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People

Melissa Kenney
Director of Knowledge Initiatives at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment

Dr. Melissa A. Kenney is the Associate Director of Knowledge Initiatives at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment where she directs efforts to build synergy across IonE’s broad scientific research portfolio. To achieve this goal, she collaborates with faculty, community partners, the University of Minnesota’s systemwide campuses, and the IonE management team to launch new research efforts in support of the strategic plan.

Dr. Kenney is an environmental decision scientist with expertise in multidisciplinary, team-based science approaches to solving sustainability challenges. Her research program broadly addresses how to integrate both scientific knowledge and societal values into policy decision-making under uncertainty. Her research expertise includes conceptual modeling and decision structuring, indicators, systems analysis, multi-attribute methods, and evaluation of decision support to address environmental policy decisions. These decision support tool and collaborative decision-making processes methods have been applied to a range of topics including participatory global change indicators, setting environmental policy criteria, economic analyses for restoration alternatives assessment, expert elicitation, and value of information of indicators. Over the past decade, this work has led to more than 50 publications; more than $5M in grants awarded; more than 100 invited talks, including at the National Academies of Sciences; multiple invited White House events integrating her research findings; and opportunities to translate scientific findings as policy memos or decision support prototypes to federal agencies and the highest levels of government.

In addition to Dr. Kenney’s multidisciplinary scientific research, she has extensive experience in high-level science policy coordination and relationship building between Federal and academic institutions. In her former role as a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, she played a role in visioning a transboundary climate early warning system in the Columbia River basin, facilitated academic center collaborations via a NOAA and NSF partnership, advised several federal agencies on enhancing their social science research agendas, and recommended methods to quantify the value of Federal programs. In recognition of her public engagement leadership, she was part of the inaugural cohort of AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute Public Engagement Fellow, where she focused on enhancing stakeholder-engaged research to create climate-resilient solutions in the U.S. and Chesapeake Bay region.

Dr. Kenney is also an Associate Research Professor in Environmental Decision Science at the University of Maryland. Previously, she was research faculty in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and a postdoctoral scholar with the National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics at the University of Minnesota and Johns Hopkins University. She earned a Ph.D. from Duke University, focused on integrating water quality and decision models.

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University of Maryland Department of Geographical Sciences Profile

Michael Gerst
Assistant Research Professor

Dr. Michael D. Gerst is an Assistant Research Professor at the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center at the University of Maryland (ESSIC). His scientific work is motivated by helping stakeholders identify problems and solutions at the intersection of the environment, technology, and society. As a result of the complexity of these issues, his approach is rooted in systems, data, and decision science, which together allow for a holistic understanding of current knowledge so that stakeholders may assess trade-offs and risks of potential solutions. Dr. Gerst’s research portfolio has ranged from participatory development of global change indicators, cost-benefit analysis under uncertainty, life-cycle analysis, and scenario planning to designing and testing the efficacy of visualizations. His application areas have spanned climate change mitigation, food-energy-water nexus, critical materials, healthcare systems, and corporate sustainability. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University, focusing on industrial ecology and techo-economic systems analysis.

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ResearchGate

ORCID

ESSIC Profile

Felix Wolfinger
Research Scientist

Felix Wolfinger is a Faculty Research Assistant with a background in social science methodology, policy analysis and business administration. He received a M.S. in environmental science from Duke University, where he studied environmental policy focusing on program evaluation and decision analysis. He previously received a M.B.A. in international business from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, as well as a B.A. in economics from the University of Chicago. Felix has work experience as an analyst with a research and consulting firm focusing on stakeholder decision-making as well as an auditor with a CPA firm. He now uses his diverse background and expertise by leading survey based research initiatives and acting as a project manager for other research projects.


Jose Daniel Teodoro Morales, 2018-

Katie Dorn, 2019-
Jill Freeman, 2019-
Christopher Smith, 2019-
Eniola Awowale, 2018-
Bruce Nairn, 2018-
Greta Easthom, 2018-
Amanda Speciale, 2016-
Cheryl Dombrowski, 2018-

Beatrice O’Connor, 2016-2018
Tyler Ruth, 2017-2018
Riley Cassidy, 2017-2018
Candela Cerpa, 2017-2018
Dean Sproul, 2016-2018
Jason Winik, 2016-2018
Akshata Salehittal, 2016
Meg Cavanagh, 2016
Natalia Jaffee, 2016
Julia Bell, 2016
Carly Brody, 2015-2016
Angelica Li, 2016
Camille Veselka, 2016
Amanda Lamoureux, 2016
Libby Truitt, 2016
Nicole Sadecki, 2016
Allison (Bredder) Baer, 2014-2015
Annibel Rice, 2015
Ariane Robbins, 2015
Jasmine McAdams, 2015
Deseret Weeks, 2015
Ying Deng, 2015
Maria Sharova, 2014-2015
Michael Penansky, 2014
Olivia Poon, 2014
Justin Shaifer, 2014
Naseera Bland, 2013
Jordan McCammon, 2013
Ella Clarke, 2013-2014
Jeremy Ardanuy, 2013
Eric Golman, 2013-2014
Marques Gilliam, 2012-2014
Christian McGillen, 2012-2013
Andres Moreno, 2012
Daniela Martinez, 2008-2009

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