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Circular Economy Leadership

Executive Director

Melissa BilecMelissa 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.  


Gotz VeserGötz Veser, PhD
Leonard Peters Faculty Fellow
Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Veser earned his PhD from the Fritz-Haber-Institute of the Max-Planck-Society in Berlin, Germany, and previously was Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) from 1994-1996. He later held positions at the University of Stuttgart’s Department of Process Engineering (1996–1999) and at the Max-Planck-Institute for Coal Research, Department of Heterogeneous Catalysis (2000–2002), both in Germany, before joining the University of Pittsburgh. His main research area is catalytic reaction engineering with an emphasis on process intensification and decarbonization via development of advanced reactor and process concepts for clean energy and chemicals processing.

Key Project Coordinator

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

Ms. Kovalick holds a BA from Penn State University in journalism and political science and a Masters’ Degree in Management and Public Policy with a certificate in nonprofit management from Pitt. She was an integral part of the management of University of Pittsburgh’s previous IGERT program in sustainable engineering and has 15 years of experience in project management at Pitt.