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 Professor, Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering, UIUC)
Warren Lavey (Adjunct Professor, School of Earth, Society & Environment and College of Law, UIUC)
Robert McKim (Emeritus Professor, Department of Religion, UIUC)
Codie Sterner (Coordinator of Student Sustainability, UIUC)

Student Assistants, Fall 2023

Allie Cruz (Environmental Economics and Policy; Student Sustainability Committee)
Allie Garlin (Economics and Advertising)
Wondrous Jenkins (Strategy, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship; Student Sustainability Committee)
Erin Kelley (Economics and Business)

Past Student Assistants

Peter Davis (Mechanical Science and Engineering)
Bryce Davis (Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences and Law)
Jessica Mingee (Mechanical Science and Engineering)
Lavanya Upadhyaya (Physics, Statistics)
Shreyas Venkatarathinam (Mechanical Science and Engineering)
Jack Reicherts (Student Sustainability Committee)
Lucy Nifong (Student Sustainability Committee)
Lily Perez (Student Sustainability Committee)

Specialist Advisors and Initial 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/

Professor Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela

As vice provost and the senior international officer, Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela cultivates relationships with institutions around the world while bringing together the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s vast on-campus international presence.

Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela is the Associate Chancellor and Vice Provost for Global Affairs & Strategies and Professor of Comparative and International Higher Education. Prior to joining the University of Illinois, she served as the Assistant Dean for International Studies in the College of Education and Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Educational Administration at Michigan State University. Originally from South Africa, she received her B.A. in economics from Ohio Wesleyan University, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She pursued and graduated with a master’s in labor and industrial relations and Ph.D. in educational policy studies, both from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

A former Fulbright New Century Scholar (2006), Professor Mabokela’s research examines experiences of marginalized populations and aims to inform institutional policies that affect these groups within institutions of higher education. She has devoted a significant part of her career studying higher education issues in developing and transitional countries. She is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of seven books and has published extensively in national and international journals.

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 Kelley is an experienced leader with a track record of developing impact innovations through investment and new business models. He is Global Vice President at the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter at Habitat for Humanity International. https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-kelley-3027152

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/

Ms. Suyeon Yang

Ms. Suyeon Yang worked at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters, based in Nairobi, Kenya, as an Associate Program Management Officer for four years. Her work at UNEP focused on project management, research, partnership, and policy analysis on the topics of climate change adaptation and air quality monitoring. Suyeon became part of the UNEP Global Adaptation Network (GAN) – Climate Change Adaptation Unit in 2020. Her role was supporting the coordination and operation of GAN Secretariat and the development of various adaptation knowledge products to highlight UNEP’s ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) project portfolio.She contributed to advancing the GAN’s partnerships, especially with the UNFCCC Lima Adaptation Knowledge Initiative (LAKI), and EPIC Asia network that advances environmental sustainability in urban areas through building city-university partnerships. She also supported communication and knowledge management of UNEP’s adaptation work, disseminating its lessons learned and best practices through organizing relevant events and contributing to the partner’s knowledge products and policy discussions. She also provided intergovernmental support on adaptation, especially regarding to loss and damage. 
Suyeon further worked at the UNEP Global Environment Monitoring System for Air (GEMS/Air), supporting the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of air quality monitoring projects in African countries. While supporting the projects, she collaborated closely with the government officers, NGOs, private sector, research institutions to co-develop national/urban air quality management policy and plans in Ethiopia, Benin, Botswana, and Uganda.

Dr. Judith Kohlenberger

Dr. Judith Kohlenberger is a post-doctoral researcher working on forced migration and integration. She was a contributor to the Displaced Persons in Austria Survey (DiPAS), one of the first European studies on the human capital of refugees in the fall of 2015, which was awarded the Kurt-Rothschild-Prize. Her work has been published in international journals such PLOS One, Refugee Survey Quarterly, and Health Policy.
She is affiliated with the Wittgenstein Center for Demography and Global Human Capital and teaches in the Vienna University for Economics and Business masters’ program called Socio-Ecological Economics and Policy (SEEP), the bachelor program Zukunftsfähiges Wirtschaften für Jurist/inn/en (“Sustainable Management for Lawyers”) and at the University of Applied Sciences for Management & Communication. She regularly publishes in the Austrian weekly FALTER and serves on the board of the Schumpeter Society Vienna and migrant.at. Her new book Wir (“We. The day after tomorrow”) was published in February 2021 with Kremayr & Scheriau.
At the Institute for Social Policy, she currently leads several research projects.

Key Partners at Participating Universities and Colleges

Our Supporters

The UIUC Sustainable Development Goal Competition was initially 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. Additional financial support was provided by the Student Sustainability Committee, UIUC, and the Center for Global Studies at UIUC.

The Competition is supported by the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs and Global Strategies, UIUC.

The Competition is also supported by the following centers, institutes, and initiatives: Center for Global Studies, Siebel Center for Design; Technology Entrepreneur Center; Global Classrooms; Game Studies & Design; Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment; Student Sustainability Committee.

Thank you to our generous supporters and partners!