As SEAS grows, the faculty expands

Originally published: 
March, 2019

Seven new faculty hired to tackle emerging sustainability challenges

With the appointments of seven new faculty, SEAS continues to increase its capacity to lead the way to a more sustainable and just world.

"As we look to the future, we’re growing our faculty in key areas where we can have a significant positive impact on scholarship, education, and engagement in society," said Jonathan T. Overpeck, Samuel A. Graham Dean of the school. "The scholars we’re hiring will help keep SEAS on the leading edge of addressing the most pressing problems emerging on the horizon—from water scarcity and population growth, to energy storage and transitions, the impacts of climate change, and leveraging big data. These hires will also enable our students to go broader and dig deeper."

"It’s an exciting time to be at SEAS,” Overpeck said. “With these new resources, we’re better positioned to tackle the world’s grandest sustainability challenges."


Neil Carter

Neil Carter (Spatial Science in Coupled Natural-Human Systems)

MS in Terrestrial Ecology, U-M SNRE (advisor, Dan Brown)
BS in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution, UC San Diego

Neil Carter joins SEAS on September 1 as an assistant professor. Carter comes from Boise State University, where he is an assistant professor in its Human-Environment Systems Center. Carter's interdisciplinary research examines the complex dynamics that characterize interactions between wildlife and people (e.g., provision of ecosystem services, conflicts) in a global change context. His work addresses local to global wildlife conservation issues, utilizes a multitude of spatial techniques and tools, engages different stakeholders, and informs policymaking. He is committed to providing students with exceptional mentorship and developing an exciting teaching curriculum, building on the robust research and educational programs at SEAS. His work is at the crucial intersection between basic science and pragmatic conservation action. For example, his research on fine-scale spatial and temporal interactions between humans and wildlife shows that human disturbance is creating a more nocturnal natural world. He uses a systems approach and fuses the natural and social sciences in his research, such as integrating data and theories from disparate disciplines (e.g., wildlife ecology, economics, and social-psychology) into spatially-explicit computer models to examine how social, ecological, and spatial processes influence dynamic feedbacks between humans, wildlife, and ecosystems.


Michael Craig

Michael Craig (Energy Systems Analysis)

PhD in Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
MS in Technology and Policy, MIT

Michael Craig is joining SEAS on September 1 as an assistant professor. He focuses on applied research that blends economic, policy, and technology-driven methods. Using these methods, he addresses diverse issues related to the electric power sector and climate change. He has developed technoeconomic optimization models to assess system-level environmental and economic trade-offs associated with low-carbon technologies. In other research, Craig has worked with climate scientists to study how climate change impacts on electricity demand and supply might affect power system planning and operations.


Drew Gronewold

Drew Gronewold (Hydrology)

PhD in Environmental Science and Policy, Duke University
BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University

Drew Gronewold joined SEAS in January 2019, and holds an adjunct appointment in the U-M Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. His research interests lie in hydrological modeling, with a focus on propagating uncertainty and variability into model-based water resources management decisions. His specific research areas include predicting runoff in ungauged basins, monitoring and understanding water quality dynamics in coastal areas, and incorporating probability theory and Bayesian statistics into watershed-scale data sets and forecasting tools. Prior to his appointment in SEAS, Gronewold worked in the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory as a hydrologist and physical scientist.


Sara Hughes

Sara Hughes (Water Policy, Politics, and Planning)

PhD in Environmental Science and Management, UC Santa Barbara
MSc, BSc in Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University

Sara Hughes is joining SEAS on September 1st as an assistant professor. She comes to SEAS from the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto and University of Toronto Mississauga.Her research focuses broadly on the politics and governance of urban sustainability transitions, and particularly the pursuit of sustainable urban water management practices. She investigates the political and institutional dimensions of urban water governance, policies, and management practices, focusing primarily on North America. Her teaching integrates theory and real-world experiences to help students reflect critically on the policy decisions that shape the sustainability of their cities, communities, and environments.


Pam Jagger

Pam Jagger (Data Science)

Ph.D. in Public Policy, Indiana University
Master of Science in Forest Economics, the University of Alberta

Pam Jagger began her appointment at SEAS in September 2018. She is a global leader in interdisciplinary population and environment research. She is trained as an applied political economist whose research focuses on the dynamics of poverty and environment interactions in low income countries. She leads the interdisciplinary Forest Use, Energy, and Livelihoods (FUEL) Lab, and is the Director of the National Science Foundation funded Energy Poverty PIRE in Southern Africa (EPPSA), a 5-year collaborative program to support research and training on the topic of energy access in Southern Africa. She has worked as a policy research scholar with the World Bank, Resources for the Future, and the International Food Policy Research Institute.


Derek VanBerkel

Derek VanBerkel (Data Science, Geovisualization, and Design)

PhD, VU University in Amsterdam

Derek VanBerkel is joining SEAS on September 1 as an assistant professor. He is a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Geospatial Analytics (CGA), North Carolina State University, with Dr. Ross Meentemeyer, examining urban areas as complex coupled natural and human systems. Most recently he was an ORISE Fellow at the EPA contributing sociospatial models and data to the EnviroAtlas project. The breadth of research perspectives gained during these appointments (land use science, spatial economics, and ecology) has stimulated new and surprising questions about data analytics, design, and geovisualization within the interdisciplinary field of environment and sustainability.


Brian Weeks

Brian Weeks (Evolutionary Ecology)

PhD in Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia University
MA and M.Phil, Columbia University
Affiliated PhD student, American Museum of Natural History in the Department of Ornithology
BA, Brown University

Brian Weeks is joining SEAS on September 1 as an assistant professor, with courtesy appointments in LSA's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB), as well as with the U-M Museum of Zoology. He is a conservation ornithologist and an evolutionary ecologist who studies the assembly of biological communities, and how different assembly histories can impact biotic responses to global change.Since 2017, Weeks has been at U-M, as a postdoctoral research fellow in EEB, and a postdoctoral fellow at the Museum of Zoology. He integrates his training in systematics and community ecology to examine community-level biotic responses to global change. In his research, he asks whether differences in the assembly histories of communities have altered their ecologies, with a focus on their vulnerability. Weeks’ research is focused on the birds of the Solomon Islands, and integrates field biology, molecular phylogenetics, and collections-based comparative morphology.