Moira Zellner, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, UPP
Director, Urban Data Visualization Laboratory
Urban Planning and Policy
Building & Room:
227 CUPPA Hall, MC 348
412 S. Peoria St., Suite 227
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 multi-disciplinary projects studying how specific policy, technological, and behavioral changes can effectively address a range of complex social and environmental problems, where interaction effects make responsibilities and burdens unclear. Her research also examines the value of complexity-based modeling and visualization 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.
Illinois Department of Human Services, Census Data Research and GIS Visualization Pilot Project, Principal investigator
Chicago Community Trust, Robbins Renewal and Resiliency Project Management, Principal Investigator
National Science Foundation CITEAM/REU; UIC Discovery, GCI, IPCE, Participatory Modeling and Planning for Water Management, Principal Investigator
Economic and Social Research Council (EU), Simulating urban social exclusion, Co-Investigator
National Science Foundation, Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research, Farm-level management to landscape-level governance, Co-Investigator
National Science Foundation, Integrated study of natural resources, Co-Investigator
IL Environmental Protection Agency, Green Infrastructure Plan for Illinois, Co-Investigator
Zellner, M; Lyons, L.; Milz, D.; Shelley, J.; Hoch, C.; Massey, D.; Radinsky, J.; In press. “Participatory Complex Systems Modeling for Environmental Planning: Opportunities and Barriers to Learning and Policy Innovation.” In Innovations in Collaborative Modeling; edited by Porter, Zhao, Schmitt Olabisi, and McNall; Michigan State University Press.
Elsawah, S.; Filatova, T.; Jakeman, A.J.; Kettner, A.J.; Zellner, M. L.; Athanasiadis, I.N.; Hamilton, S.H.; Axtell, R.L.; Brown, D.G.; Gilligan, J.M.; Janssen, M.A.; Robinson, D.T.; Rozenberg, J.; Ullah, I.I.T.; Lade, S.J.; 2019. “Eight grand challenges in socio-environmental systems modeling.” Socio-Environmental Systems Modeling 2(2020): https://doi.org/10.18174/sesmo.2020a16226.
Sterling, E.; Zellner, M.; Jenni, K.E.; Leong, K.; Glynn, P.; BenDor, T.; Bommel, P.; Hubacek, K.; Jetter, A.; Jordan, R.; Schmitt Olabisi, L.; Paolisso, M.; Gray, S.. 2019. “Try, try again: Lessons learned from success and failure in participatory modeling.” Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene 7(1), p.9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/elementa.347.
Jordan, R.; Gray, S.; Zellner, M.; Glynn, P.; Voinov, A.; Hedelin, B.; Sterling, E.; Leong, K.; Schmitt-Olabisi, L.; Hubaceck, K.; Bommel, P.; BenDor, T.; Jetter, A.; Laursen, B.; Singer, A.; Giabbanelli, P.; Kolagani, N.; Basco-Carrera, L.; Jenni, K.; Prell, C.; 2018. “Twelve questions for the participatory modeling community.” Earth’s Future 6:1046–1057. https://doi.org/10.1029/ 2018EF000841.
Zellner, M.; Massey, D.; Minor, E.; Gonzalez-Meler, M.; 2016. “Exploring the Effects of Green Infrastructure Placement on Neighborhood-Level Flooding via Spatially Explicit Simulations.” Computers, Environment and Urban Systems 59 (2016): 116-128.
Zellner, M.L.; Campbell, S.; 2015. “Planning for Deep-Rooted Problems: What Can We Learn from Aligning Complex Systems and Wicked Problems?” Planning Theory and Practice 16 (4): 457-478.
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.
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.
Service to Community
- Calumet Stormwater Collaborative: Member, Advisor to Modeling Group and to Policy and Planning Group.
Co-Chair of Human Dimensions Focus Group, Community Surface Dynamics Modeling Systems
Elected Executive Committee Member, ComSES Network
2017, Academic Tech Innovator Award, American Planning Association
2009-2010, Great Cities Institute Scholar, Great Cities Institute, UIC
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.
2003 - Certificate in Complex Systems, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
2000 - Master in Urban Planning, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
1995 - Degree in Biology (Specialization in Ecology), Centro de Altos Estudios en Ciencias Exactas, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Zellner, M. L.; “Participatory complex systems modeling for environmental planning.” Environmental Studies Lunch & Learn Series; Tufts University; April 2019.
Zellner, M. L.; “How Effective is Green Infrastructure for Stormwater Management?” Zube Lecture Series; University of Massachusetts - Amherst; April 2019.
Zellner, M. L.; “Participatory complex systems modeling for environmental planning: Opportunities and barriers to learning and policy innovation.” Yi-Fu Tuan Lecture Series; University of Wisconsin - Madison; February 2019.
Zellner, M. L.; “Exploring reciprocal interactions between water table dynamics and land use cover decisions in flat agricultural areas.” Guest speaker, Department of Ecoregion Science; Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan; September 2018.
Zellner, M. L.; “Participatory complex systems modeling for environmental planning: Opportunities and barriers to learning and policy innovation.” Keynote speaker to International Conference on Spatial Analysis and Modeling; University of Tokyo, Japan; September 2018.
Zellner, M. L. (with Erica Goldman, Xenia Morin, and Craig Hood); “Teaching and Leading on Science in Times of Uncertainty.” Invited panelist, 2018 Council of Environmental Deans and Directors Summer Meeting, National Council for Science and the Environment; Chatham University, PA; June 2018.
Zellner, M. L.; “Participatory complex systems modeling for environmental planning: Opportunities and barriers to learning and policy innovation.” Keynote speaker, CSDMS 2017 Annual Meeting: Modeling Coupled Earth and Human Systems – The Dynamic Duo, Boulder, CO; May 2017.
Zellner, M.L.; “Participatory modeling for stormwater management and planning.” Invited speaker to the US EPA Urban Sustainability Assessment and Management Workshop; US EPA Region 5, Chicago, IL; July 2016.
Zellner, M. L.; “Participatory Complex Systems Modeling for Environmental Planning: Opportunities and Barriers to Learning and Policy Innovation.” Plenary speaker, Innovations in Collaborative Modeling; East Lansing, MI; June 2015.
Zellner, M.L., Campbell, S.; “New Tools for Deep-Rooted Problems: Using Complex Systems to Decode and Plan for Wicked Problems in Socio-Ecological Systems.” Wicked Problems in Socio-Ecological Systems Symposium & Workshop, Berkeley, CA, October 2013.
Zellner, M. L.; “Playing, Learning and Planning Together: Applications of Agent-Based Modeling to Environmental Planning.” Invited speaker to Workshop on Complex Adaptive Systems and Homeland Security Risk; Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute, Arlington, VA; July 2011.
Zellner, M. L.; Hoch, C. J.; Welch, E. W.; “Leaping Forward: Building resilience by communicating vulnerability.” Invited speaker at Symposium on Enhancing Resilience To Catastrophic Events Through Communicative Planning; Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA; November 2008.
Zellner, M. L.; “Generating policies for sustainable water use: Applications of agent-based modeling to resource and land-use policy.” Invited speaker to International Joint Commission for the Great Lakes Biennial Conference; Chicago, IL; June 2007.
Zellner, M. L.; “Planning With(in) Complexity: Using Agent-Based Models to Cope with Uncertainty in Water Management.” Invited speaker to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Cincinnati, OH; February 2007.
Research Currently in Progress
Census Data Research and GIS Visualization Pilot Project (2019 - present). In collaboration with Kathleen Yang-Clayton (Public Administration) and Janet Smith (Vorhees Center). Funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services ($716,837).
Participatory Modeling and Planning for Sustainable Water Management (2009-present). In collaboration with Leilah Lyons (Learning Sciences/Computer Science), Charles Hoch (Urban Planning and Policy), Joshua Radinsky (Curriculum and Instruction/Learning Sciences), and Dan Milz (University of Hawai'i). Funded by Great Cities Institute ($16,000), Urban Planning and Policy ($30,000), IPCE ($5,000) and Chancellor’s Discovery Fund ($40,000), and Provost and CUPPA Under-Represented Faculty Recruitment Program ($30,000) (UIC), and by NSF CI-TEAM ($249,953) and NSF REESE ($299,225). http://udv.lab.uic.edu/research/ParticipatoryModelingSustainWater.html
Simulating the Process of Urban Social Exclusion (2014-present). In collaboration with Nebiyou Tilahun (PI, Urban Planning and Policy), Joe Persky (Economics), and Vonu Thakuriah (University of Glasgow). Funded by ESRC (EU) ($331,538).
From farm-level management to governance of landscapes (2011-present). 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), the National Science Foundation ($1,425,000), and UIC Provost and CUPPA Under-Represented Faculty Recruitment Program ($30,000).
Author of “CoDMER v. 1 and 2: Collective Decision-Making for Ecological Restoration.” University of Illinois at Chicago. Copyright 2012.
Author of “SOME-GW: Exurban land-use change and groundwater.” University of Illinois at Chicago. Copyright 2010, 2011, 2014.
Author of “L-GrID: Landscape Green Infrastructure Design.” University of Illinois at Chicago. Copyright 2010.
Author of “USAFE: Urban Sustainability Framework for Energy.” University of Illinois at Chicago. Copyright 2007.
Author of “WULUM: Water-Use Land-Use Model.” University of Michigan and University of Illinois at Chicago. Copyright 2008.
Author of “WULUMOD: WULUM – MODFLOW integrated model.” University of Illinois at Chicago. Copyright 2008.