Featured Faculty: Moira Zellner
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Moira Zellner is an associate professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Policy, a research associate professor in the Institute for Environmental Science and Policy, and Director of the Urban Data Visualization Lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Having completed her undergraduate degree in ecology in Argentina, she pursued graduate studies in urban and regional planning and in complex systems at the University of Michigan. Before coming to the United States, she worked in Argentina as an environmental consultant for local and international environmental engineering firms and for the undersecretary of Environment in the City of Buenos Aires, in projects related to domestic and hazardous waste management, river remediation, industrial pollution control, and environmental impact assessments.

In her position at UIC, Moira has been Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator in interdisciplinary projects examining how specific policy, technological and behavioral changes can effectively address a range of complex environmental problems, where interaction effects make responsibilities and burdens unclear. Her research also examines the value of participatory modeling for collective policy exploration and social learning with stakeholders and decision-makers. Moira also teaches a variety of workshops on complexity-based modeling of socio-ecological systems, for training of both scientists and decision-makers. She has served the academic community as reviewer of journals and grants spanning across the social and natural sciences.

Q: How long have you been a member of ACSP?
A: More than 10 Years

Q: Have you won any awards?
A: APA Academic Tech Innovator Award 2017

Q: What's your favorite project you’ve worked on?

A: Participatory Modeling and Planning for Sustainable Water Management

Q: What future goals do you have in your field?
A: We aim to build on what we learned in our participatory modeling project, to help communities, public officials, governmental agencies, and academic institutions collaborate to address a wide range of other complex environmental and social problems.

Q: How has planning school changed your daily habits?
A: Planning school has changed the way that I study and understand the world. Becoming an academic has taught me how to get things done, one step at a time.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A: A rural vet!

Q: How many different cities have you lived in and which was your favorite?
A: I've lived in Buenos Aires, Ann Arbor, and Chicago. It is hard to pick a favorite. They are all wonderful places to live in, in their own way.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
A: Europe, to find out more about my family's origins.

Q: What is the title of the last book you read? What did you learn from it?
A: I last read "The Japanese Art of Reiki," which taught me a new way to be mindful.

Q: What’s your favorite color and how would you creatively incorporate it into a planning project?
A: My favorite color is blue. I work on water sustainability, so it's pretty much present in all my computer simulations!


The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning promotes education, research, service and outreach in the United States and throughout the world by seeking to:

  • recognize diverse needs and interests in planning;
  • improve and enhance the accreditation process, and;
  • strengthen the role of planning education in colleges and universities through publications, conferences, and community engagement;
  • extend planning beyond the classroom into the world of practice.


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