Chatham News


PITTSBURGH:  The Falk School of Sustainability at Chatham University announced the appointment of three new faculty members in the areas of agroecology, water resources and aquaculture.  John R. Taylor, Ph.D. was appointed the Assistant Professor of Sustainable Agroecology; Ryan Utz, Ph.D. was appointed the Assistant Professor of Water Resources, and Roy Weitzell, Ph.D. was appointed the Director of Aquaculture laboratory.

Dr. John Taylor is an agroecologist whose research and teaching focuses on urban and peri-urban food systems. His research explores the social and ecological dynamics of food production at multiple scales – from home gardens to farms – with the overall goal of strengthening local food systems. Dr. Taylor has published research on the spatial distribution of gardens and farms in Chicago, the contributions of home gardens to urban ecosystems, and the backyard and vacant lot gardens of ethnic and migrant households in Chicago. His current research focuses on identifying best management practices for sustainable intensive production in urban and peri-urban environments. Dr. Taylor brings to the University a diverse professional and academic background that complements his expertise in agroecology and urban agriculture. Before returning to school for his Ph.D. in Crop Sciences from the University of Illinois, he managed national education studies, practiced landscape architecture in metropolitan Washington, D.C. and taught landscape architecture in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Dr. Utz is an aquatic ecologist who focuses on urban streams, salmonids, ecological restoration, and detecting environmental trends at broad spatio-temporal scales. His other academic interests are fisheries science and decadal-scale physicochemical changes in stream ecosystems. Prior to joining Chatham, Dr. Utz served as a staff scientist at the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) in Boulder, Colorado. Past research projects have included an assessment of river enhancement to improve habitat for Chinook salmon in California’s Central Valley, comparing how effects of urbanization on streams differ between ecoregions of Maryland, and exploring bioenergetic patterns of brook trout in West Virginia. Dr. Utz earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.

Dr. Weitzell is the Aquatic Laboratory Director in the Falk School of Sustainability, where he coordinates operation of the School’s recirculating aquaculture systems, culturing fish and other aquatic organisms in support of teaching and research within Chatham’s Sustainability and Food Studies programs.  Weitzell joins Chatham from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he helped run the Healthy Watersheds Program, working with state and tribal stakeholders to identify and protect networks of healthy watersheds and green infrastructure across the United States.  His current research focuses on physical alterations to headwater streams during watershed urbanization, and the associated impacts to aquatic biodiversity at multiple scales.  Dr. Weitzell brings a diverse background in landscape ecology, biological monitoring, and conservation science to the position, and looks forward to working with students, faculty, and the public, to promote the practices of sustainable aquaculture, and its incorporation into local and regional watershed planning.  Dr. Weitzell earned his Ph.D. from The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

 About the Falk School of Sustainability
The Falk School of Sustainability was founded in 2010 as one of the first schools in the country dedicated to the study of sustainability. The school is housed on Chatham’s 388-acre net zero, Eden Hall Campus, the world’s first living and learning community built from the ground up for the study and practice of sustainability. With an emphasis on experiential learning, the Falk School is dedicated to producing professional leaders who will identify and overcome current and future sustainability challenges across a range of environments. The Falk School offers a Bachelor and Master of Sustainability, a Master of Arts in Food Studies and a dual-degree MBA and Master of Sustainability degree.