Faculty Profiles

GW is home to leading experts in sustainability whose research covers topics such as renewable energy, urban sustainability and environmental law.

Lisa Benton-Short

Associate Professor, Department of Geography
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS)

Dr. Benton-Short’s research areas include environmental issues in cities, parks and public spaces and monuments and memorials, as well as urban sustainability. Dr. Benton-Short also directs the undergraduate sustainability minor.


Jonathon Deason

Professor, Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) Dr. Deason serves as Lead Professor of the Environmental and Energy Management concentration and directs the research activities of the Environmental and Energy Management program, which currently focuses primarily on renewable energy and net zero water and energy.  Other aspects of the EEM program’s research efforts include alternative fuel vehicles, distributed generation, brownfields redevelopment, multi objective environmental decision making, and environmental and energy policy analysis.


Ram Fishman


Assistant Professor, Department of Economics
Columbian College of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Fishman is an assistant professor of Economics and International Affairs at George Washington University, Washington D.C., and associate researcher at the Center for Globalization and Sustainable Development at the Earth Institute, Columbia University. Ram holds a M.Sc. in Physics from the Weitzman Institute of Science and a Ph.D in Sustainable Development from Columbia University. Prior to coming to GWU, Ram was a Sustainability Science Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. Ram's research focuses on sustainable agriculture, improved technology adoption and water scarcity in developing countries, and includes several running field projects in India, Senegal and Nepal.


Royce Francis

Assistant Professor, Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering
School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS)

Dr. Francis leads the SEED research group — Sustainable [urban] Ecologies, Engineering and Decision-making. Currently, SEED is focusing on sustainability measurement in drinking water systems, risk-based management of drinking water infrastructure rehabilitation and renewal and integration of decision modeling with life cycle cost assessment methodologies for chemical and infrastructure evaluation.


Lynn R. Goldman

School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS)

Dr. Lynn Goldman’s research and policy work focuses on how chemicals and pesticides in the environment influence the health and development of children. As Dean of SPHHS, Dr. Goldman’s responsibilities are informed by her broad and deep public policy and academic experience. She joined the school in August 2010. Prior to GW, she worked as a pediatrician, professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health and as assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the U.S. EPA.


Melissa Keeley

Assistant Professor, Department of Geography and Department Public Policy and Public Administration
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS)

Dr. Keeley’s research focus is on urban sustainability, particularly related to green infrastructure, stormwater management and green building. Together with the DC Office of Planning and the DC Department of the Environment she is identifying how the city can manage stormwater utilizing green infrastructure. Additionally, Keeley explores developments in municipal green building policy, and evaluates trends in how buildings accrue credits to achieve LEED Green building certification.


Marcus King

Associate Professor, Department International Affairs
Director, Master of Arts Program in International Affairs  

Marcus King is director of the Elliott School’s Master of Arts in International Affairs Program and John O. Rankin Associate Professor of International Affairs. King leads the Climate and Water Security Initiative, a project that has convened conferences and working groups for senior thought leaders and policymakers to develop tangible recommendations that advance U.S. foreign policy leadership in these critical areas.  King’s recent research examines climate change and the global impacts of water scarcity on energy supply.  He teaches related courses including a seminar on environmental security that applies development and international security concepts to interactions between humans and their environment.


Stuart Licht

Professor, Department of Chemistry
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS)

The Licht research group has taken on the challenge of a comprehensive solution to climate change. We are working towards changing today’s fossil fuel to a renewable chemical economy, replacing the largest greenhouse gas emitters, including iron and fuel production, by new, inexpensive, solar, CO2-free chemistries. A new solar process has been introduced, the STEP process, which efficiently removes carbon from the atmosphere and generates the staples needed by society, ranging from fuels, to metals, bleach and construction materials, at high solar efficiency and without carbon dioxide generation. By using the full spectrum of sunlight, STEP captures, at industrial production rates, more solar energy than the most efficient solar cell.


Peter LaPuma

Associate Professor, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health

Peter LaPuma is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the School of Public Health and Health Sciences. Sustainable energy and sustainable living have long been areas of academic and personal interest for Professor LaPuma. “To maintain our standard of living in an energy-constrained future will not be easy; we need robust energy strategies and a new way of thinking about energy,” he says. Among his research activities, Professor LaPuma has studied the carbon emissions of electric vehicles, compared to gasoline-powered vehicles, the payback time of installing wind turbines, and the potential of geothermal energy. He has studied the feasibility of utility scale solar systems, wind farms and alternative fuel facilities for the federal government. He has also worked with Kuwait and Oman in developing solar systems to offset oil and gas consumption. He is currently working on the life cycle assessment of "solar cement" in collaboration with the Chemistry Department. Prior to joining the SPHHS faculty in 2009 (after four years as an adjunct), Dr. LaPuma was a faculty member at the Air Force Institute of Technology and the Uniformed Services University. He developed a wide range of environmental science courses, covering such topics as sustainable life cycle design, environmental and occupational health, public health risk assessment, the legal framework for pollution, and toxicology. His teaching skills were recognized with a series of “teacher of the year” awards. Dr. LaPuma retired from the Air Force in 2007, after 21 years, and then served as a sustainable energy consultant to Booz Allen Hamilton. Putting his academic interests into real-world application, he also designed a sustainable subdivision on a Virginia farm and designed and built his own passive solar home.


Peter Linquiti

Visiting Professor of Public Policy & Public Administration
Interim Director, Environmental Resources Policy Program (ENRP)
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS)

Prior to joining the GWU faculty, Professor Linquiti served as Executive Vice President at ICF International, a global consulting firm focused on energy and environmental policy. He worked for clients like EPA, the World Bank, and the United Nations Environment Program, on energy and environmental issues related to air quality, climate change, hazardous and solid waste, drinking water, risk assessment, and publicly-funded R&D on new “green” technologies.  At GWU, he teaches the core policy analysis methods class in the MPA curriculum, an undergraduate course on sustainability and environmental policy, and the capstone course in both the MPP and ENRP programs.  Professor Linquiti holds a PhD in public policy and public administration from GWU, and an MPP and BA in Political Science, both from the University of California at Berkeley.


Clair Monteleoni

Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science
School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS)

Dr. Claire Monteleoni, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, is a machine learning researcher with a background in earth and planetary sciences. She is committed to exploring interdisciplinary collaborations in the new field of climate informatics. Her work on Tracking Climate Models uses machine learning to track and combine the predictions of 20 global climate models, and produces better global and regional temperature predictions than the previous state-of-the-art techniques in the climate community. A preliminary version of this work was presented at an Expert Meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and won the Best Application Paper Award at the NASA Conference on Intelligent Data Understanding, 2010. This project also led to an invited paper in the Journal of Statistical Analysis and Data Mining (2011), papers at the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, in 2012 and 2013, and an invited book chapter on climate informatics, in 2013. She gave an invited talk on her work in climate informatics at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), in December 2013. Dr. Monteleoni also co-founded the International Workshop on Climate Informatics in 2011, which is now entering its fourth year.


Dr. Robert Orttung 

Research Associate Professor 
Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA)

Dr. Robert Orttung, Associate Research Professor of International Affairs, is the principal investigator for a five-year $561,377 project funded by the NSF to build a Research Coordination Network of scientists and policymakers studying Arctic urban centers. The project, which will focus on Russia, is a multidisciplinary, international effort to examine the interconnections among resource development, climate change and evolving demographic patterns. The goal is to provide advice to policymakers on how to develop Arctic oil and natural gas deposits and their related infrastructure in a way that produces minimal impact on the environment. The project will run for the next five academic years.


LeRoy C. (Lee) Paddock

Associate Dean for Environmental Law Studies
GW Law School

LeRoy C. (Lee) Paddock is Associate Dean for Environmental Law Studies at The George Washington University Law School.  His scholarship focuses on environmental compliance and enforcement, environmental governance with particular emphasis on integrating the regulatory system with economic and values-based drivers of environmental behavior, environmental justice, public participation, and energy law issues related to renewable sources and efficiency.  He serves on the University’s Sustainability Committee and co-teaches its new Sustainability 1001 course for undergraduate students.  Lee recently organized a major conference at GW on sustainable energy.  Lee works with the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy and Resources on sustainability issues and represented the ABA at the Rio+20 meeting. Lee worked for 20 years in the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office where he drafted much of the state’s environmental enforcement legislation. Lee holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. with High Honors from the University of Iowa.  He clerked for Judge Donald Lay of the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.


Jerome Paulson

Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Department of Environmental and Occupational Health
School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) & School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS)

Dr. Paulson’s teaching and policy activities focus on the intersections of environmental and human health. He is the medical director for National and Global Affairs of the Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children’s National Medical Center. Dr. Paulson is the director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment, one of 10 pediatric environmental health specialty units in the U.S.


Melissa Perry

Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health
School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS)

Dr. Perry investigates the human health impacts of environmental exposures and strategies to reduce risks. Her lab at GW is currently funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to study the impact of environmental contaminants on male reproductive function, and is working with the U.S. Geological Survey and Potomac Riverkeeper to investigate endocrine disruptors in the Potomac River.


David Rain

Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Department of International Affairs
Director, Environmental Studies

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS)
Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA)

David R. Rain is Associate Professor of Geography and International Affairs and Director of the Environmental Studies Program at the George Washington University.  He received his Ph.D. in Geography and Demography from Penn State’s College of Earth & Mineral Sciences in 1997.  Prior to his appointment at GW in the Fall of 2004, he served as a statistician-demographer with the International Programs Center of the U.S. Census Bureau.  An urban and population geographer and expert in international census mapping, he wrote the book on geospatial infrastructure for social statistics for the United Nations.  Professor Rain’s main research interests lie in cities in the developing world and the environmental and health dimensions of urbanization.  From 2008 to 2013 he led NIH-funded geographic fieldwork in Accra, Ghana, documenting the consequences of urbanization on health and disaster vulnerability.  He is currently writing a book about the American landscape and the role of geography in affecting health and environmental outcomes.  Professor Rain serves on the Geographical Sciences Committee of the National Research Council.  He teaches courses on the Geography of Africa, Cities in the Developing World, History of Geographic Thought & Research Methods, Society & Environment, People, Land & Food, and Environment & Development.  Rain was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger (1985-7), a Fulbright fellow (1995-6), and received the Comsci fellowship from the Department of Commerce, and the Bronze Medal Award from the U.S. Census Bureau.


Ellen Scully-Ross

Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education and Human Development

Dr. Scully-Russ is an Assistant Professor of Human and Organizational Learning at The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Her scholarship and practice are focused on the role of Adult Education and Human Resource Development (HRD) in meeting the individual and the political-economic challenges of the emerging knowledge society. Her recent scholarship has focused on green jobs, the role of HRD in greening the economy, and the co-constructive relationship between HRD and sustainability. Scully-Russ was awarded a Cutting Edge Award from the Academy of Human Resource Development in 2010 and the Monica M. Lee Research Excellence Award from the Human Resource Development International in 2012.


Frank Sesno

Director, School of Media and Public Affairs

Frank Sesno is director of the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) at The George Washington University.  He is an Emmy-award winning journalist and creator of PlanetForward.org, a user-driven web and television project that highlights innovations in sustainability.  He hosts and facilitates the Planet Forward Salon Series focusing on topics such as energy policy, green jobs, and food production.  He has moderated events for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Bayer CropScience, Land O’Lakes Foundation, and National Geographic, among others.  Planet Forward is produced by SMPA’s Center for Innovative Media, of which Sesno is co-director.  Sesno has served as the correspondent for a variety of CNN television series such as We Were Warned: Out of Gas as well as moderated events like the National Symposium on America’s Energy Future at the U.S. Capitol. As SMPA director, Sesno leads a faculty of nearly two dozen world-class professors who research and teach journalism, political communication and the impact of digital media in international affairs.  Sesno teaches classes on environmental multimedia reporting, ethics in journalism, documentary and ‘the art of the interview.’ Sesno's diverse career spans more than three decades, including 21 years at CNN where he served as White House correspondent, anchor, and Washington Bureau Chief.  He has covered a diverse range of subjects, from politics and conventions to international summits and climate change.  He has interviewed five U.S. presidents and literally thousands of political, business and civic leaders — ranging from Hillary Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Microsoft founder Bill Gates and broadcast legend Walter Cronkite.

Before joining CNN in 1984, Sesno worked as a radio correspondent at the White House and in London for the Associated Press. He has won several prestigious journalistic awards, including an Emmy, several cable ACE awards, and an Overseas Press Club Award.  Sesno is a member of the Board of Trustees at Middleburg College, AmeriCares, and the Council on Foreign Relations.  He serves as chair of the Posse Foundation Washington Advisory Board as well.  He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in American History from Middlebury College.


Dr. Nicolay Shiklomanov

Assistant Professor, Department of Georgraphy
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS)

Arctic Studies are the fast growing area of research at GWU. Over the last four years approximately $2.6 million of external funding was received from NSF, NASA, and Research Council of Norway to study the effect of climate change on natural and human Arctic environments. At present the main topics of research include (1): Long-term observations on the climate-permafrost system (2) Process studies and modeling of the Arctic natural environments and (3) Interdisciplinary research on the Arctic Urban Sustainability. The observational component is supported through NSF-funded The Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) project (PI. Shiklomanov N.I., Geography). The CALM program is concerned with observing the response of the active layer (the upper layer of soil in permafrost regions, which thaws and freezes on an annual basis) and near-surface permafrost to climate change at multi-decade time scales. The present CALM network of 220 sites distributed throughout the Circumpolar Arctic represents the only coordinated and standardized program designed to observe and detect decadal changes in the dynamics of seasonal thawing and freezing in high-latitude soils. The process and modeling studies are led by Dr. Streletskiy D.A. (Geography) who is a PI on NSF-funded project titled “Collaborative Research: Interactions between Air Temperature, Permafrost and Hydrology in the High Latitudes of Eurasia.” This project, collaborative with the University of New Hampshire, seeks to investigate the complex relations between climate change, hydrologic regime, and permafrost-affected soils at various time and space scales. In July 2012 GW was awarded five-year NSF grant for project titled “RCN-SEES: Building a Research Network for Promoting Arctic Urban Sustainability” (P.I. Orttung R. (Elliot School, Co-PIs Shiklomanov N.I. (Geography), Streletskiy D.A. (Geography), Laruelle M. (Ellot School). This award supports a Research Coordination Network aimed at creating models for Arctic urban sustainability. It is a multi-disciplinary effort examining the interconnections among resource development, climate change, and evolving demographic patterns in an effort to provide advice to policy-makers on how to maintain and develop Arctic urban communities and their related infrastructure in a way that produces minimal impact on the environment. A complimentary project titled “Arctic Urban Sustainability in Russia” was funded by the Research Council of Norway with our partners from the University of Tromso, Norway. The GW portion of this project includes funds to the Department of Geography for Climate Change-related studies and to Elliott School for energy- and policy-related research.


Stephen C. Smith

Professor, Department of Economics and Department of International Affairs
Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA)

Stephen C. Smith is director of the Institute for International Economic Policy and professor of Economics and International Affairs at GW. He is co-author of Economic Development and author of Ending Global Poverty. Smith is researching adaptation by households, communities and firms to climate change in developing countries. He teaches courses in development economics, including segments on environment. Smith has done on site research and program work in countries including Bangladesh, China, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Peru and Uganda. He has been a consultant for the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program, the International Labor Office and the World Institute for Development Economics Research.


Sara Wilensky

Special Services Faculty for Undergraduate Education, Department of Health Policy

As both a teacher and a researcher, Dr. Wilensky concentrates on the financing, access and health care needs of the medically underserved, including low-income and uninsured individuals, farmworkers and patients with HIV and AIDS. After completing her undergraduate work, Professor Wilensky served as a fellow at Plan de Salud del Valle Community Health Center, located in rural Colorado, gaining first-hand insights into the needs of these populations. Subsequently, she pursued a law degree, clerked for a federal judge and worked briefly at a law firm, before becoming a member of the GW health policy faculty in 2002. In addition to her responsibilities as a teacher, advisor, and mentor, Dr. Wilensky serves on two Department committees - for student and alumni affairs, and for recruitment and admissions -- and on the School's undergraduate curriculum sub-committee. Committed to improving the writing skills of both graduates and undergraduates, she is also actively involved in the Writing in the Disciplines program. As the Director of the Undergraduate Program in Public Health, Professor Wilensky oversees three undergraduate programs, a Public Health major, minor, and five year BS/MPH dual-degree program. GW is one of only a handful of schools that offers a full array of public health opportunities to our undergraduate students.

Linda Yarr

Director, Partnerships for International Strategies in Asia (PISA), Elliott School of International Affairs

Linda Yarr leads Partnerships for International Strategies in Asia (PISA), a program that provides short courses on climate change and sustainability for government officials and leaders of civil society organizations in East and Southeast Asia. As part of the Rising Powers Initiative of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, she is also conducting research on Vietnam’s pursuit of nuclear power to ensure its energy security for economic growth.  Each fall, Ms. Yarr teaches an interdisciplinary course on The Global City in World Affairs that comprises a strong sustainability thread.  PISA sponsors periodic campus events devoted to the theme of climate-wise development featuring the voices of experts from Asia.

Volker Sorger

Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Director of the Smart Innovation Labs

Volker J. Sorger is an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the director of the Smart Innovation Labs at The George Washington University. He received his PhD from the University of California Berkeley. His research areas include advanced devices, smart-grid technologies, and environmental sustainability. Dr. Sorger received multiple awards such as the AFOSR Young Investigator award, MRS Graduate Gold award, and Intel Fellowship. Dr. Sorger is the executive chair of the OSA Nanophotonics technical group, editor-in-chief for ‘Nanophotonics’, CTO of BitGrid LLC, and member of IEEE, OSA, SPIE, AEE and MRS. At GWU he is a founder of the Green Renewable Energy Engineering (GREEN) institute, and currently serving on a task force of the STEM education and work force development for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). 


For more information about sustainability courses & programs,check out our Frequently Asked Questions page or stop by our office for advising hours. In case you can't make any of our office hours, please contact Dr. Svoboda at msvoboda@gwu.edu , and we will be happy to schedule some time to meet with you.  

Walk-in Advising for Spring 2017

Ariel Kagan
Sustainability Student Advisor
Email: arielkagan@gwu.edu

Office Hours for Spring 2017: 

By Appointment.
(Note: All forms must be signed by Dr. Svoboda)

Old Main, 1922 F St, NW, Room 411C,
Washington D.C. 20006.


Dr. Michael Svoboda 
Sustainability Minor Director 
Email: msvoboda@gwu.edu   
Office Hours for Spring 2017: 

Monday: 1:00-3:00PM

Wednesdays 3:00-7:00PM

Old Main, 1922 F St, NW, Room 411B,
Washington D.C. 20006.