2020 Board of Directors Nominees

The USSEE Board of Directors is pleased to announce the nominees for the 2020 Board Elections. The following nominees are for 5 available positions: President Elect (2 nominees), two At-Large Member Positions (3 nominees), Graduate Student Member (3 nominees), and Undergraduate Student Member (2 nominees). Nominees are presented by position in alphabetical order. Elections will open Thursday May 28th and run through Friday June 6th. Please note, your ISEE/USSEE membership must be up-to-date to vote!

After reading the candidate bios and statements below, use this link to cast your votes: https://forms.gle/adBwhWK98QPERj4T6

President Elect

John Polimeni

John Polimeni is an Associate Professor of Economics at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He received his B.S. in Mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a M.A. in Economics and a Certificate of Graduate Studies in Regulatory Economics from S.U.N.Y. at Albany, and a Ph.D. in Ecological Economics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He was awarded a Fulbright Senior Fellowship to Romania, where he is a Honorary Member of the Institute of Economic Forecasting in the National Institute of Economic Research in the Scientific Council of the Romanian Academy. His area of research is on the intersection of the environment and economic development, typically focused on energy economics, sustainable agriculture, and technology. He has received several research grants on his work in the area of economic development and the environment. John has published 60 peer-reviewed research articles, published four books, and eleven chapters in edited books. He has presented his research 81 times at international conferences with an additional eleven conference abstracts or posters. In addition, he serves or has served on 14 editorial boards of academic journals. John is a reviewer for the Romanian Fulbright Commission and serves as a reviewer for numerous academic journals. Lastly, John has been elected to two terms of the Schenectady (N.Y.) City Council and is on the Board of Trustees for miSci – the Museum of Innovation and Science.

Candidacy Statement: I am fortunate to have a Ph.D. in Ecological Economics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. As a result, I was introduced to ecological economics early on in my academic studies. I was taught, and believe, that at its heart ecological economics is a transdisciplinary field which is necessary to solve the intricate issues and problems that we face as a global community. What I saw and experienced in those early years of the organization’s existence was a broad umbrella that brought together people from varied backgrounds and ideas. The common thread was that each wanted, in their own way, to solve or address an issue related to sustainability and the environment. However, over the years that broad umbrella has narrowed and groups splintered off. The acceptance of different ideas and way of thinking slowly went away and the organization has seen its membership numbers and importance decline.

We face uncertain times ahead and all our futures are in a state of uncertainty. Our climate, our health, and our sustained existence are all open questions. Now, more than ever, we need knowledge, we need solutions, and for those to spread. The real significance of organizations such as the USSEE are the unexpected interactions and the subsequent collaborations that will result in the spread of knowledge and ideas. As a global community, our fates are entangled and the best way to get through these tough times is for all of us to work together. 

The USSEE should be in a leadership role in solving our environmental and climate problems, yet it is not. As President-elect one of my objectives will be to make the USSEE more visible, an important player in the policy debate. To accomplish this task membership must increase. The umbrella for the organization must be opened to allow more diversity of thought. The outcome will be the debate of ideas, the spread of knowledge, and collaboration to solve the tough issues we are facing. I am grateful for the opportunity I have been provided to participate on the USSEE Membership Committee and look forward to expanding the outreach efforts that have already been made. Lastly, we must develop the next generation of ecological economists by cultivating undergraduate and graduate level experiences and educational opportunities. 

To accomplish these objectives we must remember the giants of whose shoulders we stand: Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Kenneth Boulding, Rachel Carson, Donella Meadows, Herman Daly, John Gowdy, Kozo Mayumi and the list goes on. It will be my privilege and honor to serve the USSEE as President Elect. Together we can, and we must, make a difference.

Laura Schmitt Olabisi

Dr. Laura Schmitt Olabisi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Community Sustainability and the Environmental Science and Policy Program at Michigan State University. She is an ecologist and a participatory systems modeler, working directly with stakeholders to build models that foster adaptive learning about the dynamics of coupled human-natural systems, and to integrate stakeholder knowledge with academic knowledge. She has worked in communities in Southeast Asia, West Africa, and the United States on a range of issues in agriculture, food and natural resources. Laura holds a doctoral degree in Systems Ecology from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and a B.Sc. in Environmental Science from Brown University. She was a AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute Public Engagement Fellow in 2018-19, and is currently a board member of the Academy for Systems Change (formerly the Donella Meadows Institute), a non-profit organization dedicated to training systems leaders for sustainability transformations in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors (academyforchange.org). Laura served on the USSEE board from 2012-2016 and as conference chair for the USSEE meeting in 2017.

Candidacy Statement: I am writing this statement in the middle of a pandemic that has disrupted nearly all of our global social systems, while recalibrating the human relationship with the ecological systems on which we depend. If there ever was a time for the world to hear the message of Ecological Economics on promoting human wellbeing within the limits of earth’s living systems, that time is now. In the middle of a global lockdown, we mourn the tens of thousands who have died, and paradoxically celebrate the cleanest air in decades in Los Angeles, Milan and Nairobi. In looking for a way forward, we dread the higher emissions from lower US auto standards, just as we welcome the city of Amsterdam’s proposal to adopt a post-Covid19 development plan based on the ‘doughnut model’ articulated by ecological economist Kate Raworth. These are interesting times that call for big ideas.

The USSEE is a small society with big ideas. If those ideas are to be heard in an increasingly cluttered landscape, the times call on us to focus on solutions and seek partnerships. USSEE has already been working with EE chapters and with the Ecological Society of America to put on conferences. We can seek out new synergies with academic organizations and other nonprofits with complementary missions similar to ours, and we can share ideas with partner organizations that will implement them. Students and junior scholars are attracted to science that impacts the real world, and I believe that USSEE can offer that more than most academic organizations. 

USSEE was the first academic society I joined before completing my Ph.D. As an ecologist concerned with human wellbeing, it was one of the only academic spaces where the issues I studied and cared about were being discussed. In the past, I have served the society as a Board member and conference organizer, and I am looking forward to USSEE’s next chapter. I would be honored to help lead the society in this turbulent, challenging, and promising time.

Board Member at Large (2 positions)

Leah Bremer

Dr. Leah Bremer is an Environmental Science and Policy Specialist with the University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization (UHERO) and the Water Resources Research Center (WRRC). She focuses on interdisciplinary, applied, and problem-driven research related to water and watershed policy and management in Hawaiʻi and Latin America.  She views social and environmental challenges and solutions as intricately inter-connected and works with collaborative teams of researchers, community groups, agencies, non-profits, and others to co-produce knowledge with the goal of informing effective and equitable decision making. Her work broadly focuses on three inter-related themes: 1) illuminating the links between people and the environment through various lenses, including ecosystem services, biocultural restoration of agroecological systems, and inclusive valuation; 2) improving land and water management decisions to account for the multiple ways people use and value these resources, including through links to groundwater dependent ecosystems; and 3) critical evaluation of the social and ecological outcomes of ecosystem services policies and programs, including water funds in Latin America, with the goal of improving program effectiveness and equity. In addition to her split appointment with UHERO and WRRC, she is also cooperating faculty with a number of University of Hawaiʻi departments and initiatives including the Department of Geography and Environment, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, and the Biocultural Initiative of the Pacific, as well as a board member for the Hawaiʻi Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology. She is also a Gund Institute of the Environment (University of Vermont) affiliate and a research fellow with Fundación Cordillera Tropical, an NGO in Ecuador that she worked with for many years. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University, her M.S. in Conservation Biology from Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand), her Ph.D. in Geography from UC-Santa Barbara and San Diego State University, and was a Post Doctoral Researcher with the Natural Capital Project at Stanford University.

Candidacy Statement: As a Human-Environment Geographer by training, I am fascinated by the interconnections between social and ecological systems and committed to working towards a more sustainable and just world. I am eager to join USSEE as a board member at large in order to learn and contribute to the integration of ecological economics concepts and practices in research, teaching, management, and policy. I believe this is a critical time in history where we need transdisciplinary approaches to transform the world we live in, and that ecological economics offers a powerful lens to do so. As a board member, I would contribute my diverse experience working in the fields of ecosystem services, watershed conservation, social-ecological systems, and political ecology to the table, and help to facilitate discussions of how ecological economics concepts and approaches could be applied in community-based research and management as well as public policy. 

Georgia Mavrommati

Dr. Georgia Mavrommati is an Assistant Professor of Ecological Economics in the School for the Environment at University of Massachusetts Boston. She received her Master in Economic Theory and Policy from University of Crete and her PhD in ecological economics from Panteion University where she served as the Greek contact point of the European Society of Ecological Economics. After completing graduate school, Georgia was a Postdoctoral scholar in the Center for Water Sciences at Michigan State University and afterwards in the Environmental Studies Program at Dartmouth College. Her research focuses on the interface of the economy with the environment. In particular, the dependency of socioeconomic process on ecosystems and the provision to society of ecosystem services attracts her main interest. In her work, she is collaborating with scientists from a variety of disciplines (e.g. decision scientists, aquatic ecologists, forest ecologists, climate scientists) to characterize and value ecosystem services at the watershed level. This research addresses some practical challenges of conventional valuation methods through the development and application of a novel framework based on a deliberative multicriteria method into which sustainability considerations are incorporated and community engagement is ensured. Her teaching is concentrated in the fields of environmental policy and management, sustainable development and coupled social-ecological system dynamics. Her work has been published in several peer-reviewed papers and she recently founded the Ecological Economics and Systems Lab at UMass Boston.

Candidacy Statement: I am excited by the possibility of continuing to serve the US Society of Ecological Economics for a second term as a board member. Reaching out to new potential members is and will continue to be one of the main goals of the society’s board. One of my main aims as a board member of the society is to work hard towards this vital-for the future of the society-goal. I would like to direct my efforts towards scientists from relevant disciplines, undergraduate and K-12 students, where I think there is the greatest opportunity to expand the society’s outreach and relate ecological economics to various transdisciplinary subjects. I will also continue to be an advocate for programs designed to increase the participation of members of underrepresented groups in the field of Ecological Economics.

Phillip Warsaw

I am an assistant professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. My research sits at the intersection of environmental justice and racial equity in the food system and in housing markets. As a master’s candidate in Environmental Studies, I first began my engagement in ecological economics through my thesis work, titled “Beyond Distribution: Moving Towards a Power-Structures Approach to Environmental Justice in Ecological Economics.” As a doctoral candidate, I continued my work in environmental justice in developing my dissertation, “Essays on the Economics of Food Access”, which developed a microeconomic approach to investigating food insecurity in Milwaukee. During my tenure as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I was involved in building a broader ecological economics agenda on the UW’s campus, developing and participating in a number of ecological economics reading groups, as well as developing a graduate course in ecological economics in Fall 2017. As a professor, I have continued to develop my research agenda of building an economic paradigm centered around environmental justice, using a variety of traditional and non-traditional economics tools, as well as interdisciplinary approaches to my work.

Candidacy Statement: The current COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the inequities created by the current economic paradigm, while the sharp drop in global emissions and pollutants by the decline of economic activity place into stark relief the necessity (and benefits) of a shift to an environmentally sustainable economic system. As
practitioners of ecological economic research and applications, we are uniquely positioned to address these simultaneous social, economic and ecological imperatives. As such, I believe now is a crucial time to recruit a diverse set of young and passionate scholars into the field and find unique ways to disseminate our vital work to the general public. As a nominee for the USSEE board, I welcome the
opportunity to help contribute to the society on these issues.

As a graduate student and now faculty member working in an interdisciplinary field, I have had the opportunity to interact with scholars from a broad swatch of fields, including sociology, environmental studies, geography, urban planning, and agricultural economics. Among the many insights I gained, two stand out. First, I believe there is a continued need for support in developing course syllabi related to ecological economic principles. As a postdoc at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I developed a course in ecological economics that was to my knowledge the first of its kind. As such, I found myself relying heavily on the resources available through the USSEE to develop my syllabus. That said, given the interdisciplinary nature of the field, I believe the society would benefit from continued efforts to provide support to aspiring instructors of ecological economics from varied academic backgrounds, as well as disseminating relevant content that instructors can leverage in their courses. To that end, I would be interested in working with the curriculum or communications subcommittees to continue providing these vital resources.

The second insight I gained in my teaching is the importance of a justice-centered message in recruiting a diverse group of scholars to the field. As an academic of color who received his Ph.D. training in neoclassical economics, one of central factors which drew me towards ecological economics is its focus on environmental justice. That said, in speaking with students of color at the UW and at other
institutions, all of whom were outside of economics, a common refrain I heard was that they were unaware that a subfield of economics that considered environmental justice even existed! This indicates to me that there may be significant gains in emphasizing these aspects of the field, not only in syllabi, but also in outreach efforts to continue to attract a diverse group of scholars into ecological economics. As such, I would also be committed to working with the membership subcommittee to find avenues to
bring such a messaging approach to efforts to grow the USSEE. The USSEE has provided valuable resources to me as a developing scholar in ecological economics. I am excited about the possibility of
working with the USSEE to continue to maintain its current influence and expand its reach to a rising generation of academics ready to contribute to the field.

Graduate Student Member 

Katherine Ingram

Katherine Ingram is a first-year Master’s student in the Energy, Resources, and Environment Department of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. While at Washington and Lee as a Johnson Scholar, she majored in Environmental Studies and Economics. Her research interests lie at the intersection of finance, corporate sustainability, and international development. For her senior Environmental Studies Capstone, Katherine followed up her research activity as an assistant on a corporate sustainability disclosure project and analyzed the role of imperfect information in climate change risk disclosure behavior of the electric power sector. In 2019, Katherine received the John McKenzie Gunn Scholarship from the Economics Department. During her time at Washington and Lee, Katherine helped to develop the proof of concept for an impact investing practicum within the university’s microfinance organization. She also served as the student-appointed representative of the University Sustainability Committee in 2020, where she assisted in the development of the student Climate Action toolkit to support W&L’s 2050 carbon neutrality goal.

Candidacy Statement: I am interested in becoming a USSEE board member because 1) I would like to advance USSEE’s mission of supporting interdisciplinary learning, which has been the cornerstone of my education and 2) I welcome the opportunity to engage with a community of systems thinkers to enhance my understanding of current issues at the nexus of economics and the environment. I believe I could broaden the reach of ecological economics and connect my peers to USSEE. As future practitioners in the international policy arena taught in the neoclassical tradition, I believe it is important to become acquainted with how concepts outside of this tradition such as those in ecological economics can be incorporated into problem-solving and decision-making. 

Meenakshi Jerath

Meenakshi Jerath is a Ph.D. student in Earth Systems Science (2019–), majoring in Natural Resource Science and Management in the Department of Earth and Environment at Florida International University (FIU), Miami. Her research assesses urban resilience measures to risks posed by rapid and slow onset hazards and climate change. Her current research investigates the effectiveness of a 14-hectare forest established on a steep Andean mountainside bordering a community at the urban periphery of metropolitan Lima in Peru. The study will advance evidence and theory for ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction interventions as cost-effective and sustainable solutions that lead to risk mitigation and social-ecological resilience in informal urban areas. In the next stage of her dissertation she is investigating the current patterns of intra-urban heat islands in Miami and their relation to the distinct socio-economic conditions prevalent in the city.

While pursuing her Ph.D. Meenakshi continues to work full-time at the Disaster Risk and Resilience in the Americas Program at the Extreme Events Institute in FIU. In her role as Research Analyst at the Institute, she conducts economic appraisals of disaster risk reduction interventions in the Latin American and Caribbean region. She uses economic decision- making tools to help communities and donor agencies evaluate the merits of development projects that promote disaster resilience.

Meenakshi completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Zoology at the University of Delhi in India. She has a Master’s in Environmental Studies (2012) from FIU. She has presented her research on Alternative approaches to valuing carbon sequestration in mangroves at the Biennial Conference of the International Society of Ecological Economics at Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. Her master’s research evaluated economic, policy, and ecological challenges confronting the valuation of carbon storage in the Florida Everglades mangroves and was published in the journal of Environment Science and Policy in 2016. This research was recognized by the National Science Foundation’s Discovery series, published as a full-length front-page article in the Miami Herald, and telecast in an interview on Yale Climate Connections that was relayed through several radio stations across the country. She has several journal publications listed to her credit since.

Candidacy Statement: My avid research interest in ecological economics fuels my wish to join the USSEE Board of Directors representing graduate students. The position would allow me to further my involvement and contribution to the field and help support the mission.

While working at the Extreme Events Institute, and as a lifelong educator as well, I have experience in training, networking, and communication with professionals across North and Central America, and the Latin American and Caribbean region. This experience in engagement would help me contribute to the USSEE in reaching out to students across the country who would add value to the Society and showcase their research in the USEE conferences. I would be keen to use my skills in managing projects to help support USSEE’s mission. The Society is a great platform for intellectual exchange among scholars across and beyond the country. My curiosity and commitment to finding answers to our deeply interlinked environmental, social, and economic problems through the principles of ecological economics, combined with ability to spur outreach among peers for knowledge coproduction will enable me to bring new ideas and energy to the Board and the Membership.

Diele Lobo

Diele Lobo is a Ph.D. Candidate in Conservation Sciences at the University of Minnesota (UMN). Her doctoral research focuses on institutional and sustainable entrepreneurship for biodiversity conservation. Current research activities include (1) entrepreneurship as a social mechanism for co-production of cultural ecosystem services around protected areas in Brazil, (2) female entrepreneurship as emancipation and as a catalyst of change in conservation attitudes and behaviors, and (3) perceptions of success in venturing for biodiversity conservation. Before coming to UMN, Diele worked with local (Centro de Pesquisas Ambientais do Nordeste – CEPAN) and international NGOs (Conservation International, CI-Brazil) in Brazil coordinating and developing research and executive projects on conservation planning, ecological restoration, and conservation training. During this time, Diele co-authored a book entitled “Implementing reforestation with high species diversity in the Northeastern Atlantic Forest: a practical guide” (title originally in Portuguese). Diele has a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and a master’s in Plant ecology both from Universidade de Pernambuco, Brazil. Made in Brazil and acclimated to Minnesota’s winter, three sources of Diele’s happiness are hiking trails in National Parks, a cozy winter night with a good fictional book and wine & cheese, and Brazilian food shared with family and friends.

Candidacy Statement: I am interested in serving as a USSEE Graduate Student Board Member because I want to support the growth of an academic society whose purposes match my own. I am also motivated to strengthen USSEE’s scholarly diversity with both my background as a tropical ecologist and conservation social scientist in Brazil and my experience as an international graduate student in an ecology-oriented graduate program in the United States.

If elected, I specifically hope to leverage my academic experiences to voice constraints and challenges faced by graduate students regarding professional support and training from others than advisers and programs. I believe that science is a social enterprise and that academic societies play an important role in the career development of graduate students. As a representative of the graduate students within USSEE, I will support USSEE in building a stronger professional development, training, and mentoring community for graduate students. In addition, I plan to continue the work of previous representatives in supporting USSEE’s outreach initiatives. 

Undergraduate Student Member

Evan Beresford

Evan Beresford is a rising senior at Michigan State University with a major in Environmental Studies & Sustainability along with minors in Economics, Forestry, and Sustainable Natural Resource Recreation Management. Beresford is a member of the Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment (RISE) and is an Undergraduate Learning Assistant for the Environmental Issues Seminar, a position in which he assists with grading and lesson planning. He also has managed the Bailey Greenhouse and Urban farm for the past two years which has entailed planning, harvesting, and selling crops year-round. Last summer Beresford was in Washington, D.C. as a policy intern for the Federal Forest Resource Coalition, a trade association that works with the US Forest Service on timber harvest related issues. Beresford is currently working for the US Forest Service in Grand Lake, Colorado on a timber pre-sale crew. In the future he aims to pursue a career with the Forest Service in policy, field work, or economics.

Candidate Statement: I would like to be part of the United States Society for Ecological Economics because I would like to gain more experience in the academic world of ecological economics. I believe undergraduate involvement in this group is important because we are the future of this field, and it is critical that myself and my peers get involved as early as possible. My education in systems thinking through my Environmental Studies & Sustainability major has given me a holistic model to think about the ways economic and environmental institutions function. My minors in Economics and Forestry, along with my prior work experience, have supplemented my major giving me a wide view of sustainability and economics. I hope to grow my network and learn from the leaders in the ecological economics field. I am honored to have been nominated for the Undergraduate Student Member on the board and appreciate your consideration for the position.

Maisie Strawn

Maisie Strawn is an undergraduate student at Washington and Lee University majoring in environmental economics and minoring in entrepreneurship. At school, she is involved with the General Development Initiative, a student-run non-profit focused on sustainable and socially conscious micro-finance, the Citizen’s Climate Lobby, a nonpartisan advocacy organization focused on climate change, and the varsity field hockey team. Growing up in rural, coastal Virginia, an area disproportionately bearing the weight of climate change and sea-level rise, Maisie is passionate about USSEE’s goal of advancing practical solutions toward an ecologically sustainable and economically viable future. This summer, she will serve as an intern with Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission working on several projects aiming to develop the local economy while protecting the natural resources of the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding area. Maisie has also worked for the USGS, writing educational materials on the geology and ecology of National Parks for their website and will volunteer this summer with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to develop educational and outreach materials related to the ecological and economic importance of the Chesapeake Bay. Maisie hopes to pursue a career working to address sustainability challenges while facilitating economic growth within planetary boundaries.

Candidate Statement: I am passionate about the work USSEE does to bring together academics and practitioners to address issues of sustainability in an integrative way that considers economic, social, and ecological systems. I would highly value the opportunity to better understand and increase my exposure to these issues. Serving as the Undergraduate Student Member on the USSEE Board, I believe I could effectively recruit and engage other undergraduate students as members of USSEE and be useful in planning and publicizing conferences and events, as well as in helping to develop and curate relevant materials and information. I am excited by the prospect of being involved with USSEE, and I thank you for consideration.