Lydia Lazar joins GCI as Director, Energy and Environment Research Cluster

Welcome to the start of a new year and a new semester at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

We are very pleased to announce that Lydia Lazar has joined Great Cities Institute to direct our Energy and the Environment research cluster. From Lydia’s note below, you can see that she is extremely knowledgeable, experienced and very passionate.  We are so thrilled to have her join our team.  Under her direction, Great Cities will be addressing issues related to water.


I am pleased to join the team at the UIC GCI and look forward to working with you on the many new and exciting challenges ahead. I come to Great Cities Institute with an academic background in both hydrology and in law, executive experience within the private and public sectors relating to both energy conservation and waste management, and over a decade of experience working as a law and policy professor and administrator within universities in Chicago and New York.

I bring a passion for understanding the “story behind the story” when it comes to mapping and analyzing environmental impacts of human activity, and I believe that the best policy decisions will emerge when the most inclusive and most grass roots, democratic processes are used to develop, vet and choose from among the options for action. More information about my professional background can be found here.

For the remainder of the 2015-2016 academic year, I will be focused on developing new research proposals and identifying and engaging potential academic collaborators across the UIC campus and throughout the world.

Within the research mandate of GCI’s Energy and the Environment cluster, we will direct a substantial amount of our attention to issues related to Water Privatization and Water Resource Management strategies, and we expect research topics to include:

  • A look at the management of water as a national resource, with a focus on such topics as:
    • The adequacy of existing legal protections and incentives regarding the use of water at common law and under statute,
    • The underlying legal and social expectations relating to access to water as a “right;”
    • The pricing of water access in communities for individuals and for industry, including agriculture;
    • The evolving national and global norms for sustainable use, protection and recharge of water resources.
  • Investigation of how urbanization and other built environment development activities impact local and regional water resources:
    • US and non-US trends with respect to water utilization at the local, regional and national level, and concerns about subsidized potable water use in industry, agriculture;
    • Mapping of access to, and pricing of, potable water within the US.
  • A look at the management of public water infrastructure in the US and the current state of public investment in aging and obsolete systems;
    • Evaluating the pros and cons of privatizing formerly publicly managed water resources;
    • Assessing and understanding the “water-energy” nexus in the context of public and private investments in fossil fuel distribution systems.
  • Asking questions about the relationship of water management strategies to national security issues:
    • Assessing sustainable agriculture, irrigation and best practices in water management for food production at the local and regional level;
    • Tracking the impacts of the rapid development of urban agriculture facilities in the Midwest, nationally and internationally;
    • Looking at emerging technologies and investments in desalinization and recycling and re-use of water by individual households and communities.

These are just some of our ideas for research projects related to water, and we welcome your thoughts and suggestions for areas you’d like to see tackled by the GCI’s Energy and Environment research cluster.  Contact me, Lydia Lazar, directly at if you have an idea or want to share some knowledge that relates to our areas of interest.