Research Team

Urban Energy Justice Research Group


Dominic Bednar, Doctoral Student

Dominic is a PhD student in SNRE and 2016 graduate of the M.S. in Natural Resources with a concentration in Sustainable Systems. His thesis was titled The Intersection of Energy and Justice: Exploring the Spatial, Racial and Socioeconomic Patterns of Residential Heating Affordability, Consumption and Efficiency in Wayne County, Michigan” (click link to view).  Dominic earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland in 2013.



Tyler Fitch, Graduate Research Assistant

Tyler is a master’s student at the School of Natural Resources and Environment focusing in environmental policy and planning. Prior to coming to Michigan, Tyler received a B.S. in Environmental Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, then worked as a consultant with EPA and HUD in Washington, DC. His research interests center on interactions between climate mitigation policy and questions of environmental equity.


Sydney Forrester, Graduate Research Assistant

Sydney is a master’s student in SNRE with a concentration in Sustainable Energy Systems. Sydney received a B.A. in Mathematics and a B.S. in Earth and Environmental Engineering from Columbia University. Following that, she worked for two years in the utility industry focusing on sustainable energy programs that included energy efficiency financing and low-income community solar to improve energy access and affordability.


Kely Markley, Graduate Research Assistant

Kely is a master’s student in SNRE with a concentration in Sustainable Energy Systems. She received a B.S.M.E from the University of Mississippi. Following that, she worked for three years in Detroit Public Schools teaching high school math and science. Kely also spent a year and a half in Germany where she did research with lithium ion batteries from electric vehicles.



Jenine McKoy, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Jenine McKoy is a senior undergraduate student studying environmental engineering in the College of Engineering. She completed her first B.S in Environmental Science at Spelman College as a part of the Atlanta University Center Dual Degree Program (AUCDDEP). During her experience, she has been involved research projects studying topics such as alternative energy production, the water –energy nexus, air quality engineering, and environmental justice and urbanism.


Shiva Raissicharmakani, Graduate Research Assistant

Shiva is a master’s student in SNRE with a concentration in Sustainable Systems. Shiva received a B.S. in Architectural Engineering from the University of Tehran. She has previously worked on projects such as pollution assessment with regard to urban planning and public spaces for the city of Tehran, during an Architectural Association (AA) summer school.



Michael Reiner, Graduate Research Assistant

Michael is a master’s student in SNRE with a concentration in sustainable systems and in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He received a BS in Environmental Engineering from Northwestern University in Chicago. Following that, Michael served as a US Peace Corps volunteer in rural Paraguay for two years working with sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation.



Ben Stacey, Graduate Research Assistant

Ben is a master’s student in SNRE with a concentration in sustainable systems. He received a B.S. in Biology from Grand Valley State University. Ben served as a US Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines working with local government, community groups and non-profits in addressing coastal resource management issues.




Zhensheng Xai, Graduate Research Assistant

Zhensheng is a master student of Statistics major at University of Michigan. He received a B.S. in Mathematics from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Following that, Zhensheng has been involved several projects focusing on data manipulating and analysis.

Former Team Members

alexAlexander Gordon, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Summer 2015 – Summer 2016

Alex is a senior Political Science and Spanish major. He was the primary research assistant on several research projects. Alex’s core projects included: a historical analysis of the Department of Energy’s low-income Weatherization Assistance Program; tracking the adoption of local government Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building policies; and data management and coding for the Sustainable Communities Survey.


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Kerrel SpiveyUndergraduate Research Assistant, Fall 2015 – Winter 2016

Kerrell earned a B.S. in Environmental Studies from University of Michigan. He is currently a student in the Masters of Urban Planning program. Kerrel was the primary research assistant on a project exploring the spatial characteristics of perceptions of air quality and health concerns by race and socioeconomic status in the Kansas City MO-KS metro.


Doris Duke Conservation Scholars (Summer 2016)


Marvin Bell

Marvin is a junior Sociology/Dance major at Amherst College. He is interested in environmental law and policy, particularly as they relate to under-served communities.




Giovanni Santiago

Giovanni is a sophomore History and Environmental Policy major at Brown University. He is interested in exploring how communities of color, specifically indigenous, latinx, and black communities interact with environmental inequalities.



Marvin and Giovanni focused on two primary research projects during the summer. First, they explored disparities in state utility disconnection policies, testing correlations with state demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, and developing indices for policy comprehensiveness and state vulnerability. Second, they assisted a group of SNRE masters’ students with their project exploring waste management scenarios in major US cities. Their final research poster is shown below, click for a larger version. Click here to learn more about the DDCSP at U of M.

DDCSP Research Poster

Marvin’s and Giovanni’s Final Research Poster