Our Team

The most important asset at the Sustainability Institute is our people — the faculty, staff and researchers committed to generating synergies that will establish Ohio State as a leading public institution of sustainability.

Diversity & Collaboration

The Sustainability Institute nurtures an environment where interdisciplinary collaboration and partnerships drive education, research, engagement and solutions for sustainability and resilience challenges. A dedicated team of professionals manages the institute, enabling our faculty to fully utilize the extensive capabilities of the university and our greater community. Our faculty leadership team is comprised of faculty and managers from a spectrum of disciplines who are devoted to the support of collaborative research on sustainability and resilience.  

INTERDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATION

Sustainability is an inherently interdisciplinary topic that transcends any single academic unit, discipline or sector. Sustainability and resilience research draws from the natural, social, medical and engineering sciences, and humanities, as well as from public health, policy, business and law. It’s grounded in earth, environmental and ecosystem sciences.

DRIVING QUESTIONS

Sustainability researchers at Ohio State are investigating: What factors and trends reshape our society and determine the limits of human-environment systems?  How can we more effectively harness science and technology toward sustainability? What technologies and policies are needed to successfully transition from fossil-based to zero-carbon energy? What incentives and strategies can most effectively lead to more sustainable behaviors and communities?

CONVERGENCE RESEARCH

The societal challenges of sustainability underscore the need for interdisciplinary sustainability education, research and engagement efforts that integrate knowledge from multiple disciplines and apply this knowledge through partnerships with local, state, national and global stakeholders to solve sustainability challenges.

Staff

Kate Bartter

Executive Director

Kate Bartter

Executive Director

Kate Bartter, executive director of the Sustainability Institute, manages university sustainability initiatives, such as the academic collaboration component of the Comprehensive Energy Management Project, and builds effective external sustainability partnerships. In addition, she represents the Office of Academic Affairs on key sustainability commitments such as the Energy Academic Collaboration Council and President and Provost’s Council on Sustainability. Kate coordinates efforts on university sustainability initiatives and partnerships with senior leaders in university departments including Corporate Engagement, Industry Liaison Office, Administration and Planning, Business and Finance and Student Life. She also serves on Ohio State’s Government Affairs team. 
Prior to joining Ohio State in March 2007, Kate served as the Chief Policy Advisor and Director of Cabinet Affairs for Ohio Gov. Bob Taft. In that capacity, she managed the governor’s policy staff, directed cabinet relations, coordinated inter-agency issues including strategic planning, and oversaw the operation of the governor’s Washington, D.C., office. Kate also served as the Governor’s Executive Assistant for Environment and Natural Resources throughout the Taft administration.
She holds a bachelor of science in journalism from Ohio University.

Elena Irwin

Faculty Director
Agriculture, Environmental and Development Economics

Elena Irwin

Faculty Director
Agriculture, Environmental and Development Economics

Elena Irwin is faculty director of the Sustainability Institute and a professor of environmental economics in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics.
A compelling advocate and energetic spokesperson for SI and sustainability at Ohio State, Elena develops and nurtures SI’s academic activities including interdisciplinary research programs and sustainability curriculum development across natural, physical and social sciences, engineering, public health, planning and policy, and the humanities. She leads the overall strategic direction, including cultivating campus-wide collaborative research and curriculum development efforts, partnering with academic units to recruit and mentor Discovery Themes faculty, and working with other faculty and staff leaders to develop partnerships with stakeholders and extramural funding opportunities.
Her research addresses the sustainability of human-natural systems at local and regional scales, with a focus on land use, ecosystem services and integrated models of land-water systems. She has been principal investigator (PI) or Co-PI on multiple research projects totaling over $17 million in funding from the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as private foundations. She is a member of the U.S. EPA Board of Scientific Councilors Sub-Committee for Sustainable and Healthy Communities and co-author of a 2018 report from NSF entitled “Sustainable Urban Systems: Articulating a Long-Term Convergence Research Agenda.” She is a past elected board member of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists and the North American Regional Science Council and a member of the National Research Council’s committee on land change modeling. Her research projects include development of a dynamic model of food, energy and water systems for the Great Lakes regional economy; resilient land use and management systems under a changing climate; and urbanization patterns and impacts of land use change on water quality and ecosystem services.
She earned an undergraduate degree in German and history from Washington University in St. Louis and her Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics from the University of Maryland.
She is the past recipient of a Sustainability Science Award from the Ecological Society of America and the North American Regional Science Council’s Hewings Award for distinguished young scholars in regional science. She was recognized in 2015 with an Educator Award from the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture association.

Mike Shelton

Associate Director

Mike Shelton

Associate Director

Mike Shelton is associate director for the Sustainability Institute, leading the development of a tracking and reporting system for the university's sustainability goals; managing the Ohio State Sustainability Fund; helping to manage the work of the President and Provost’s Council on Sustainability; and serving as a project manager for a number of sustainability related projects on campus.
Prior to joining Ohio State, Mike was at ScottsMiracle-Gro where he was the manager for Corporate Social Responsibility. He has worked in state government, at the Ohio Legislature, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Governor’s Office, as well as at The Nature Conservancy’s Ohio Chapter, as Assistant Director of Government Relations.

Josh Knights

Director of Partnerships

Josh Knights

Director of Partnerships

Josh Knights forges strategic partnerships with companies, nonprofits, government agencies and other stakeholders that drive sustainability outcomes for Ohio State and its partners. He works with colleagues from across the colleges to pursue opportunities that advance Ohio State’s contributions to sustainability and resilience, especially in the fields of sustainable energy, healthy land and water, and smart and resilient communities.  Josh firmly believes in the power of collaboration to solve leading sustainability challenges.  Prior to joining Ohio State in 2018, Josh held leadership positions at The Nature Conservancy, including executive director of its Ohio program and director of its Corporate Partnerships team.  Previously, Josh worked on international trade policy in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the law firm of White & Case.

Gina Langen

Director of Communications

Gina Langen

Director of Communications

Gina Langen joined the Office of Energy and Environment, now the Sustainability Institute, in 2011 as director of communications after having served in that position for the College of Engineering since 1999. Her duties include directing all aspects of internal and external communications for SI, promoting campus sustainability efforts and research advances at Ohio State and managing special events. Prior to joining Ohio State, she worked as public relations director for Burgess & Niple Engineers and Architects and served in the Ohio Office of the Governor and the Ohio Department of Industrial Relations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in public relations and a master’s degree in communications from Ohio State.

Gina Hnytka

Director, Sustainability Education and Learning

Gina Hnytka

Director, Sustainability Education and Learning

Gina Hnytka’s work as Director of Education and Learning Programs for the Sustainability Institute centers around curriculum development, experiential learning and student engagement opportunities in sustainability and resilience. Founder and co-leader of the SUSTAINS Learning Community, Gina previously led undergraduate and graduate student services and managed academic programs for the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics (AEDE). She also was program director for the Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability major in collaboration with AEDE and the School of Environment and Natural Resources. Gina has received multiple awards for her work supporting students and academic programs and for her efforts with SUSTAINS.  She believes in the transformative power of education as a tool to create new opportunities for our students to learn, grow and prepare to solve our global sustainability challenges. She holds three Ohio State degrees: a bachelor’s degree in business administration and two master’s degrees, in environment and natural resources and higher education and student affairs.

Matthew Griffin

Program Coordinator, Sustainability Education and Learning

Matthew Griffin

Program Coordinator, Sustainability Education and Learning

Matthew Griffin is the Sustainability Institute's program coordinator of sustainability education and learning. In this role, he facilitates experiential learning opportunities for students by collaborating with faculty and staff across campus. He also works to use campus as living lab for sustainability learning by leveraging Ohio State’s resources and expertise. Matthew serves as the academic co-lead for the SUSTAINS Learning Community, developing curriculum around sustainability education and facilitating events throughout the academic year. He received a bachelor’s degree in sustainability and business from Ohio State in Spring 2019 and is excited to start his professional career with the Sustainability Institute.

Maureen Langlois

Proposal Development Specialist

Maureen Langlois

Proposal Development Specialist

Maureen Langlois supports faculty in developing proposals in the sustainability, energy and resilience space. She works with multidisciplinary teams to identify opportunities and strategies that will enable their proposals to be successful and their research and training efforts to be impactful. Maureen’s background is in science communications, from the K-12 science classroom to the Science Desk at National Public Radio to the Global Water Institute at Ohio State. She holds an MS in environmental science from The Ohio State University and a BA in biology and philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis. Maureen joined the Proposal Development Office in January 2018.

Kathy Jackson

Program Assistant

Kathy Jackson

Program Assistant

Kathy Jackson is the Sustainability Institute’s program assistant, providing organizational support for the growing SI team. Her passion is helping individuals and families thrive in our complex society. She values opportunities to make positive differences with children in educational settings and families in support organizations. She also works to enhance our community through social justice advocacy efforts and to improve our infrastructures and environment. She enthusiastically embraces the power of interdisciplinary efforts and conversations to address the systemic issues facing our society.

Atar Herziger

Post-doctoral Researcher
Environment and Natural Resources

Atar Herziger

Post-doctoral Researcher
Environment and Natural Resources

Atar Herziger joined Ohio State as a postdoctoral researcher in behavior and sustainability in 2018. At the Sustainability Institute, Atar collaborates with faculty and field partners on and off campus to understand why and how individuals engage in sustainable behaviors such as recycling, energy conservation, and consumption curtailment. She conducts experiments that seek to understand the cognitive and affective processes that trigger (ir)responsible consumer behaviors, and tests interventions that aim to promote sustainable behavior. Atar manages the Sustainable Behavior (SuB) working group, which brings together behavioral researchers across Ohio State departments to collaboratively seek and pursue research opportunities in the sustainability domain. Through her affiliation with the School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) and the Environmental and Social Sustainability lab (ESS), Atar and her colleagues conduct the annual Campus Sustainability Survey, which provides insights into Ohio State students’ attitudes, knowledge, and behavior in the sustainability domain.

Atar is trained as an organizational (MA), social and economic psychologist (PhD). Some of the topics she is interested in are consumer habits, self-control, goals, and values.

Kim McIlwaine

Executive Assistant

Kim McIlwaine

Executive Assistant

Kim McIlwaine is the Sustainability Institute’s executive assistant, providing administrative support to the executive director, faculty director and entire SI team. Prior to joining Ohio State, she was an executive assistant for the Franklin County Auditor’s Office after working for several years as a legal assistant and paralegal in the Columbus area. Kim has a passion for nature and helping others learn the benefit of the natural world in our lives. She is very excited to continue her career as part of the Sustainability Institute at Ohio State.

Joan Wall

Editor

Joan Wall

Editor

Joan Slattery Wall joined the Office of Energy and Environment, now the Sustainability Institute, in 2012 where, as editor, she develops print, electronic and social media materials and edits Sustainability Institute documents and publications. Since 2001 she has worked in higher education communications, with responsibilities in writing, editing, marketing and media relations for The Ohio State University’s College of Engineering beginning in 2004 and previously for Ohio University. She started her career in journalism as a reporter and editor for daily, weekly and monthly publications covering crime and courts, community news and business, respectively. She graduated summa cum laude from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Gwyn Dalton

Administrative Manager

Gwyn Dalton

Administrative Manager

Leadership

Our Leadership Team is drawn from multiple colleges and offices across the university to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration, foster strategic relationships and generate meaningful impacts from our cutting-edge research. Our Faculty Advisory Board (FAB) advises SI on its goals, strategies and academic mission. Faculty Co-Leads provide direction for their research focus area.

Affiliated Faculty and Researchers

The Sustainability Institute is building a network of Affiliated Faculty and Researchers to support, connect and extend the sustainability work in which faculty are engaged. We support teams and networks of faculty, other researchers, students and staff at Ohio State working together and with external partners to confront the enormous sustainability and resilience challenges facing our communities.

To become an Affiliated Faculty or Researcher, visit go.osu.edu/joinSI.