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  • Sonja Dümpelmann

Announcing Appointment of Sonja Dümpelmann and Endowed Professorships

The University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design announces the appointment of Sonja Dümpelmann to the standing faculty in the Department of Landscape Architecture, and the designation of Megan Ryerson as UPS Chair of Transportation. In addition, three members of the standing faculty at the Weitzman School have been awarded endowed professorships: Lisa Servon, Kevin and Erica Penn Presidential Professor; Ken Lum, Marilyn Jordan Taylor Presidential Professor; and Sean Burkholder, Andrew Gordon Assistant Professor.

 “Sonja’s work exemplifies the importance of understanding landscapes in relation to collective beliefs and values,” said Weitzman Dean and Paley Professor Frederick Steiner. “She has also done much to shed light on the contributions of under-recognized designers.”

Sonja Dümpelmann’s research and writing focuses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century landscape history, and contemporary landscape architecture in the Western World, with a particular focus on the urban environment in Germany, Italy, and the United States. Her work explores the transatlantic transfer of ideas, the role of politics, technology and science, and the work of women in the field. Dümpelmann is the author of Seeing Trees: A History of Street Trees in New York City and Berlin (Yale, 2019), Flights of Imagination: Aviation, Landscape, Design (University of Virginia, 2014), and a book on the Italian landscape architect Maria Teresa Parpagliolo Shephard (VDG, 2004). Her edited volumes include Airport Landscape: Urban Ecologies in the Aerial Age (Harvard, 2016), Women, Modernity, and Landscape Architecture, A Cultural History of Gardens in the Age of Empire (Berg, 2013), Greening the City: Urban Landscapes in the Twentieth Century (University of Virginia Press, 2011), and Pückler and America (German Historical Institute, 2007). Prior to her appointment at Penn, Dümpelmann held associate and assistant professorships at Harvard University, the University of Maryland, and Auburn University; she has worked as a landscape designer at Studio Paolo Bürgi, Switzerland.

Dean Steiner has named Megan Ryerson the UPS Chair of Transportation. The designation recognizes an outstanding scholar in transportation, enabling the University to develop one of the country’s leading programs in advanced transportation education. Ryerson is associate professor of city and regional planning and electrical and systems engineering, and associate dean for research at the Weitzman School. Her work involves transportation planning and aviation systems, critical infrastructure, and pedestrian and bike safety. In her roles as scientific director and founder of the Center for Safe Mobility and as senior fellow at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP), Ryerson is pioneering new approaches to better understand and quantify multimodal safety. She has published extensively and secured support for her research from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration, among others. Ryerson is a member of three Transportation Research Board (TRB) aviation committees and serves on the Airport Cooperative Research Board Graduate Student Award Panel, the Program Committee for the International Conference on Research in Air Transportation, the INFORMS TSL Dissertation Prize Committee, and the Board of the Women’s Transportation Seminar Philadelphia Chapter Transportation YOU Program.

Lisa Servon, professor and chair of city and regional planning, is the inaugural endowed Kevin and Erica Penn Presidential Professor. Servon conducts research in the areas of urban poverty, community development, economic development, and issues of gender and race. Specific areas of her expertise include economic insecurity, consumer financial services, and financial justice. She is the author of Bridging the Digital Divide: Technology, Community, and Public Policy (Wiley, 2002), Bootstrap Capital: Microenterprises and the American Poor (Brookings Institution, 1999), Gender and Planning: A Reader (Rutgers, 2005), and The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017). Servon has contributed to The New Yorker, the Atlantic, and the Wall Street Journal.

Ken Lum, professor and chair of fine arts, is the inaugural endowed Marilyn Jordan Taylor Presidential Professor. Lum is internationally known for his conceptual and representational art in a variety of media. His installations often deal with individual and social identity formation in the context of historical trauma and the complications of official and non-official memory. He is co-curator of Monument Lab: A Public Art and History Project, which began as a city-wide art public art exhibition in Philadelphia and has become a referent for other cities in dealing with the problems of controversial monuments and statues. This project led to a book edited with Paul M. Farber entitled Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia (Temple University Press, 2019).

Sean Burkholder, assistant professor of landscape architecture, is the inaugural endowed Andrew Gordon Assistant Professor. Burkholder’s research considers the way ecology influences the urban landscape. His work has largely focused on the Great Lakes region in collaboration with the Ohio EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers. He co-directs the Healthy Port Futures project, which stresses the inherent value of landscape design research in the process of maritime infrastructure projects. Sean also serves as a design critic internationally and his work has been published widely in books and journals. 

“We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Kevin S. and Erica J. Penn, William A. Witte and Keiko Sakamoto, Matthew Nord and Erika Weinberg, Barbara van Beuren and Steven L. Glascock, and the Orville Gordon Browne Foundation, Inc. in recognizing the accomplishments of our faculty,” said Dean Steiner.

The University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design prepares students to address complex sociocultural and environmental issues through thoughtful inquiry, creative expression, and innovation. As a diverse community of scholars and practitioners, we are committed to advancing the public good–both locally and globally–through art, design, planning, and preservation.