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Stephen Mainzer

Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture
Stephen Mainzer
Contact
spm192@psu.edu
229 Stuckeman Family Building
Instagram drmainzer
Twitter drmainzer
LinkedIn @smainzer

The widening fractures across our national political landscape have polarized opinions about our systemic environmental problems. In response, my work aims to advocate for societal benefits while producing evidence that contributes to the infrastructure of research.

As a designer, educator, and researcher, I engage a socio-ecological systems approach to exploring how political and environmental sentiment drives the decision dynamics of coupled human and natural systems. I aim to identify new theoretical frameworks that describe the complex interactions between a person or community’s values and their social and biophysical environment. By building upon the field theories of landscape, community, and behavior, I explore the conflicts implicit in: the socio-ecological drivers of voting; the politics, place, and race of the coronavirus pandemic; and the urban-rural dynamics of solar energy suitability. My methods draw upon a background in professional practice and a transdisciplinary doctoral program to apply systems-thinking, geographic information systems, statistics, and qualitative techniques.

I teach across the landscape architecture curriculum with a focus on the introductory studio design process, culture, and communication. I encourage nascent designers to learn by doing, develop self-critique, and think independently through an equitably scaffolded process that meets students where they are while preparing them for a rigorous nationally-ranked curriculum.

  • Education
    • 2017 Ph.D., dual title – Architecture & Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment. The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA.
    • 2011 MS, Landscape Architecture. The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA.
    • 2005 BLA, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA.
  • Courses Taught
    • Summer Intensive Program (SIP)
    • Introductory Design Studio I
    • Skills Lab I: Hand & Digital Graphics
    • Design IV: System Studio
    • Skills Lab IV: GIS
    • Design and Theory V: Advanced Landscape Architectural Design (Climate Change Studio)
    • Design and Theory V: Advanced Landscape Architectural Design (Rivertown Resiliency Studio)
    • Design and Theory V: Advanced Landscape Architectural Design (Restitching Political Polarization Studio)
  • Honors + Awards

    GRANTS & FUNDING AWARDS

    2020

    • Co-Principal Investigator, Sustainability Institute & Lightsource BP Living Labs Grant. Pennsylvania’s Solar Future: Comparing Potential between Urban and Rural Areas. ($10,000).

    2019

    • Principal Investigator, College of Arts & Architecture. Faculty Research Grant. Socio-Ecological Structure of Pro-environmental Governance in Pennsylvania Counties ($10,000).
    • Principal Investigator, College of Arts and Architecture. President’s Fund for Research in Undergraduate Education. Socio-ecological Structure of Governance in Pennsylvania ($700).

    2018

    • Principal Investigator, Center for Human Ecology. Research Incentive Grant.  Partnering with private sector agents toward framing the role of transdisciplinary design process in shaping landscapes and associated community environmental behaviors. ($1,000).

    2017

    • Co-Principal Investigator, College of Arts and Architecture. Faculty Research Grant. Deep Decarbonization and Renewable Energy in the Appalachian Mountains (DDREAM): A Pennsylvania Assessment ($5,000).
    • Principal Investigator, College of Arts and Architecture. President’s Fund for Research in Undergraduate Education. Assessing the state of landscape, community, and behavior inquiry in landscape architecture practice ($800).
    • Lead Course Faculty, The Center for Pedagogy in Arts and Design Discovery Grant. Transdisciplinary Action Research Design Studio (TARDes) for Climate Change Intervention ($700).

    2016

    • Principal Investigator, Department of Landscape Architecture & Ibberson Chair of Forest Resource Management. A community landscape theory of pro-environmental behavior: the effects of environmental values and community interaction on residential energy consumption in two Pennsylvania towns ($1500).

    2015

    • Principal Investigator, Stuckeman Center for Design Computing Student Research Support Grant. Land cover verification in Pennsylvania using cloud-based mobile tools ($499).
    • Co-Principal Investigator, Hamer Center for Community Design, Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management, Department of Rural Sociology, Department of Geography, & Department of Landscape Architecture. Community perceptions of local food: a mixed methods approach ($3,900).

    2010

    • Alma Heinz and August Louis Pohland Graduate Student Fellowship 2010 ($5000).
    • Samuel T. Atherholt Scholarship ($1000).

    SCHOLARLY AWARDS

    2018

    • Architecture Research Centers Consortium Dissertation Award.

    2017

    • Council of Graduate Schools/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award Finalist, 2017 Distinguished Doctoral Scholar, The Pennsylvania State University.

    2011

    • Best Student Paper Award, Environmental Design Research Association Conference, 2016 American Society of Landscape Architects, Student Honor Award.
    • Penn State College of Arts and Architecture, Creative Achievement Award, 2011 Landscape Architecture Foundation, University Olmsted Scholar.

    RECOGNIZED STUDENT WORK

    2018

    • Oral and Performance Award, Second place. Undergraduate Research Exhibition, Penn State. Thomas Wert, College of Arts and Architecture. “Re-envisioning Johnston Square.” (Faculty sponsor).
    • Oral and Performance, Award Third place. Undergraduate Research Exhibition, Penn State. Lucas Tranchita, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. “Potential Wetland Sites to Reduce Flooding along the Buffalo Bayou in Houston, TX.” (Faculty sponsor).
    • Library Literary Award, Third place. Undergraduate Research Exhibition, Penn State. Lucas Tranchita, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Cristina Frass, College of Arts and Architecture. “Tackling Flooding Issues in Houston.” (Faculty sponsor).
  • Exhibitions + Productions

    CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS

    2019

    • Mainzer, Stephen. Landscape Architecture Depth Studio: Adapting Drawdown Strategies for Local Climate Change Intervention. Research to Action: The Science of Drawdown (September). State College, PA
    • Mainzer, Stephen, C.A. Cole, & Leslie Hendricks. DDREAM: Deep Decarbonization and Renewable Energy in the Appalachian Mountains: a socio-ecological systems approach to evaluating ecological governance. Environmental Design and Research Association Conference (May). Brooklyn, NY.
    • Mainzer, Stephen, Kendall Mainzer, & Alexandria Chomyn. Assessing the state of landscape, community, and behavior inquiry in landscape architecture practice. Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture Conference (March). University of California, Davis. Sacramento, CA.

    2018

    • Mainzer, Stephen & Kendall Mainzer. Team-teaching strategies and effectiveness in design pedagogy: a pilot study. Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture Conference (March). Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, VA.
    • Cole, Charles Andrew, Mainzer, Kendall & Stephen Mainzer. E+D: Ecology and Design – Improving the ecological function of the designed world. Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture Conference (March). Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, VA.

    2016

    • Mainzer, Stephen. Community and Landscape Driven Pro-Environmental Behavior: preliminary findings of household energy consumption in two rural towns. Psychology of Architecture Conference (December). Austin, TX.
    • Mainzer, Stephen. Towards a transdisciplinary action research design studio: adapting a human dimensions of natural resources education structure. Environmental Design Research Association (May). Raleigh, NC.

    2015

    • Barrett, Austin, Lauren Abbott, Sarah Eissler, Carolyn Fish, Lacey Goldberg, Stephen Mainzer, & Max Olsen. Community perceptions of local food: a mixed-methods approach. International Symposium on Society and Research Management. (June). Charleston, NC.
    • Zawadzki, Stephanie J., Stephen Mainzer, & A.E. Luloff. Close, but not too close: landmarks and their influence on housing values. International Symposium on Society and Research Management (June). Charleston, NC.

    2011

    • Mainzer, Stephen & Timothy Murtha. Creating resilient neighborhoods: the relationship between ecologic principles and private development in Greendale, WI. Council of Educator in Landscape Architecture Conference (March). University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.

    2010

    • Mainzer, Stephen. Creating accessible suburbs: a background on suburban housing and public housing projects in the U.S. No)Boundaries Geography Student Conference (March). The Pennsylvania State University. State College, PA.
  • Publications + Presentations

    CONFERENCE PUBLICATIONS

    • Mainzer, Stephen. Voting for the Environment: coupled dynamics of political sentiment and biophysical environments. Architectural Research Centers Consortium Virtual Conference. April 2020.
    • Mainzer, Stephen & Travis Flohr. The Urban-Rural Battleground: statewide socio-ecological system drivers of voting in Pennsylvania. Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture Annual Conference. March 2021.
    • Mainzer, Stephen & Travis Flohr. Pennsylvania’s Solar Futures: a pilot study of solar potential across the urban-rural transect. Architectural Research Centers Consortium Virtual In-progress Colloquium. November 2021.
    • Mainzer, Stephen. The socio-spatial fractures of place, politics, and race from the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. Environmental Design Research Association Conference. May 2021.

    REFEREED JOURNALS

    2020

    • Mainzer, Stephen. Voting for the Environment: coupled dynamics of political sentiment and biophysical environments. Architectural Research Centers Consortium Virtual Conference. April 2020.

    2019

    2017

    DISSERTATION, THESIS, AND MONOGRAPHS

    2018

    2015

    2011

    SELECTED TECHNICAL REPORTS

    2014

    • Space Coast Long Range Transportation Plan, Renaissance Planning Group.
    • Pompano Beach Vision Plan, Renaissance Planning Group.

    2013

    • Space Coast Bicycle and Pedestrian Masterplan, Renaissance Planning Group.

    2012

    • Manatee County Complete Streets Policy. Renaissance Planning Group.

    2009

    • Installation Design Guidelines at Fort Drum, Fort Meade, Fort McNair, & Tobyhanna Army Depot, PBS&J, Inc.
  • Built Works

    2008

    • Potomac Yard Neighborhood, Alexandira, VA. LandDesign, Inc.
    • The Alexan at Carlyle, Alexandria, VA. LandDesign, Inc.
    • The Groveton, Owning Mills, MD. LandDesign, Inc.

    2006

    • Long Bridge Park, Arlington County, VA. Hargreaves Associates.
  • Service + Affiliations

    SERVICES

    2020

    • Department Head Advisory Committee
    • Ecology + Design
    • Graduate Affairs Committee
    • Landscape Architecture Student Society Advisor

    2019–Present

    • Ph.D. Affairs Committee, Stuckeman School
    • Department Head Advisory Committee, Stuckeman School

    2018–Present

    • Dean Search Committee, College of Arts and Architecture

    2017–19

    • Graduate Affairs Committee, Stuckeman School

    2017–Present

    • Ecology + Design, Stuckeman School

    2015–16

    • Chair, Stuckeman School Career Day Faculty Committee, Penn State. Career Adviser, Stuckeman School.

    2015

    • Judge, Penn State Undergraduate Research Exhibition.

    2013

    • Webinar Panelist, Directions Magazine. Geodesign as a Methodology for Land Use Planning.

    REVIEWER

    2017–Present

    • Landscape Journal
    • Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) Conference
    • Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) Conference

    2010–12

    • Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) Conference
  • Expertise
    • Decision dynamics
    • Coupled human and natural systems
    • Human dimensions of natural resources
    • Political sentiment
    • Environmental sentiment