air quality awareness through air quality monitoring, civic engagement, and citizen science. These projects include the Pittsburgh 2030 District, an internationally recognized, locally-driven strategic initiative of the Green Building Alliance (GBA) which supports building owners and managers as they strive toward 50% reductions in energy use, water consumption, and transportation emissions by 2030, while improving indoor air quality.

Dr. Bilec has published more than 140 peer reviewed articles and secured over $12 million in funding, including 15 National Science Foundation grants. She has received four education excellence awards, and she developed a new M.S. in Sustainable Engineering degree and co-developed a university-wide undergraduate certificate in sustainability. Dr. Bilec is committed to diversity, inclusion, and equity, and serves on the Engineering Diversity Advisory Committee and NSF Pitt STRIVE Leadership team, as well as co-faculty advisor for Pitt Society for Women Engineering.

Her other research interests include a first-of-its-kind research study to examine infant birth using LCA, and an LCA of the Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Dr. Bilec has published 135 peer review papers: 82 journal articles and 53 conference proceedings and has secured $9.25 million in funding, including 14 National Science Foundation grants and three supplements. She has received four education excellence awards, and she developed a new M.S. in Sustainable Engineering degree and co-developed a university-wide undergraduate certificate in sustainability. Dr. Bilec is committed to diversity, inclusion, and equity, and serves on the Engineering Diversity Advisory Committee and NSF Pitt STRIVE Leadership team, as well as co-faculty advisor for Pitt Society for Women Engineering. 

Dr. Bilec’s work prior to academia focused on green infrastructure projects, including the conversion of a 100-year bridge into a pedestrian bridge.

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Director

Eric Beckman, PhD
Distinguished Service Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
Director Emeritus and Chief of Innovation and Translation, MCSI

Dr. Beckman received his BS in chemical engineering from MIT in 1980, and PhD in polymer science from the University of Massachusetts in 1988. He began his Pitt career 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, and has published over 175 papers and has received more than 40 US patents. 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 through support from alumnus John C. "Jack" Mascaro. 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. 

In 2005, he co-founded Cohera Medical Inc. to commercialize surgical adhesive technology developed at the University, and took an entrepreneurial leave of absence from the University in 2007-2009 to help move the products to market. This experience is at the heart of his passion to help undergraduates at the Swanson School understand the impact of innovation and translation early in their studies. 

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Key Project Coordinator

Gena Kovalcik 
Co-Director, MCSI

Ms. Kovalick holds a BA from Penn State University in journalism and political science and a Masters’ Degree in Management and Public Policy with a certificate in nonprofit management from Pitt. She was an integral part of the management of University of Pittsburgh’s previous IGERT program in sustainable engineering and has 15 years of experience in project management at Pitt.