HomeNewsIonE welcomes 2017 class of IonE Affiliates

IonE welcomes 2017 class of IonE Affiliates

The Institute on the Environment has named 12 IonE Associates, 34 IonE Fellows, 4 IonE Educators and 2 IonE Visiting Scholars to its 2017 cohort of IonE Affiliates. These researchers and thought leaders represent a spectrum of disciplines from across the University of Minnesota system and beyond and, together with previously selected fellows, form the intellectual foundation of IonE.

Since its inception, IonE has enlisted the expertise of University faculty to bring diverse perspectives to efforts to discover solutions to the world’s most vexing environmental challenges through its IonE Fellows program. This year, IonE is renaming the program the IonE Affiliates program and expanding it to include Associates, Educators and Visiting Scholars as well as Fellows. IonE Associates are early scholars interested in developing capacity in interdisciplinary engagement; IonE Educators focus on development of new curriculum; and IonE Visiting Scholars are external researchers who are pursuing scholarship in residence.

“One aim of the program is to build excellence in interdisciplinary scholarship and enhance the capacity of young academic leaders to work with partners outside the university, ” says Jessica Hellmann, IonE director and professor in the College of Biological Sciences. “We also want to bring more focus to sustainability education to enrich sustainability offerings for UMN students.”


IonE associates are early-career scholars with exceptional promise to become internationally recognized for their environmental and sustainability research and to effect transformative environmental outcomes. They are selected based on nominations from current IonE Fellows with support from the nominee’s department chair or dean. During their two-year term they will receive formal and informal mentoring as well as training in media and stakeholder engagement, best practices for interdisciplinary scholarship, strategies for effective project management, and strategic thinking to create impact in society. Members of the 2017 IonE Associates cohort are:

Gabriel Chan
Associate Professor, Science, Technology and Environmental Policy
Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Chan’s research takes an interdisciplinary approach to address topics at the intersection of climate, innovation and energy policy. “Gabe’s research focus is primarily on global climate change and sustainable development. He explores both through a lens of innovation science and the policies that allow, enable or impede such innovation. This lens creates a rich intellectual context to explore environmental policy research, especially when much government policy is focused on consistency and containment (not innovation),” says Laura Bloomberg, associate dean of the Humphrey School.

Laura Dee
Assistant Professor, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology
College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
Post-Doctoral Scholar, Natural Capital Project

Dee is a conservation ecologist interested in the preservation of natural systems and biodiversity, and the continued provision of benefits from nature to human well-being, including fisheries. She uses statistical and mathematical modeling to study drivers and management of ecosystem services in the face of uncertainty.

Kate Derickson
McKnight Land Grant Professor, Department of Geography, Environment and Society
College of Liberal Arts

Derickson’s research is primarily concerned with the role scholarship in the social and natural sciences can play in helping low-wealth communities participate in and influence public debates and policy-making, and how such scholarship can become more responsive to historically marginalized groups. “She will bring a sophisticated human geographic analysis of environmental issues to the table and thus widen our collective scope,” says College of Liberal Arts professor Abdi I. Samatar. “She has advocated for a vital conceptual shift from resilience to resourcefulness in framing [people’s] abilities to withstand major economic and environmental shifts.”

Jack DeWaard
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology
College of Liberal Arts
Graduate Faculty, Minnesota Population Center

DeWaard’s research focuses on human migration and displacement caused by environmental change. “Jack exemplifies the ideal IonE researcher in how he combines world-class research with engagement with a range of communities,” says Steven Manson, CLA geography professor and IonE Fellow. “Jack’s research is very exciting given its potential to create genuinely new knowledge about the interrelationships between human actions and environmental systems.”

Ardeshir Ebtehaj
Assistant Professor, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering
College of Science and Engineering

The overarching goal of Ebtehaj’s research is to enhance understanding of the global water-energy cycle and land-atmosphere interactions for improving water, food and energy security. “Ardeshir’s research is interdisciplinary and spans hydrology, agronomy, meteorology, remote sensing and computational sciences,” says CSE professor and IonE Fellow John Gulliver. “The overarching goal of his research is to provide modern solutions for challenges in sustainable use of water, food and energy resources.”

Jessica Gutknecht
Assistant Professor, Department of Soil, Water and Climate

Gutknecht’s research focuses on soil processes and management, and how soil scientists can inform a new set of solutions in response to environmental challenges. Gutknecht applies her scientific skills to “interdisciplinary questions that span the spectrum of applied to basic research,” says Jennifer Powers, associate professor in the College of Biological Sciences and an IonE Fellow. “Since arriving at the University of Minnesota, she has established an impressive research program that includes asking basic ecological questions about how below-ground processes mediate ecosystem responses to climate change.”

Alison Hoxie
Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
University of Minnesota Duluth Swenson College of Science and Engineering

Hoxie’s research focuses on renewable energy and leading the transition to a more sustainable future. Her current work aims to improve atomization of bio-oils to decrease the amount of unburned hydrocarbons (soot) in exhaust gases. “Dr. Hoxie is well known as a leader on campus in advancing renewable energy projects, and she is a board member of the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships,” says Randel Hanson, assistant professor in UMD College of Liberal Arts and an IonE Fellow. “She is also known as a dynamic and inspiring teacher, particularly for how she has identified community sites for her students to apply their engineering studies via experiential learning.”

Diana Karwan
Assistant Professor, Department of Forest Resources

Karwan uses field observations, chemical tracers and models to analyze the movement of water and waterborne materials such as sediment and carbon through watersheds, particularly in response to land use change, extreme weather events and climate change. Karwan’s work “spans basic to applied research in order answer questions of societal importance,” says Michael Kilgore, interim forest resources department head in CFANS. “She both develops the chemical tracing techniques as well as applies them to address research questions and management concerns.”

Daniel Larkin
Assistant Professor & Extension Specialist, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology

Larkin is a plant community ecologist who studies restoration, habitat management and how resource management decisions are influenced. “In his first year as a faculty member, Dan developed a plan for a citizen science program around aquatic invasive species management that is now funded by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources,” says Susan Galatowitsch, professor and head of the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology in CFANS. “This program positions him to gather and share data across Minnesota and eventually other states, and to engage the public and communicate research to influence policy as well as state and local AIS response.”

Santiago Romero-Vargas Castrillón
Assistant Professor, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Castrillón’s research focuses on design of membrane materials and processes for sustainable water treatment, and the environmental implications and applications of nanomaterials in aqueous environments. “Santiago is an expert on the development and use of membranes for water treatment,” says William Arnold, Distinguished McKnight University Professor in CSE and IonE Fellow. “Given the concentration of water technology companies in Minnesota, the importance of water treatment to the state and the strong membrane/polymer expertise on campus, Santiago’s work is likely to have important benefits to the state and beyond.”

Paul Venturelli
Assistant Professor, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife Conservation Biology

Venturelli seeks to change the way we assess and manage inland fisheries. He has helped developed an approach that combines innovative techniques related to life history, temperature and population dynamics to generate population-specific estimates of sustainable harvest. Venturelli “has a broad background in fisheries science and uses quantitative techniques, theory and population modeling to address issues like sustainable fishing, invasive species and pollution,” says James Forester, assistant CFANS professor and an IonE Fellow. “His current work, of particular interest to IonE, is focused on freshwater fisheries — an important but diverse food source that is poorly understood, diffuse and under threat.” 

Tiffany Wolf
Research Associate, Department of Veterinary Population Medicine
College of Veterinary Medicine

Wolf seeks to apply wildlife epidemiology and veterinary medicine to multidisciplinary research that addresses complex issues and advances ecosystem health. For example, she is working to understand and identify solutions to Minnesota’s declining moose population and evaluating the impact of environmental contaminants on aquatic species used by Minnesota tribal communities. “Dr. Wolf is a spectacular candidate for a career in academia and is a rising star in the field of wildlife epidemiology and conservation medicine,” says Dominic Travis, assistant professor in CVM and an IonE Fellow.


 IonE Fellows are the bedrock of IonE. They enrich IonE intellectually and attract visibility and external investment. Highly creative and innovative thought leaders, they are a primary path toward achieving the sustainable future IonE envisions. Members of the 2017 IonE Fellows cohort are:

Alptekin Aksan, College of Science and Engineering

Eray Aydil, College of Science and Engineering

Christine Baeumler, College of Liberal Arts

Saif Benjaafar, College of Science and Engineering

Elizabeth Borer, College of Biological Sciences

Jeffrey Broadbent, College of Liberal Arts

Peter Calow, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Singdhansu Chatterjee, College of Liberal Arts

Grant Domke, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and USDA Forest Service

John Downing, University of Minnesota Duluth Sea Grant

Julie Etterson, University of Minnesota Duluth Swenson College of Science and Engineering

Tom Fisher, College of Design

Lee Frelich, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

Laura Gagliardi, College of Science and Engineering

Richard Graves, College of Design

Kimberly Hill, College of Science and Engineering

Lucinda Johnson, University of Minnesota Duluth Natural Resources Research Institute

Arne Kildegaard, University of Minnesota Morris Division of Social Science

Vipin Kumar, College of Science and Engineering

David Lipset, College of Liberal Arts

Jerry Lynch, General Mills

Richard McGehee, College of Liberal Arts

Ned Mohan, College of Science and Engineering

Craig Packer, College of Biological Sciences

Daniel Philippon, College of Liberal Arts

Raj Rajan, Ecolab

Cheryl Robertson, Nursing

Carl Rosen, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

Michael Sadowsky, College of Biological Sciences

Ken Smith, Great River Energy

Marla Spivak, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

Rolf Weberg, University of Minnesota Duluth Natural Resources Research Institute

Michael Wilson, College of Liberal Arts

Denise Young, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences


IonE educators advance best practices in sustainability instruction and curriculum development and disseminate those innovations to the broader university community. They are selected based on strength of record and potential for the proposed project to significantly advance sustainability education at the University. IonE Educators are tenure-track faculty and instructional staff regularly engaged in formal and informal teaching. During their fellowship year, IonE Educators pursue projects around effective pedagogy and curriculum development aimed at improving an existing course or developing new courses and educational experience. Members of the 2017 IonE Educators cohort are:

Michelle Garvey, College of Liberal Arts

Elizabeth Hill, University of Minnesota Duluth Swenson College of Science and Engineering

Ned Mohan, College of Science and Engineering

Tiffany Richardson, College of Education and Human Development


IonE’s Visiting Scholars program aims to extend the reach of IonE and its researchers and to welcome external visitors who can enrich its community of environmental research and education. IonE Visiting Scholars provide a link between one or more external institutions — including academia, the government, not-for-profit institutions and corporations — and the University of Minnesota for a minimum three-month term. Members of the 2017 IonE Visiting Scholars cohort are:

Garth Hickle, College of Continuing Education/Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Robert Gardner, Visiting Faculty, College of Science and Engineering

Photo by scanrail (iStock)

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