Mascaro Center names Melissa Bilec as new co-director

Melissa Bilec, professor of civil and environmental engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, has been appointed co-director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, filling the role of Eric Beckman, professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, who will become director emeritus and chief of innovation and translation.

Melissa BilecGena Kovalcik continues to serve as co-director of administration and external relations. MSCI, established through a 2013 gift from alumnus John C. “Jack” Mascaro, has a mission to catalyze sustainability research and education.

“From degree and certificate programs to student and faculty research and community engagement outreach, this center is transformative,” said Provost Ann Cudd. “Eric and Gena have contributed so much to imbue sustainability throughout the University, and I know that Melissa will continue that growth.”

Bilec is a triple-alumna of Pitt, having earned her bachelor’s (magna cum laude), master’s, and Ph.D. from the Swanson School, where MCSI is headquartered. She is nationally and internationally recognized for her expertise in circular economy, life cycle assessment, energy assessment (especially within underserved communities), high-performance buildings and experiential learning.

“Sustainability has been integral to my teaching and research career, and so I am honored to carry on the incredible legacies that Jack, Eric, and Gena established,” Bilec said. “Our pillars have been and continue to be excellence in academic programs, critical research, and community engagement, toward the goal of realizing greater undergraduate and graduate growth and excellence.”

For the next five years, Bilec and MCSI leadership have coalesced around three specific goals:

Continue to expand and engage throughout Pitt to exponentially infuse sustainability into the University’s education, research, and service missions.

Develop and implement a world-class transdisciplinary graduate program that integrates climate change solutions using circular economy strategies, driven by strong industrial partners.

Fully integrate and expand all programs from the summer undergraduate research program to faculty research to establish MCSI as leaders in equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Read more about Bilec and the Mascaro Center on the Swanson School’s website.