American University of Beirut

Scientific Committee


Professor Simon Bell is a Forester and Landscape Architect and currently head of the Department of Landscape Architecture at the Estonian University of Life Sciences. He is interested in aspects of the wider landscape, such as forests, rural and wild landscapes as well as the peri-urban zone. This includes planning and design aspects, forest landscape aesthetics, urban forestry, urban blue spaces, outdoor recreation and the health and well-being benefits of exposure to nature in such areas. Accessibility by people from a range of backgrounds to such landscapes has also been a feature of his research and practice. Simon was educated in forestry at The University of Wales, Bangor (now Bangor University), landscape architecture at the University of Edinburgh and took his doctorate in landscape architecture at the Estonian University of Life Sciences. His recent publication: Urban Blue Spaces: Planning and Design for Water, Health and Well-​Bein (  ​

Salma Nashabe Talhouk is a Professor of landscape horticulture in the Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management (LDEM), in the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS), at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in Lebanon. Her focus is on community stewardship of natural resources, digital technology and nature conservation, and cultural ecosystem services. She has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles, supervised / co-supervised 70 graduate students, taught 15 different courses, and produced more than 30 short documentaries on local green initiatives in Lebanon. She participated, presented, or organized more than 400 technical sessions, conferences and workshops. Talhouk is the founder of the AUB Nature Conservation Center; she served as LDEM chairperson, and as FAFS Associate Dean. Currently, Talhouk is founder and chair of the AUBotanic, she is a member of Ecosystem Services Partnership steering committee, and she is leading the development of Daskara, a nature and culture phone application.



Dr. Ali Chalak has earned his B.Sc. degree in Agriculture from the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 2000, and completed his M.Sc. in Tropical Agricultural Development at the University of Reading, UK, in 2001. He then went on to complete a Ph.D. in Applied Economics at Imperial College London, Wye Campus, UK, in 2008. Dr. Chalak worked in consulting in the UK between 2006 and 2009, where he was involved extensively in economics and customer research conducted for a variety of water and wastewater companies and other utility and infrastructure providers in the UK and Europe. Dr. Chalak joined the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences at AUB as faculty member in 2009, and is currently Associate Professor of Applied Economics. His main research interests lie in the areas of agricultural and food economics, health policy, non-market and environmental valuation, applied choice analysis, transportation economics, and agrarian political economy. He remains actively engaged in independent economics consulting for both local and international clients from the private, public and voluntary sectors. Dr. Chalak's research and consulting have yielded several publications in peer-reviewed journals.


Dr. Ellen Fetzer holds a doctoral degree in landscape architecture from Kassel University, Germany. The focus of her work at Nürtingen-Geislingen University is on advancing higher education in the fields of social innovation and sustainable landscape development. Over the past years, ERASMUS+ projects have substantially contributed to her curriculum development initiatives. Next to her teaching and research activities at Nürtingen-Geislingen University, Dr. Fetzer is currently president of ECLAS, the European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools.

Prof. Dr. Dirk Funck is a lecturer for Multichannel-Retailing, Sales, Social Innovation and Methodical Basics at Nuertingen-Geislingen University in the south of Germany. His interests in research and transfer lie in the topics of "Medium-Sized Retail", "Sustainable Community Development" and "Social Innovation". He is leading the DAAD-funded projects "Middle East Social Innovation Lab" (MESIL) and “Middle East Productive Landscapes" (MeProLand). After his studies, doctorate and research activities at the University of Göttingen, Dirk spent 8 years in leading positions in medium-sized retail cooperation. In 2011, he was appointed professor at the University in Worms. In 2014, he moved to Nuertingen-Geislingen University. Dirk was elected Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Rid Foundation for Medium-Sized Bavarian Retailers in 2011. He also works for the foundation as a trainer and coach.

Professor Agnieszka Jaszczak, Head of the Department of Landscape Architecture (University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland), Ph.D. in landscape architecture 2005, habilitated doctor 2013, professor of UWM 2021. She was visiting professor at European universities, including Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas (Lithuania), Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (Germany), University of Technology Bratislava (Slovakia) from 2010 to 2022. She carries out research within the disciplines of architecture and urban planning. Author of over 200 scientific publications and a dozen international scientific and educational projects. Author of over 70 interventions in landscape architecture, including projects of the revitalization of public spaces in cities. She presented paintings and photographic works at 15 solo and collective exhibitions abroad (including Italy, Germany, and Lithuania) and in Poland. Main research interests: urban and rural planning, revitalization of public spaces, the concept of livability and well-being, green therapy, development of cittaslow towns, nature-based solutions, and sustainable tourism.

Dr. Kumru Arapgirlioğlu - Urban and Environmental Planner and lecturer at Bilkent University. Her research interests include environmental studies from theory to practice, human attitude, participation, and decision-making in relation to urban environments, conflicts, and ethics. She is one of the founder members of the Science and Scientific Philosophy Circle (BİLFEL), between the years 2000-2016. Her specific interest areas are the European Landscape Convention; European Urban Charter; local governments, environmental management, ethics, and public lands. Recently, she works on sustainability issues as regards social responsibility and public health; health and urban open spaces; landscape integrity and human well-being; food security, productivity, cities, and urban agriculture as a regenerative tool for transforming the cities.

Leen A. Fakhoury,  Industrial professor at GJU, Jordan, with an academic experience of 30 years; heritage specialist with more than 30 academic publications, and has participated in regional and international conferences. President for CulTech (NGO) & member of the board of ICOMOS (Jordan). Her professional experience covers the Preparation of Urban Regeneration and Tourism Development Plans for the City of Madaba,  Irbid, and Kerak / Jordan. Architect heritage expert & team leader for Taibet Zaman project, a product of (Jordan Tourist Investment) for the reuse of the traditional village into Taibet Zaman, awarded the 1996 Tourism for Tomorrow Award by British Airways. In addition, Leen served as a Consultant and researcher for the Risk Management Plan of Petra organized by UNESCO office in partnership with K-Leuvan University/Belgium 2012. Team Leader/Heritage specialist for “Heritage for Development: investing in people for the protection and management of historic city centres" (H4D), ENPI-EU project in partnership with the Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation/Bethlehem, and RehabiMed Association/Spain (2012-2014).

Maria Gabriella Trovato is an Associate Professor in the Landscape Architecture for Global Sustainability program at the Faculty of Landscape and Society, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway. She is a licensed Architect and a Landscape Architect with a PhD in Landscape Architecture: Parks, Gardens, and Spatial Planning (UNIRC and the University of Naples, 2003). Maria Gabriella's most recent researches focus on Landscape in Emergency, EuropeAid project on Landscape Assessment and waste management, HORIZON 2020 on Migration governance, MEDSCAPES project funded by the ENPI/CBCMED, Landscape Atlas for Lebanon, and on FLRM (Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism) project funded by FAO and MOA.
As chair of the IFLA working group Landscape Architecture Without Borders (LAWB), she works on the Landscape in emergency research theories and practices. In the past nine years, she focused on Syrian informal settlements (ISs) in Lebanon, exploring landscape methodologies that could permit the definition of a flexible, relational and creative strategy capable of managing continuous changes and transformations.
She has worked in several countries, teaching landscape architecture at undergraduate and graduate programs, seminars, and design workshops in Europe, Canada, Africa, and the Middle East.

Beata Dreksler is an Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at the American University of Beirut, Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management. She holds a Ph.D. in Landscape Architecture from Warsaw University of Life Sciences – SGGW, Poland. She has more than 20 years of experience as a landscape architect in Europe and Central America. She worked on different projects: landscape planning and management, natural reserves, urban parks, and residential development. In 2017 she won the First Prize for The Best Public Space in Poland in a competition organized by the Society of Polish Town Planners and the Association of Polish Cities. Her research focuses on urban revitalization and landscape ecosystem services in both – rural and urban contexts.  She works also on applications of digital technologies in landscape architecture and planning.

Katarzyna Rędzińska (Ph.D.) is a landscape architect. She works as an assistant professor at Warsaw University of Technology, Faculty of Geodesy and Cartography, Department of Spatial Planning and Environmental Sciences in Poland. Her research focuses on integrated landscape planning, the identity of landscape, green infrastructure, ecosystem services, and climate change adaptation. She is an author/co-author of eighteen projects in landscape architecture, two of them awarded. She is a member of the Association of Architects of the Polish Republic and the Society of Polish Town Planners.​

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