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Melissa BilecMelissa M. Bilec, PhD
Special Assistant to the Provost for Sustainability
Co-director, Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation
William Kepler Whiteford Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Melissa Bilec is the William Kepler Whiteford Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Co-director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. In October 2022, she was named to an annual appointment as the Special Assistant to the Provost for Sustainability.

Melissa has published over 150 peer-reviewed articles and secured over $13 million in funding.  Her research focuses on the sustainable built environment and healthcare.  She is committed to exploring how the built environment and healthcare can be integral to climate change solutions. She views the world and her research using a systems-level approach and is an expert in life cycle assessment. Using this view, she integrates critical built environment modeling approaches from building energy modeling to indoor air quality to develop robust strategies to mitigate climate change and deleterious environmental and human health impacts. Most recently, she is working to solve the global waste challenge by advancing and developing circular economy principles, since the built environment is a major consumer of resources and waste producer.  

Melissa is committed to diversity, inclusion, and equity. She is working to advance the issues around and the solutions to environmental justice in the City of Pittsburgh. Melissa is co-leading her department’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access committee. She is also the co-faculty advisor for Pitt Society for Women Engineering. She was awarded the School of Engineering Diversity Award 2017-2018 and received Senior Vice Chancellor for Engagement’s Partnerships of Distinction award in 2019.  

She has received four education excellence awards, and she developed the MS in Sustainable Engineering degree, co-developed a University-wide undergraduate certificate in sustainability, and the PhD Circular Economy Program. Melissa’s work prior to academia focused on green infrastructure projects, including the conversion of a 100-year hot metal bridge into a pedestrian bridge.  


Gena KovalcikGena M. Kovalcik
Co-Director, Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation

Gena rejoined Pitt's School of Engineering in July 2003 as Co-Director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. She has 23 years of experience in development, marketing, and external relations.

Gena provides administrative and strategic leadership for the Center, a role in which she deepens engagements and develops partnerships that promote collaboration with industry, government, foundations, and universities. Gena leads efforts and represents the interests of the Center which includes supervising personnel, financial management, and organizational practices that foster positive, impactful relationships internally and externally. She is accountable for the smooth and successful development and implementation of all MCSI events and programs. Gena concurrently serves as Strategic Advisor to the Dean of the Swanson School of Engineering. In this expanded role, Gena helps to formalize and lead development of the Swanson School’s strategic processes and operationalizing its strategy across all units. She is also charged with forging new partnerships and working relationships across Pitt, our community, and our region.

Gena previously served as Vice President for Development at Shady Side Academy and, before that, as Senior Executive Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Pitt's School of Engineering. Prior to working at Pitt's engineering school, she managed donor relations and special events at Carnegie Mellon University. A native of Pittsburgh, she holds a B.A. from Penn State University in journalism and political science and a Master's of Management and Public Policy with a certificate in nonprofit management from Pitt.

Gena currently serves as a member of the Allegheny County Green Action Team and on the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Green Innovators.