Kelly Ksiazek-Mikenas

Kelly Ksiazek-Mikenas

PhD candidate, Researcher, Author


Chicago, IL, USA.  Kelly Ksiazek-Mikenas is a PhD candidate, researcher and Presidential Fellow in the department of Plant Science and Conservation at the Chicago Botanic Garden and Northwestern University. Her research informs how urban green spaces, particularly green roofs, can be used as habitat to promote conservation of native plants and pollinators. She was awarded a Germanistic Society of America/Fulbright Fellowship to study long-term patterns of ecological succession on green roofs in northeast Germany in 2013 and now collects data primarily in the Chicago area.

Kelly has presented her work at numerous national and international conferences and her writing has been published in scientific journals such as Landscape and Urban Planning and Molecular Ecology, as well as in recent popular magazines such as Wild Seed and Helix. Kelly received Master of Science degrees from Northwestern University in both Science Education in 2003 and Plant Biology and Conservation in 2009. Prior to her work in ecology, she was a public high school teacher and developed curriculum to encourage active learning in science classes. Through her research career, Kelly has remained passionate about science education and connecting people to nature in their cities.

Along with Olyssa Starry, assistant professor at Portland State University, Kelly co-authored the children’s activity book: Growing UP in the City: A Book About Green Roofs (2014): Follow the friendly bumble bees as they venture into the city to learn about the benefits of green roofs. This 24-page activity book will help students, teachers, parents, and interested citizens learn about the many ways in which green roofs are taking urban ecology to new heights.

Both Kelly and Olyssa are dynamic scientists, educators, and green roof enthusiasts! As previous Botany in Action Fellows, they believe that plant science research should be accessible to everyone through active community engagement and effective scientific communication. They started their non-profit company, Greening Up the City, with a mission to educate people everywhere about the dynamic relationship between plants, people, and the rest of the natural world that occurs in the cities where we live, work and play.

Also see Kelly’s personal blog here:

Kelly is part of a Collaborative Video with Olyssa Starry, PhD.