Robert and Judy Marans/Kan and Lillian Chen Dissertation Award in Sustainability and Survey Methodology

The Robert and Judith Marans/Kan and Lillian Chen Dissertation Award in Sustainability and Survey Research (Marans/Chen Award) will support a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan who is completing a dissertation dealing with human aspects of environmental sustainability.


Bob, Judy, Lillian, and Kan (c. 1990)

The Marans/Chen Award is based on the belief that the answers to complex sustainability challenges can only be developed through technology solutions that incorporate an understanding of human behavior. The Award linking the Graham Sustainability Institute and the Institute for Social Research (ISR) is one way to be sure that interdisciplinary problem solving occurs.

The award supports a U-M doctoral candidate, from any unit at the University of Michigan, whose dissertation deals with the human aspects of environmental sustainability. The Award will support a student who demonstrates a strong commitment to fostering sustainability using innovative quantitative social research methods in combination with creativity and other disciplinary specific technical skills. The award provides funding to be used in the form deemed most valuable to the recipient during any stage of their research.

Application Process

Please see the Fellowships & Awards Homepage for award amounts and application deadlines, updated at the end of each calendar year. If you have any questions about the award process, please send an email to

Additional Expectations:

  • At one year mark, you will be asked to share an update about the status of your research.
  • Acknowledge ISR and this award’s support in publications and presentations.


Robert W. Marans is a research professor at the Institute for Social Research Survey Research Center and of professor emeritus of architecture and urban planning in U-M’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Since the 1970s, Dr. Marans has conducted evaluative studies and research dealing with various aspects of communities, neighborhoods, housing, and parks and recreation and recreational facilities. His current research considers the impact of the built and natural environments on quality of life, the role of a neighborhood in the health of Detroit residents, and issues of sustainability and energy conservation in institutional settings.

Prior to his retirement, Kan Chen was a professor of electrical engineering in U-M’s College of Engineering and computer science and is known for his efforts to apply systems engineering principles to societal problems. Both Chen and Marans served consecutively, as directors of the University-wide interdisciplinary doctoral program in urban, technological and environmental planning between 1980 and 1992.

Marans/Chen Fellows

Jess Lasoff-Santos – Psychological effects of municipal resilience planning on citizens
Aubrey Langeland – Informal Electronic Waste Recycling
Sooji Kim – Sustainability in Higher Education
James Erbaugh – Logging and conservation: Two sides of the same coin
Sarah Mills – Examining wind turbines as a farmland preservation tool
Alexandra Cohen – Sustainability Challenges, Judgments, and Decision Support

To support this fund and make future awards possible, please visit our Next Generation Giving Page.