Speaker Bios

Our speakers represent a variety of disciplines, across different fields.
Learn more about them and their work here.

Keynote Speakers 

Rebecca Solnit

is a writer, historian, environmental and human rights activist. She has written 15 books, including Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas (2013)Men Explain Things to Me (2014), and Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities (2006). 

James Hansen

is the director of the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions, Earth Institute, Columbia University and the former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He is the author of Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity (2009). 


Laurie Allen is a librarian at the University of Pennsylvania. As part of the Digital Scholarship group, she collaborates in the creation and collection of new forms of scholarship. She is the Research Director for Monument Lab, a public art and civic research project in Philadelphia through Mural Arts Philadelphia, and helped start the Data Refuge project to make copies of federal environmental and climate data.

Leah Aronowsky is a PhD candidate in History of Science at Harvard University. Her work deals with the knowledge practices, discursive frameworks, and methodological debates that gave shape to the biosphere as an object of ecological knowledge in the American postwar era. 

Robert Bingham  has been a professional dance artist and teacher for over twenty years.  He is currently completing a PhD in Dance at Temple University.

Eric Blasco emphasizes ecological re-connection to the land and place we live through his ecological land care business, community, and art work. 

Amanda Boetzkes is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Guelph. Her research and publications focus on the intersection of visual and creative practices with ecology. Her first book, The Ethics of Earth Art (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), considers the development of the earth art movement, focusing on how ecology transitioned from a scientific discourse to a domain of ethical and aesthetic concern. She is co-editor of Heidegger and the Work of Art History (Routledge Press, 2014). She is completing a book entitled Contemporary Art and the Drive to Waste which examines the interplay between the aesthetics of contemporary art,  global systems of energy-use, and how waste as such is defined. Her upcoming book project, Ecologicity: Vision and Art for A World to Come  analyzes the aesthetic and perceptual dimensions of imagining the ecological condition. She has published in the journals Postmodern Culture, Art History, E-flux, andReconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture among others. 

Ivan-Nicholas Cisneros is currently a graduate student in the Princeton University School of Architecture. He is pursuing a Master of Architecture professional degree with certificates in Urban Policy & Planning and Media & Modernity. His research interests include architecture and urban planning as tools for activism.

Shereen Chang is a PhD candidate in Philosophy and Graduate Fellow in the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities, researching issues in animal cognition. Shereen started birding a couple of years ago and founded the Penn Birding group in 2016 to spread awareness to others at Penn.

Sara Dean is a San Francisco-based architect and designer. She specializes in emerging digital practices, and their implications on public engagement, urban interface, and resilient design. Her research studio, VUCA, designs community engagements and installations with a commitment to open-access data and crowd-production. Sara is the Assistant Chair of MFA Design and Assistant Professor of Interaction Design at the California College of the Arts.

Isabelle Doucet is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester. She is the author of The Practice Turn in Architecture: Brussels after 1968 (2015). Her current research focuses on (environmental) counter-cultural architectures of the 1960s and 1970s.

Beth Ferguson is Assistant Professor of Design at The University of California Davis. She runs Sol Design Lab, a solar furniture design/build studio. She has collaborated with public utilities, festivals, and universities to position solar energy as a civic and public resource. She has engaged thousands of participants in the development of projects such as solar charging stations, up-cycled public furniture, Climate Kits, and Green Maps.

Jennifer Ferng is Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Sydney. She received her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and holds professional degrees in design from Princeton University and Rice University.

Chelsea Mikael Frazier is a PhD candidate in the Department of African American Studies and a fellow in the Science in Human Culture Program at Northwestern University. Chelsea is currently at work on dissertation, a study which probes the ways that dominant theoretical and disciplinary frameworks in environmental studies obscure the legibility of black feminist ecoethics as they manifest in black women’s writings, visual art, and activism across the African diaspora. 

Jesse Goldstein is an assistant professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University. His work explores the cultural political economy of the green economy, with a focus on entrepreneurship, technology and innovation. He is also a printmaker and a former member of the Philadelphia-based art collective Space 1026.

Janette Kim is an architectural designer, researcher, and educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Janette is assistant professor of architecture and co-director of the Urban Works Agency at California College of the Arts,founding principal of the design practice All of the Above, and founding editor of ARPA Journal, a digital publication on applied research practices in architecture.

Stephanie LeMenager is the Barbara and Carlisle Moore Distinguished Professor in English and American Literature and Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon. She has had a role in developing diverse green public humanities ventures, including co-founding environmental humanities journal Resilience. Her recent book Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century, represents her commitment to interdisciplinary teaching and a broad discussion of what it means to be human in the era of climate change.

Erich Hatala Matthes is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Wellesley College, where he also serves on the advisory faculty for Environmental Studies. He works on moral and political issues surrounding cultural heritage, art, and the environment.

Mary Mattingly is a social practice artist who was the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities’ 2014-2015 artist-in-residence. Currently, “Swale” is a floating food forest for New York. Mattingly’s work has been exhibited at the International Center of Photography, the Seoul Art Center, the Brooklyn Museum, the New York Public Library, deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, and the Palais de Tokyo.

Michelle Munyikwa is an MD/PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.  Her dissertation traces the way notions of refuge and practices of care take shape in the contexts of refugee resettlement, asylum-seeking processes, and other racialized displacements in Philadelphia. 

Bethany Nowviskie directs the nonprofit Digital Library Federation at CLIR, an alliance of 150+ cultural heritage organizations working to advance research, learning, social justice, and the public good through digital library tech. She also serves as Research Associate Professor of Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia, where she was founding director of the Scholars’ Lab and Praxis Program. Dr. Nowviskie has served as president of the Association for Computers and the Humanities and chair of the MLA’s Committee on Information Technology. Her past talks include the decidedly un-Ecotopian “Digital Humanities in the Anthropocene.”

Jenny Price is a public writer, artist, & historian. In 2016-17, she is a Visiting Research Associate at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University-St. Louis.

Jedediah Purdy teaches at Duke University, where he is the Everett Professor of Law. He is the author, most recently, of After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene (Harvard UP 2015) and has written in many non-specialist publications, including the Atlantic, the New Yorker, the New York Times, n+1, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Laura Raicovich is President and Executive Director of The Queens Museum where she directs all aspects of the Museum’s activities and is charged with envisioning its future. She is a champion of socially engaged art practices that address the most pressing social, political, and ecological issues of our times, and has defined her career with artist-driven projects and programs. Prior to this appointment she directed Creative Time’s Global Initiatives, served as Deputy Director at Dia Art Foundation, and held positions at the Guggenheim and Public Art Fund. She is also a writer and lectures internationally. She is the author of “At the Lightning Field” forthcoming from Coffee House Press in 2017, and “A Diary of Mysterious Difficulties” (Publication Studio 2014).

Jacob Rivkin is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Philadelphia, PA. His work focuses on how we internalize and experience landscape, memory, and wonder. He holds lecturer positions at the University of Pennsylvania and Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.

Nicole Seymour is the author of Strange Natures: Futurity, Empathy, and the Queer Ecological Imagination (University of Illinois Press), which won the 2015 Book Award for Ecocriticism from the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment. She is currently finishing a new book project titled Bad Environmentalism, a study of “improper” environmental affects such as irreverence and irony. She is currently Assistant Professor of English at California State University, Fullerton. 

Elizabeth Whiting-Pierce is a doctoral candidate in religion and ethics and Emory University. Her dissertation offers normative guidance regarding how US states that share a water source (river, lake, aquifer, etc.) should balance concerns of environmental prudence and democratic legitimacy in their policy-making processes for allocating that shared water source. She also manages the CREATE (Culture, Religion, Ethics, and the Environment) Program at Emory University’s Center for Ethics.

Kyle Powys Whyte holds the Timnick Chair in the Humanities and is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. His research focuses on Indigenous climate justice, the ethics of collaboration between Indigenous peoples and climate scientists, and Indigenous food sovereignty. He is Potawatomi and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.