Giving back to ISR… and the Earth

Bob Marans in his office at ISR (Photo by Eva Menezes)

Bob Marans in his office at ISR

“Some people think of me as an architect, some people think of me as a social scientist, some people think of me as a planner,” Marans says with a laugh. “I’m all of the above.”

Bob Marans, professor emeritus of architecture and urban planning and research professor at ISR, has stressed the importance, even the necessity, of crossing intellectual boundaries. Over the last 50 years, Marans has become known in particular for his research into different aspects of the built and natural environments and how those environments affect behavior and quality of life.

Marans has kept that interdisciplinary focus in mind as he has thought about ways that he and his wife, Judy, can contribute something more to the university and ISR.

Marans and close colleague Kan Chen, a retired professor of electrical engineering, joined forces to create a fellowship that would carry on that kind of interdisciplinary approach by supporting a graduate student who wanted to apply social science methods to the broader issue of sustainability. “The students who receive it would have the ability to do the kind of research that I’ve been doing, which I believe is important,” Marans says, “looking at links between the environment and issues of sustainability, on the one hand, and people’s behavior, on the other.”

The Robert and Judy Marans/Kan and Lillian Chen Fellowship in Sustainability and Survey Methodology has supported numerous students since its inception, and Marans encourages others who are interested in creating their own award or fellowship at ISR to do so.

“Just have a vision for what you want to do and why you want to do it,” he says. “It’s part of giving back.” His eyes skim over the books, objects, and photos that surround him. “ISR and U-M have been good to me,” he says. “This has in many ways been my home.”