Three CEE faculty named 2021-22 iSEE Levenick Teaching Fellows


Hajj, Makhnenko and Sychterz part of cohort that will expand sustainability topics in their courses.

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Left to right: Ramez Hajj, Roman Makhnenko and Ann Sychterz
Left to right: Ramez Hajj, Roman Makhnenko and Ann Sychterz

The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) has named its largest and most diverse group of faculty and instructors to be 2021-22 Levenick iSEE Teaching Sustainability Fellows, including Civil and Environmental Engineering assistant professors Ramez Hajj, Roman Makhnenko and Ann Sychterz.

Funded by a generous endowment from Illinois alumnus Stuart L. Levenick and his wife Nancy J. Levenick, this third cohort of faculty and teachers — a record 12 of them — from across the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus will incorporate sustainability into existing classes or create entirely new courses built around sustainability elements.

Hajj joined the CEE transportation engineering faculty in 2020. His research focuses on the mechanical fundamentals that drive behavior of infrastructure materials, especially for transportation. The Levenick funding will help Hajj add to a course titled “Asphalt Materials.”

Makhnenko has been on the CEE faculty since 2016, where he teaches courses on geotechnical engineering and rock mechanics. His research centers on fluid-saturated geomaterials, deep carbon dioxide and nuclear waste storage, geothermal energy exploration, gas shales and hydraulic fracturing. The Levenick funding will help Makhnenko add sustainable subsurface energy design components to a course titled "GeoEnergy Systems."

Sychterz joined the CEE faculty in 2020 where she teaches in the structural engineering area. Her research interests include cable and tensile structures, optimized sensor placement for civil structures, structural dynamics, machine learning and robotics, and damage mitigation and risk assessment in large-scale structures. The Levenick funding will help Sychterz add to an existing course titled “Design of Structural Systems.”

iSEE Associate Director for Education & Outreach Gillen D’Arcy Wood said applications continue to increase each year for the Levenick Teaching Sustainability program — and academic units from across campus continue to show interest in adding sustainability thinking into the curriculum.

“The courses to be developed by this cohort range in focus from sustainability in the Arab world, to carbon capture technology, to green tourism,” Wood said. “Levenick Fellows will meet throughout the year to trade ideas on sustainability education and to benefit from the educational resources and expertise at iSEE.

“Once again, we’d like to thank Stuart and Nancy Levenick for the generous donation. Our Institute’s goal is to incorporate sustainability into as many classes as possible, and we are grateful that we can make progress each year through this program.”

The other 2021-22 Fellows and the projects they will undertake:

  • Bryan Endres, Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, adding to the existing “Food Law” course;
  • Renata Endres, Instructor in Agricultural and Consumer Economics, developing a new course titled “Recreation and Tourism Economics”;
  • Ali Freter, Interim Director of the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences Study Abroad Program, adding to the existing “First-Year Experience Program” course;
  • Jiajun He, Teaching Assistant Professor of Mechanical Science and Engineering, developing a new course titled “Carbon Capture and Storage”;
  • Samantha Lindgren, Assistant Professor of Education, developing a new course titled “Education for Global Sustainability”;
  • Ripan Malhi, Professor of Anthropology, developing a new course titled “Transforming Science from Colonial to Sustainable Practice”;
  • Eman Saadah, Teaching Associate Professor of Linguistics in the Arabic Language Program, adding to the existing “Language and Culture of the Arab World” course;
  • Chadly Stern, Assistant Professor of Psychology, adding to the existing “Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination” course;
  • Roderick Wilson, Assistant Professor of History and East Asian Languages and Cultures, adding to the existing “Intro to Japanese Culture” course.

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This story was published March 9, 2021.