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Moira Zellner, PhD, Associate Professor

Moira Zellner joined the Department of Urban Planning and Policy in January of 2006. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Moira earned her undergraduate degree in ecology at the Centro de Altos Estudios en Ciencias Exactas and 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 a consultant on environmental issues for local and international environmental engineering firms and for the under secretary 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. She also participated in interdisciplinary and international research projects on urban air pollution and on the spread of tuberculosis through public transportation.

In the United States, Moira's professional work includes greenway development and river restoration projects in Miami Beach and in California, and transportation surveys. In her position at UIC, she has served as primary investigator and co-investigator for interdisciplinary projects studying 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 complexity-based modeling for participatory policy exploration and social learning with stakeholders. Moira teaches a variety of workshops on complexity-based modeling of socio-ecological systems, for training of both scientists and decision-makers.

1995 - Degree in Biology (Specialization in Ecology), Centro de Altos Estudios en Ciencias Exactas, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
2000 - Master in Urban Planning, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
2003 - Certificate in Complex Systems, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
2005 - PhD in Urban and Regional Planning, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Dissertation: "Generating Policies for Sustainable Water Use in Complex Scenarios: An Integrated Land-Use and Water-Use Model of Monroe County, Michigan." Committee: Scott D. Campbell, Daniel G. Brown, Rick L. Riolo, John D. Nystuen.

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Research Interests

Agent-based modeling, complexity, environmental planning, participatory planning

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UPP 463 Complexity-based Models for Planning and Policy
UPP 506 Plan Making Studio
UPP 570 Environmental Planning and Policy
UPP 571 Economic and Environmental Planning
UPP 572 Systems Methods for Environmental Planning and Policy

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Selected publications

Refereed journal articles:
Zellner, M.L., Massey, D.; Shiftan, Y.; Levine, J.; Arquero, M. J.; Forthcoming. “Overcoming the last-mile problem with transportation and land-use improvements: An agent-based approach.” International Journal of Transportation, Special Issue on Agent Based Modeling in Transportation Planning and Operations.

Zellner, M.L.; Campbell, S.; Forthcoming. “Planning for Deep-Rooted Problems: What Can We Learn from Aligning Complex Systems and Wicked Problems?” Planning Theory and Practice.

Hoch, C. J.; Zellner, M. L.; Milz, D. C.; Radinsky, J.; Lyons, L.; 2015. “Seeing is not believing: cognitive bias and modelling in collaborative planning.” Planning Theory and Practice 16 (3): 319-335.

Hicks, A.; Theis, T. L.; Zellner, M. L.; 2015. "Emergent effects of residential lighting choices: prospects for energy savings." Journal of Industrial Ecology, Special Issue on Advances in Complex Adaptive Systems and Industrial Ecology, 19 (2): 285-295.

Zellner, M.; Watkins, C.; Massey, D.; Westphal, L.; Brooks, J.; Ross, K.; 2014. "Advancing Collective Decision-Making Theory with Integrated Agent-Based Modeling and Ethnographic Data Analysis." Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 17 (4) 11: .

Gonzalez-Meler, M.A.; Cotner, L.A.; Massey, D.A.; Zellner, M.L.; Minor, E.S.; 2013. “The Environmental and Ecological Benefits of Green Infrastructure for Stormwater Runoff in Urban Areas. JSM Environmental Science and Ecology 1 (2): 1007.

Iannone III, B. V.; Zellner, M.L.; Wise, D. H.; 2014. “Modeling the impacts of life-history traits, canopy gaps, and establishment location on woodland shrub invasions.” Ecological Applications 24(3): 467-483.

Zellner, M.L., Reeves, H. W.. 2012. “Examining the contradiction in ‘sustainable urban growth’: An example of groundwater sustainability.” Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 55(5): 545-562.

Zellner, M.L., Lyons, L.; Hoch, C. J.; Weizeorick, J.; Kunda, C.; Milz, D.. 2012. “Modeling, Learning and Planning Together: An Application of Participatory Agent-Based Modeling to Environmental Planning.” URISA Journal, GIS in Spatial Planning Issue, 24(1): 77-92.

McDonnell, S., Zellner, M. L.. 2011. “Exploring the Effectiveness of Bus Rapid Transit: A Prototype Agent-Based Model of Commuting Behavior.” Transport Policy 18(6): 825-835.

Zellner, M. L., Reeves, H. W.. 2010. “Integrating land-use and groundwater modeling: Opportunities, challenges and implications for policy analysis.” International Journal of Operations and Quantitative Management, Special Issue on Decision Making in Complex Systems, 16 (4): 389 - 414.

Zellner, M. L.; Riolo, R.; Rand. W.; Brown, D. G.; Page, S. E.; Fernandez, L. E.; 2010. “The Problem with Zoning: Nonlinear Effects of Interactions between Location Preferences and Externalities on Land Use and Utility.” Environment and Planning B 37 (3): 408-428.

Zellner, M. L.; Page, S. E.; Rand, W.; Brown, D. G.; Robinson, D. T.; Nassauer, J.; Low, B.; 2009. "The Emergence of Zoning Games in Exurban Jurisdictions." Land Use Policy 26 (2009): 356-367.

Zellner, M. L.; 2008. “Embracing Complexity and Uncertainty: The Potential of Agent-Based Modeling for Environmental Planning and Policy.” Planning Theory & Practice 9 (4): 437-457.

Zellner, M. L.; Theis, T. L.; Karunanithi, A. T.; Garmestani, A. S.; Cabezas, H.; 2008. “A New Framework for Urban Sustainability Assessments: Linking Complexity, Information and Policy.” Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, Special Issue on Geocomputation: Modeling with Spatial Agents 32 (6): 474-488.

Brown, D.G.; Robinson, D.T., An, L.; Nassauer, J. I.; Zellner, M. L; Rand, W.; Riolo, R.; Page, S. E.; Low, B.; Wang, Z.; 2008. “Exurbia from the bottom-up: Confronting empirical challenges to characterizing a complex system.” Geoforum 39 (2): 805-818.

Zellner, M. L.; 2007. “Generating Policies for Sustainable Water Use in Complex Scenarios: An Integrated Land-Use and Water-Use Model of Monroe County, Michigan.” Environment and Planning B, Planning and Design 34 (4): 664-686.

Brown, D. G.; Page, S. E.; Riolo, R.; Zellner, M. L.; Rand. W.; 2005. “Path dependence and the validation of agent-based spatial models of land use.” International Journal of Geographical Information Science, Special Issue on Land Use Dynamics 19 (2): 153-174.

Book chapters:
Zellner, M. L.; Hoch, C. J.; Welch, E. W.; 2011. “Leaping Forward: Building resilience by communicating vulnerability.” In Collaborative Resilience: Moving From Crisis to Opportunity, edited by B. E. Goldstein: MIT Press.

Working papers and technical reports:
Westphal, L. M.; Watkins, C.; Gobster, P. H.; Heneghan, L.; Ross, K.; Ross, L.; Tudor, M.; Wali, A.; Wise, D. H.; Vining, J.; Zellner, M.; 2014. “Social science methods used in the RESTORE Project.” Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-138. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 116 pp.

Levine, J.; Zellner, M.; Shiftan, Y.; Arquero, M.; Diffenderfer, A.; 2013. “Effects of Automated Transit, Pedestrian, and Bicycling Facilities on Urban Travel Patterns.” Report to the Federal Highway Administration. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.

Massey, D.; Zellner, M. L.; Cotner, L; Minor, E.; Gonzalez-Meler, M.; 2010. “Landscape Green Infrastructure Design Model (L-GrID) User’s Manual. Report and software to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois at Chicago.

Jaffe, M.; Zellner, M.; Minor, E.; Gonzalez-Meler, M.; Cotner, L.; Massey, D.; Ahmed, H.; Elberts, M.; Wise, S.; Sprague, H.; Miller, B.; 2010. “Using Green Infrastructure to Manage Urban Stormwater Quality: A Review of Selected Practices and State Programs.” Springfield; Illinois EPA (Final Report, October 2010). 146 pp.

Conference proceedings:
Lyons, L., Minor, E., Zellner, M., Slattery, B., & Shelley, T. (2012). Parsing patterns: Developing metrics to characterize spatial problem solving strategies within an environmental science simulation. Paper presented at the 2012 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA 2012), Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Slattery, B.; Dasgupta, C.; Shelley, T.; Lyons, L.; Zellner, M.; Minor, E.; 2012. “Understanding How Learners Grapple with Wicked Problems in Environmental Science.” Proceedings of the 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences, International Society of the Learning Sciences Sydney, Australia.

Shelley, T.; Lyons, L.; Minor, E.; Zellner, M.; 2011. “Evaluating a Paper-Based TUI for Spatially-Explicit Simulations.” In 29th international conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI EA '11).

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Principal Investigator:
Participatory Modeling and Planning for Sustainable Water Management in the Chicago Region. In collaboration with Leilah Lyons (Learning Sciences/Computer Science), Charles Hoch (Urban Planning and Policy), and Joshua Radinsky (Curriculum and Instruction/Learning Sciences). Funded by Great Cities Institute ($16,000), Urban Planning and Policy ($30,000), IPCE ($5,000) and Chancellor’s Discovery Fund ($40,000) (UIC), and by NSF CI-TEAM ($249,953). (2009-present)

Simulating the process of urban social exclusion. In collaboration with Nebiyou Tilahun (PI), and Vonu Thakuriah. Funded by ESRC (EU) ($331,538). (2014-present)

Workshops on Big Data and Urban Informatics: e-Infrastructure for Social Science Research on Sustainable Urban Systems. In collaboration with Vonu Thakuriah and Nebiyou Tilahoun. Funded by the National Science Foundation ($179,822). (2012-ongoing)

From farm-level management to governance of landscapes: Climate, water and land use decisions in the plains of Southern South America. In collaboration with Universidad de Buenos Aires, Universidad de San Luis, Instituto Nacional del Agua, Asociación Argentina de Consorcios Regionales de Experimentación Agrícola (AACREA) (Argentina); Universidad Nacional de Asuncion (Paraguay); Universidad de la Republica, Instituto Nacional de Investigacion Agropecuaria (Uruguay); University of Miami, Manhattan College, Argonne National Lab (US). Funded by the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research ($299,723), and by the National Science Foundation ($1,425,000). (2011-ongoing)

Effects of Automated Transit and Pedestrian/Bicycling Facilities on Urban Travel Patterns. In collaboration with Jonathan Levine and Maria Arquero (University of Michigan) and Yoram Shiftan (Technion University). Funded by the Federal Highway Administration ($819,343). (2010-2013)

Integrated study of natural resources, human impact, and environmental policy: Making complex systems accessible for secondary learners. In collaboration with Leilah Lyons (Learning Sciences/Computer Science) and Emily Minor (Biological Sciences). Funded by the NSF REESE Program ($299,225). (2010-2013)

Coupled natural-human systems in the Chicago Wilderness: Evaluating the biodiversity and social outcomes of different models of restoration planning. In collaboration with DePaul University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US Forest Service, and the Field Museum. Funded by NSF Coupled Natural Human Systems Program ($1,500,000). (2009-2014)

Green Infrastructure Plan for Illinois. In collaboration with Chicago Center for Neighborhood Technology, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program. Funded by Illinois Environmental Protection Agency ($300,000). (2009-2010)

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Room 227

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