2861 Mission Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 (Room 247) sustainablesystemsresearch@gmail.com 831.708.5836

About SSRF

Our History

SSRF was founded in 2015 by Ronnie D. Lipschutz, Kevin W. Bell and Thomas Rettenwender.

SSRF’s primary goal is to become the “go-to” place for information about sustainability-related problems and solutions.  Our education, research and policy efforts seek to provide accurate, comprehensive, and widely accessible information to the public about local problems and solutions. We seek the enhancement of regional environmental quality and sustainability through collaborative policy research and project development by way of our four programmatic areas: education; research; public policy, and project incubation.  SSRF’s objectives are:

Objective 1: Education. SSRF’s education programs seek to offer high school and university students and post-graduates the knowledge and know-how to hone skills needed for success through hands-on training in sustainability-related systems design and development in areas such as energy, food, water, transportation, waste, and housing, among others.

Objective 2: Research. SSRF staff and interns conduct applied research focused on local and regional “wicked” problems and issues, such as waste management, recycling and waste, affordable housing development, sustainable urban agriculture and planning for the transition to renewable energy and power.

Objective 3: Public policy & advocacy: SSRF works on local environmental issues, such as the local recycling crisis, analyzes their causes and consequences, develops proposals to deal with them, and advocates for these proposals.

Objective 4: Project incubation. SSRF offers an intellectual environment, skills mentoring, and workspaces to engage and stimulate enterprising students, post-graduates and individuals who seek to launch sustainability-related projects, services and goods.

Current Staff

Ronnie D. Lipschutz

President & Co-Founder

Lipschutz is a Emeritus Professor of Politics at University of California, Santa Cruz where he taught from 1990 to 2020. He received an SM in Physics from MIT in 1978 and a PhD in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley in 1987. He has been working on environment, energy and resource issues since 1978, and was a co-founder of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security in Oakland, California in 1987. During his time at UCSC, he was co-director of the Center for Global, International and Regional Studies (1995-2008), Chair of the Politics Department (2014-16) and Provost of Rachel Carson College (2012-2018). As provost he established a new academic program in Sustainability Studies and acquired an endowment for the College.  Lipschutz has written, edited and co-edited 16 books and numerous book chapters and articles, many of them about energy, environment and resource issues.

Kevin W. Bell

Co-Director & Co-Founder

Bell is a Principal at Convergence Research, Seattle & Santa Cruz, and holds an MPA from the Kennedy School at Harvard University. He has over thirty-five years of deep experience in the areas of low-income advocacy, energy efficiency program design, education, and sustainable infrastructure, in the public, private, entrepreneurial, academic, and non-profit sectors, as well as energy regulatory policy, hydrology and resource modeling.

Kaylia Bravo

Development Director

Kaylia is completing dual degrees in Latin American Latino Studies and Politics at UCSC with a minor in Sustainability Studies. Her previous career was in Arts and Education and she has always been interested in policy.  Last quarter she was a Policy Intern for the American Sustainable Business Council in Washington DC. She is proud of the work that SSRF is doing spearheading the official internship program and offering Sustainability Now! radio shows as SSRF campaigns to raise awareness and reach out to the community at large.

Colleen Tiffin

Office Manager

Tiffin is majoring in Legal Studies and Sociology at UC Santa Cruz. She has worked in accounting and administrative organization and management in the travel industry.

Beatriz Smith

Research Analyst & Project Coordinator.

Beatriz earned an Associate Degree with an emphasis in Mathematics, Engineering and Sciences at De Anza College. She is currently completing a Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies from San Francisco State University. She has experience in  data entry, operations management, project planning, and in operations for single or multiple land surveys.

Tati Martinez

Research Intern

Tati Martinez is currently a third-year undergraduate student at UC Santa Cruz pursuing a B.A. in Global Economics with a minor in Sustainability Studies. She is currently interning at SSRF researching sustainable and biodegradable packaging alternatives for local businesses under the Waste Not, Want Not initiative, as well as working part-time at Snap Taco in Santa Cruz. 

Sabrina Manrique

Project Manager Intern

Sabrina is currently majoring in Technology Information Management at UC, Santa Cruz. She has experience managing numerous projects involving engineering, programming, education, leadership and environmental activism. Her interests are centered in utilizing technology and other resources available to make a difference in the environment and in people’s lives. Sabrina is currently managing and contributing with the Waste Not, Want Not initiative and she is excited about the outcomes that this project has to offer.

Lauren Schenck

Geopath Intern

Born and raised in Silicon Valley- San Jose, California- Lauren has a diverse background in real estate, office administration, and food service. She recently graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with her B.S. in Earth Sciences with a concentration in Environmental Geology, where she gained lab, field, and coding experience, and she will be attending Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law in the fall for their Masters of Science in Law program. Her current focus is the creation and implementation of environmental policy, and has been selected to intern at the Sustainable Systems Research Foundation via GEOPATHS, a National Science Foundation program.

Leslie Serafin

Geopath Intern

 Leslie Serafin is currently a junior studying at UCSC for her bachelor’s degree as an Earth Science major with a concentration in Environmental Geology. She is currently an intern for the summer working with the Waste Not, Want Not project.

 Rukaiya Sunelwala

Research Intern

 Hi there! My name is Rukaiya Sunelwala and I will be completing my final year at the University of California, Santa Cruz with a double major in Politics and Sociology. I hope to attend law school in the future and study environmental law. Environmental activism is very important to me and through this project, I hope we can establish a natural source of electricity to our community. 

You can find a list of previous staff here.

Board of Directors

Ronnie D. Lipschutz, President

Kevin Bell, Vice President

Thomas Rettenwender, Secretary/Treasurer, Principal Architect at Ecologic Design Lab in Seaside, California. He holds an MA and M Arch and the LEED AP, and has spent the past 20 years in the areas of architecture / urban design, education and non-profit management. He led a team of local student interns to win first prize for the 2015 Mock Firms International Design Competition with a design of the Core Tower and masterplan for a site in Seoul, Korea.

Dustin Mulvaney, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, San Jose State University. He holds a PhD in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz, an MS in Environmental Policy, and a BS in Chemical Engineering Since 2008, his primary focus has been on energy commodity chains, with an emphasis on the solar industry. His book Solar Power, Innovation, Sustainability, Environmental Justice was published by UC Press in 2019.

Sheila Davis, Executive Director, Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. She
holds a BA in American Studies from UC Santa Cruz. Sheila Davis has played a valuable role in shaping environmental policy in the high-tech industry. She cofounded the Computer TakeBack Campaign and spearheaded the first electronic recycling programs in the country. She worked as a journalist, state legislative aide, and community development specialist prior to SVTC.

Steven Mentor, Professor of English, Evergreen Valley College, San Jose. He holds an M.A from, San Francisco State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Washington.

Dr. Ann López, Executive Director, Center for Farmworker Families in Watsonville, California. She is an emerita professor and taught courses in biology, environmental science, ecology and botany in the biology department at San José City College for many years. Her book entitled The Farmworkers’ Journey summarizes the results, arguments and conclusions of her research and was published by UC Press in June 2007. She has been recognized for her work by The U.S. Congress and many organizations. In 2019, Ann was chosen as Woman of the Year by the 29th Assembly District of California. In March 2018, she was chosen for a 16th Annual Cesar E. Chavez Community Award in Watsonville.

Adina Paytan, Research Professor, Institute of Marine Sciences, UC Santa Cruz. She received her PhD in Oceanography from the Scripps Institute in 1995, was a professor of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Stanford for eight years, and moved to Santa Cruz in 2007. Her research is focused on marine biogeochemical cycles and dynamics in the present and past, and on their connection to the Earth system as a whole. She has received numerous awards and grants in support of her research and graduate students.

Marisha Farnsworth is an artist, based in Oakland, whose large-scale public space interventions explore future ecosystems, infrastructural utopias and the social and ecological implications of materiality in the built environment. Her work has been exhibited at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Venice Biennale and is in the collection of the Nevada Museum of Art. She was the lead artist for the 2017 Temple at Burning Man.