About Us

This competition is designed to harness and cultivate your creativity. We invite you to develop and explore ideas that will help to lead society to a sustainable future.

Organizing Team

Leon Liebenberg (Teaching Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, UIUC)
Warren Lavey (Adjunct Professor, College of Law and Campus Honors Program, UIUC)
Robert McKim (Emeritus Professor, Department of Religion, UIUC)
Michelle Wander (Professor, Natural Resources and Environmental Science, UIUC)
Peter Davis (Undergraduate student, Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, UIUC)

Student Assistants

Bryce Davis (Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences and Law)
Jessica Mingee (Mechanical Science and Engineering)
Lavanya Upadhyaya (Physics, Statistics)
Shreyas Venkatarathinam (Mechanical Science and Engineering)

Meet the Specialist Advisors and Judges

Participants will be advised and preliminary rounds will be judged by specialists representing a variety of universities, companies, and institutions.

Finals Judges

Ms. Margaret Cederoth

is an urban planner with two decades of experience working in sustainable infrastructure and land use and transportation planning throughout the US and globally. Ms Cederoth was appointed by Governor Newsom in 2019 to be the Director of Planning and Sustainability for the California High-Speed Rail Authority.  Her duties include policy development and implementation, station and station area planning, greenhouse gas emissions inventory, tracking, and offsets, renewable energy planning, sustainable design, and district-scale sustainability approaches. As an AICP urban planner and Envision Sustainability Professional, she previously led sustainability work for the Authority, and as a consultant she oversaw corporate sustainability initiatives for WSP USA, including their commitment to carbon neutral operations and the development of training and tools for implementing sustainability approaches on a range of infrastructure projects.  She has a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. https://sustainableinfrastructure.org/envision_board/margaret-cederoth/

Mr. Bruce Hamilton

worked at the Sierra Club for over 40 years in a variety of capacities from an organizer in the Northern Rockies to Deputy Executive Director. He was involved in designing and implementing campaigns to protect parks and wilderness areas, promote environmental justice, and combat the climate crisis. He is a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas. He retired in 2021 and now volunteers on local, regional, national, and international conservation and justice campaigns. https://www.earth.live/post/bruce-hamilton

Dr. Prasanta Kalita

is a professor of agricultural & biological engineering, and leader of the Soil & Water Resources Engineering division, and a faculty affiliate of the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) of the UI System. He has served as a Presidential Fellow of the University of Illinois System,  director of the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss, and associate dean for academic programs in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A Fellow of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) and Indian Society for Agricultural Engineering (ISAE), Dr. Kalita’s areas of research include water resources management and environmental sustainability, food security, food loss and waste reduction, and water quality. He is widely recognized for his excellence in teaching, research, and international engagement. He has worked extensively in educational development and capacity building, water resources, food production, and food security issues around the world. He has published more than 150 articles in journals and conferences and served as editor-in-chief and associate editor for three international journals. His career is marked impressively by over 40 honors and awards recognizing educational excellence, research excellence, and outstanding service and leadership. https://abe.illinois.edu/directory/pkalita


Mr. Patrick Kelley

Patrick leads Habitat for Humanity International’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter (TCIS). The TCIS works to develop market-based solutions for improved and affordable housing by strengthening affordable housing value chains, stimulating innovation and enterprise solutions for shelter, mobilizing investment capital to move housing solutions to scale, and leading research and thought leadership that influence more vibrant and resilient housing markets. The Terwilliger Center launched the MicroBuild Fund – a $100 million impact capital fund for innovative housing finance, the ShelterTech accelerator to nurture early stage companies bringing innovation to affordable housing, the Shelter Venture Capital Fund, and the Innocentive crowd-source challenges. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and has a Master’s degree from Princeton University in Economic Public Policy and International Development. He is on the board of directors for the SEEP network, EarthEnable, MicroBuild India, and teaches a course Inclusive Markets at Emory University’s Laney Graduate School. He is based in Atlanta with his wife Melissa and their two children. https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-kelley-3027152

Dr. Helen Kopnina

(Ph.D. Cambridge University, 2002) is currently employed at The Hague University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands, coordinating Sustainable Business program and conducting research within the inter-related areas of environmental sustainability, environmental education, biological conservation, and animal ethics. Helen is the author of over two hundred articles and (co)author and (co)editor of seventeen books. https://scholar.google.nl/citations?user=pE0rWdgAAAAJ&hl=nl

Ms. Kimberly Noe

Kim Noe currently serves as John Deere’s Manager, Corporate Sustainability Reporting where she focuses on strategy development and execution and public sustainability disclosure. She connects with people to further integrate sustainability within John Deere. She is responsible for publishing John Deere’s 2020 Sustainability Report. Outside of work Kim enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time with family and friends. Kim graduated from UIUC in 2012 with a BS in Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

Dr. Mona Sarfaty

MD, Executive Director: Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University. https://www.climatechangecommunication.org/team-view/mona-sarfaty/

Our Partners

The UIUC Sustainable Development Goal Competition was made possible by generous support from: The Robert Rosencranz Memorial Charitable Fund, the anonymous donor-advised funds at The Chicago Community Foundation and at Fidelity Charitable, and the UIUC Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture Program  
The Competition is supported by the following centers, institutes, and initiatives: Siebel Center for Design; Technology Entrepreneur Center; Global Classrooms; Game Studies & Design; Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment; Student Sustainability Committee.
The top entrants will get the opportunity to share their sustainability ideas with thousands others participating in the World Sustainable Development Teach-In Day 2021, December 2 (European School of Sustainability Science and Research, The Hamburg University of Applied Sciences).

Thank you to our generous supporters and partners!