University of Pittsburgh
February 9, 2015

Pitt Names 2015 Faculty Fellows in Sustainability

Professors will design new courses; study urban infrastructure, salvage logging, and policies regulating public revenues from shale gas extraction

Joe Miksch


Cell: 412-997-0314

PITTSBURGH—As part of the University of Pittsburgh’s ongoing Year of Sustainability, the Office of the Provost and Pitt’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation have announced the recipients of the 2015 Faculty Fellowships in Sustainability. Daniel Bain, assistant professor in the Department of Geology and Planetary Science within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences; Walter Carson, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences in the Dietrich School; and Jeremy Weber, assistant professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, will each receive a one-year fellowship with $25,000 in annual support and the option for renewal for an additional year. Fellows are expected to contribute to research within and across disciplines during the fellowship period and will develop new sustainability-related courses.

Daniel Bain, Department of Geology and Planetary Science, Dietrich School
BainDaniel Bain focuses his research in catchment hydrology, trace metal biogeochemistry, urban and riparian systems, and fluvial geomorphology.

As a Fellow in Sustainability, he is building an interdisciplinary team of Pitt researchers who can respond to requests for sustainability research and collaboration originating from government and other agents outside of the University. Maintaining an available, established research team will allow Pitt to leverage its extensive knowledge to participate in collaborative team research, particularly on sustainability issues.

Bain is also developing a research and training program focusing on sustainable responses to the infrastructure crisis in urban systems. Graduate student-centered research teams that develop out of this training program will work in partnership with local organizations to forge data-driven solutions to the challenges facing implementation of sustainable solutions.

He received a PhD in geography and environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 2004 and joined the University of Pittsburgh faculty in 2007.

Walter Carson, Department of Biological Sciences, Dietrich School
CarsonWalter Carson focuses his research on the impact of herbivory on the diversity of tropical forests in Central America, the evaluation of underlying causes of failed oak regeneration in West Virginia, and the evaluation of biodiversity collapses among numerous old-growth forests in Pennsylvania. In collaboration with the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the University of Georgia, Carson is testing the ways in which exotic plant species such as purple loosestrife can invade and dominate novel habitats.

As a Fellow in Sustainability, Carson is tackling threats to habitat sustainability and biodiversity using a broad framework grounded in policy research. In collaboration with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the U.S. Forest Service, and six other regional universities, Carson is leading a landscape-scale study to address the ecological and conservational impacts of salvage logging (i.e. the harvesting of trees following large windstorms). This collaborative research, along with Carson’s field-based contributions to a sustainability capstone course, will contribute to a dramatic expansion of research and expertise on sustainability in Pittsburgh and the region.

He received his PhD from Cornell University in 1993 and joined the University of Pittsburgh faculty in 1994.

Jeremy Weber, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
WeberJeremy Weber, who also holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Economics in the Dietrich School, investigates energy and natural resource economics, development and agricultural economics, and applied microeconomics.

As a Fellow in Sustainability, Weber is researching the impacts of policies regulating the generation and management of public revenues from natural gas extraction in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. He will engage researchers from the natural and engineering sciences to assess how the pace of drilling in shale—and the public revenues generated from it—will likely evolve over time. Weber will present his research to Pitt’s Center for Metropolitan Studies, making his findings accessible to state and local officials and broadening the University’s reach in sustainability issues. He will also publish a dataset of impact-fee monies and spending across Pennsylvania’s counties and municipalities, encouraging research across disciplines and universities.

His proposed research will focus on approaches to managing revenues generated by the Pennsylvania Impact Fee on Marcellus Shale natural gas wells. The work will involve an empirical assessment of the use of impact fee revenues, particularly how they are used by local governments. Weber plans to create and publish a dataset to facilitate further research on impact fee use.

He received his PhD in agricultural and applied economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010 and joined the University of Pittsburgh faculty in 2014.