Urban Tree Conference Presenter Bios

Keynote Presenter

Edward F. Gilman, Ph.D.

Professor emeritus, University of Florida and Principle, Wood Architecture LLP

Dr. Edward F. Gilman serves the landscape industry and allied professions with his teaching and research efforts nationwide. He received the prestigious Authors citation award in 1999 from the International Society of Arboriculture for his books and websites on trees and landscape plants. He has also received the ISA educator and research awards. He is a woodworker and father of two daughters making his home in Jacksonville, Fl., with his wife of 35 years.


Cassandra Allsup, Ph.D.

University of Wisconsin, Forest Mycorrhizal Ecologist

Cassandra Allsup’s research focuses on using soil microbes to increase forest trees’ resilience to climate change. She investigates the impact of fungi in roots, mycorrhizal fungi, on forest trees in drought conditions and altered water availability. She runs several field and greenhouse research projects at Allerton Park in Monticello, Il. Additionally, Allsup is responsible for the Forest Fungi Project, a community science project that collects roots and soils of forest trees in the eastern U.S. The project’s aim is to educate the public on the importance of soil microbes and to determine what climatic factors and host tree species determine where mycorrhizal fungal species live. Her research, Migration of soil microbes may promote tree seedling tolerance to drying conditions, was published in the journal Ecology in 2019


Kelly Allsup

University of Illinois Extension, Horticulture Educator

Kelly Allsup is a horticulture educator for the University of Illinois Extension serving Livingston, McLean and Woodford Counties. She is passionate about ecological gardening. A graduate of the University of Illinois, she is fervent about connecting the latest horticulture research to the community she serves so they may grow more food and conserve the environment. In recent years, she has become an advocate of urban tree health. Allsup provides in-person and online urban tree education programs for volunteers and industry professionals covering issues such as proper tree planting, selection, diseases and insects, evaluating tree stress, and tree pruning. Allsup also contributes to the state Urban Tree and Health Identification program.


Michelle Catania

Soil Science Research Assistant and Research Coordinator, The Morton Arboretum

Michelle Catania is the Research Coordinator for the Gateway to Tree Science at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Il. Catania began her career at the Arboretum as the Soil Science Research Assistant in 2009. Over the years, she has developed a strong expertise for both urban tree health and urban soils. She has co-authored several scientific papers related to urban soils and trees and is a frequent speaker for the green industry. Catania is devoted to getting the best management practices to the industry and is determined to communicate how to better care for urban soils.  She holds a B.S. in Biological Sciences with an emphasis in plant science and a M.S. in Physical Geography & Natural Environmental Systems where she focused on forest ecology and soil geomorphology. While earning these degrees, she worked seasonally for a prominent landscape supply firm in the Chicago suburbs where she found a niche educating contractors. When she is not at work, Catania is training two little dinosaur-loving boys to be human. 


Travis Cleveland

University of Illinois, Extension Specialist Department of Crop Sciences

Cleveland is an Extension Specialist within the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois. His primary responsibilities include conducting certification training programs, developing training materials, and revising publications for the University of Illinois Pesticide Safety Education Progam. He provides subject matter expertise in landscape horticulture, woody plants, and plant pathology. 


Asia Dowtin, Ph.D.

Michigan State University, Assistant Professor of Urban Forestry

Dr. Dowtin is an Assistant Professor of Urban Forestry in Michigan State University's Department of Forestry. She studies the relationships between urban canopy structure, spatial context, and plant-water interactions to better understand the combined impact that species composition and surrounding land use have on urban forest function. A major goal of Dowtin's work is to utilize this knowledge to inform the development of urban forest management plans, specifically those intended to optimize the yield of select regulating and supporting ecosystem services by municipal trees. Her broader research interests include regional water resource management, and information transmission systems between urban forestry academicians, practitioners, and related stakeholders. 


Chris Enroth 

University of Illinois Extension, Horticulture Educator

Chris Enroth is a horticulture educator for the University of Illinois Extension serving Henderson, Knox, McDonough and Warren Counties. Chris received his B.S. of Landscape Horticulture from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and earned his M.S. of Landscape Architecture at Kansas State University. When Chris isn’t busy at work, he enjoys spending time with his wife Amy and three young sons, Ben, Eli, and Jonah.


Chris Evans

University of Illinois Extension, Forestry and Research Specialist, Interim Illinois Master Naturalist State Coordinator

Chris Evans is an Extension Forestry and Research Specialist with the University of Illinois and Interim State Coordinator of the Illinois Master Naturalist Program. Evans currently serves as the Program chair of the Illinois Arborist Association and is on the board of the North American Invasive Species Management Association.

Jay C. Hayek

University of Illinois, Extension forestry specialist

Jay C. Hayek is an Extension forestry specialist in the Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois. Hayek received his B.S. in Forestry from the University of Illinois and his M.S. in Silviculture from the University of Idaho. Hayek’s areas of interest and expertise include hardwood silviculture, general forest management, timber sales and marketing, chainsaw safety, dendrology, and forest soils.


Ken Johnson

University of Illinois Extension, Horticulture Educator

Ken Johnson is a University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, serving Calhoun, Cass, Greene, Morgan, and Scott Counties. His educational efforts focus on fruit and vegetable production, pest management, and beneficial insects. Through his programming efforts, he aims to increase backyard food production and foster a greater appreciation of insects. He is one of the authors of the Good Growing Blog as well as one of the hosts of the Good Growing Podcast.


Jake Miesbauer, Ph.D.

Morton Arboretum

Jason Miesbauer, Ph.D. is an Arboriculture Scientist at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. His research focuses on tree pruning, tree biomechanics, and tree risk management. Jake earned his Bachelor of Science degree from University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and his Ph.D. from the University of Florida. Prior to pursuing a career as a scientist, Jake spent several years in the tree care profession as a practicing arborist, gaining insight and experience that continues to drive and inform his research. He currently serves as Vice President for the Illinois Arborist Association as well as the Secretary and Treasurer for the Arboriculture Research and Education Academy (AREA).   


Ryan Pankau

University of Illinois Extension, Horticulture Educator

Ryan Pankau has more than two decades of experience as a forester and arborist, building his lifelong love of trees into the career he enjoys today. Pankau is a University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, serving Champaign, Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion Counties. Pankau has experience with forest restoration and management as well as care of individual trees in the urban setting. In recent years, Pankau has focused on integrating the concepts of ecology into the management of plants in the built environment to create more resilient landscapes that better support the native flora and fauna of Illinois.


Diane Plewa

University of Illinois Extension, Plant Diagnostic Specialist

Diane Plewa serves as the Director of the Plant Clinic and the State Integrated Pest Management Coordinator at the University of Illinois. She is responsible for the diagnosis of common, unusual, and exotic pathogens and pests on agricultural and ornamental plant samples received at the Plant Clinic, and for overseeing Plant Clinic services including outreach focused around plant health management. Plewa works closely with state and federal regulatory agencies regarding the detection and management of invasive plant pathogens to Illinois. 


Lindsey Purcell

Purdue University, Urban Forestry Specialist

Lindsey Purcell is an Urban Forestry Specialist and Instructor in the Forestry and Natural Resources Department at Purdue University and has been involved in the community landscape and urban forestry industry for more than 35 years. As an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist, he has served communities around the U.S. as a landscape and tree professional in state, municipal and private enterprise. His educational background includes an Associate of Science degree from Vincennes University, a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University and a Master’s degree from Indiana State University.  Lindsey serves as Executive Director of the Indiana Arborist Association in addition to acting as lead Extension administrator for Purdue. Lindsey is an ASCA Registered Consulting Arborist and holds the ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification as a certified instructor by the International Society of Arboriculture.


Allyson Salisbury, Ph.D.

Morton Arboretum

Allyson Salisbury is a postdoctoral researcher at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. She is an environmental scientist who is broadly interested in how we use plants and ecological knowledge to help plants grow better in highly disturbed environments and manage pollution. To do this she uses techniques from plant physiology and soil science to examine relationships between plants and urban soils. She received her BS in Earth and Environmental Science from Susquehanna University, her MS and PhD in Environmental Science from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Allyson is also passionate about sharing and translating research to help communities and practitioners better manage their urban forests. She has also worked as an environmental specialist at the Passaic River Coalition collaborating with communities to improve watershed management.


Jessica B. Turner-Skoff, Ph.D.

Morton Arboretum, Science Communication Leader

Jessica B. Turner-Skoff spent her doctorate studying plants in the heart of Appalachia and the wilds of the Alaskan Tundra, cultivating her passion for telling the story of plants and science. As The Morton Arboretum’s first Science Communication Leader, Turner-Skoff supports the Arboretum's mission and vision by communicating expert knowledge about horticulture, tree science, and conservation to relevant audiences. Now located in Chicago, she is on the board of directors of The Chicago Council on Science and Technology and on the Advisory Council of Seed Your Future, the national movement to promote horticulture. In addition, she is the American Horticultural Society’s 2020 Emerging Horticultural Professional, co-host of the STEM career focused podcast Planted, and an adjunct professor for the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area, developing and teaching courses like Economic Botany and Science Communication for Broader Impacts.