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Core Faculty

Joshua P. Newell, Ph.D.

Joshua Newell joined SNRE in Fall 2010. His research grapples with how to define, measure, model, and assess urban sustainability, particularly from the context of resource consumption. Newell’s research can be divided into two primary areas of interest. The first, Urban Infrastructure and Form, focuses on structural features of the urban form (e.g. built environment, transport, energy, and water infrastructure). The second research area, Urban Consumption and Commodities, focuses on the interrelationships between the consumption of consumer products, our responsibilities as global ‘green’ urban citizens, and the role of governance mechanisms and frameworks (including local institutions) in regulating product consumption. His research approach is often multi-scalar and integrative and, in addition to theory and method found in geography and urban planning, he draws upon principles and tools of industrial ecology, and spatial analysis.

Joshua Newell’s Curriculum Vitae

Affiliate Faculty

Ming Xu, Ph.D.

Current Students

Ph.D. Students

Josh Cousins

Josh CousinsJosh is a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan with research interests in sustainable urban redevelopment projects and the dynamics that shape urban environments over time. Other research interests include urban political ecology, the relations between the built environment and social and environmental sustainability, and urban adaptation to climate change. Previously, as part of his master’s research project, he studied local food and land use in Oregon to show how changes in land use, urban growth, and resource consumption have significant impacts on the sustainability of both urban and rural systems.

 Sara Meerow

Sara is a Ph.D. candidate at SNRE. Her research focuses on building urban resilience in the face of climate change, particularly in coastal megacities like Manila. Sara has a bachelor’s in political science and history from the University of Florida and a master’s in international development studies from the University of Amsterdam. Her master’s research explored policies for small-scale renewable power generation in Thailand and their impact on the resilience of the energy sector. Before coming to Michigan, Sara worked as a junior researcher at the University of Amsterdam, where she was involved in several international research projects relating to urban sustainability, innovation, and renewable energy development. Sara is the graduate coordinator for the Interdisciplinary Workshop on Urban Sustainability and Resilience and chair of the Doctoral Student Organizing Committee (DOC) for SNRE.

Sara Meerow’s CV

 M.S. Students

Brandon List

Brandon is a currently studying in the Sustainable Systems M.S. program at SNRE. His interests are focused around urban sustainability, the built environment, and water systems. Brandon has a BLA from Michigan State University. He worked as a landscape architect and planner for a Detroit based architecture and planning firm for five years prior to attending the University of Michigan. He was involved in a variety of large scale planning project both in Detroit and internationally.

Brandon List’s Resume

Dana Wall


Dana Wall is a Master of Urban Planning and Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Planning dual-degree student. She is also the Sustainability Chair of the Urban Planning Student Association, and recently initiated a zero waste student-led events pilot program in the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Specifically, she is interested in parks and open space planning, and how public spaces shape, and are shaped by, the physical and social fabric of cities. Over the summer, she worked as an intern for the New York City Parks Department, where she worked on various park master plans, and contributed to a flood resiliency best practices document for the City.

Dana Wall’s Resume

Undergraduate Students

Jacob Shapiro

Slide1Jacob is a sophomore Cognitive Science major at the University of Michigan. He worked on a project to identify Detroit’s “hidden social geographies”, mapping footpaths in vacant plots of land throughout the city of Detroit. This research aims to discover the ways in which communities currently use vacant land, with the ultimate goal of informing future initiatives to develop vacant land for purposes like urban agriculture.

Past Students

Mariel Borgman

Mariel is passionate about urban food systems and their role in building healthy, resilient communities. She is particularly interested in urban agriculture and fostering connections between people and the environment through food. While at SNRE, Mariel’s research centered on the land use of vacant lots in Detroit, specifically for urban agriculture and mobility. Mariel served on the leadership team for the University of Michigan Sustainable Food Program, and her SNRE Master’s Project focused on enhancing education and community at the UM Campus Farm. Mariel graduated from SNRE in the spring of 2014 with an M.S. in Behavior, Education, and Communication. Prior to SNRE she earned a B.S. in Sustainable Business and spent three years leading corporate sustainability programs.  Mariel is currently in Asheville, North Carolina, studying urban agriculture hands-on through the Urban Farm School program at Ashevillage Institute.

Mariel Borgman’s Resume

Andrew Fang

Andrew graduated from from the University of Michigan in 2012 with a MS in Sustainable Systems and a ME in Energy Systems Engineering. He will be pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota starting in Fall 2014. His current work focuses on the interactions between water-energy infrastructure, specifically quantifying the emissions associated with urban water consumption in Southern California. He will continue this research at Minnesota in the context of low carbon development in urban environments in India and China.

Andrew Fang’s Resume

 Jordan Garfinkle

Jordan is interested in the science-policy interface, primarily with respect to energy and climate change. As a result of his work with Dr. Newell, he has a growing interest in the ability of cities and states to address pressing environmental issues in the absence of federal policy. Jordan loves being outside, and has tried just about every sport he’s ever encountered (although he’s only been any good at a precious few). He is increasingly concerned about the state of the natural world, but is optimistic about society’s capacity to tackle big challenges. Currently, Jordan is an Analyst with Waste Management Sustainability Services. He is also the founder of

Jordan Garfinkle’s Resume

Katie O’Gara

Slide1Katie is enthusiastic about the implementation of development programs that benefit the participating community, its surrounding environment, and the broader global community. In particular, Katie is focused on international development programs aimed at improving communities’ lives through the conservation of forests. While at SNRE, Katie’s research was based in Tanzania, exploring small-scale equity impacts of global programs such as the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificate. Katie graduated from SNRE in the Spring of 2014 with an M.S. in Conservation Ecology and Environmental Justice. Prior to SNRE she earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Villanova University and spent three years working in fundraising for a Central America-based conservation and development non-profit.

Oh Seok Kim

Oh Seok Kim (O Kim) earned his doctorate in Geography from University of Southern California under the supervision of Professor Josh Newell. Oh’s doctoral research was about measuring carbon footprints of deforestation in China, and, based on his expertise in carbon accounting and spatial methods, Oh has consulted a few carbon offset projects in Southeast Asia and North Korea with researchers at Seoul National University and Korea University. Recently, Oh joined the Korea Environment Institute, the national environmental policy think tank, to plan climate change adaptation strategies for South Korea.

Oh Seok Kim’s Curriculum Vitae

Anne Shishkovsky

Anne graduated from the University of Michigan with Master’s degrees in both Sustainable Systems and Urban Planning. Her Master’s project was focused on improving energy management and sustainability practices at Yellowstone National Park. She previously received a BS in Architecture and worked on historic building renovations in the City of Detroit. Anne currently works as a Community Planner in the Upper Peninsula where she helps to develop plans and economic development projects for rural communities.

Anne Shiskovsky’s Resume

Kerby Smithson

After graduating with a degree in environmental technology from North Carolina State University, Kerby served in the Peace Corps in Bolivia from 2006-08 as a natural resources specialist assigned to the local government of a small, highland town. He graduated from the SNRE in the spring of 2011 with a MS in sustainable systems and worked as an intern with the Clean Energy Coalition in Ann Arbor. Kerby has since moved back to North Carolina and now works as an energy analyst for the City of Asheville’s Office of Sustainability. He works primarily on greenhouse gas accounting, project managing building efficiency upgrades, and using energy and financial data to convince leaders in local government to pursue sustainability goals.

Kerby Smithson’s Resume

John Willard

IMG_2712John, with a background in History and Geographical Information Systems from the University of Washington, is a recent SNRE graduate with a M.S. in Sustainable Systems. During his tenure at the University of Michigan, John worked with the Urban Sustainability Research Group on a range of projects from GIS analysis of green infrastructure in Detroit, urban expansion in the Pacific Northwest, and life-cycle inventory of the water energy nexus in southern California, which he presented at the International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology in Boston, MA. John is currently working as an energy analyst in a bio-energy product development company and as a future mobility consultant.

John Willard’s Resume

Paul Winters

Paul graduated from the M.S. program at SNRE in May, 2014, where he concentrated in conservation ecology. His research interests center on the role of metropolitan communities in regional and landscape-scale conservation and restoration plans. Paul earned his B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, where he studied geography and urban studies. In July, 2014, he will join the environmental branch of the federal Office of Management and Budget as a Program Examiner / Presidential Management Fellow for pesticides, toxic chemicals, and brownfields.