Panel: Industrial Ecology and Sustainable Manufacturing

Room 802


Dr. Cassandra Thiel, PhD

Assistant Professor,

NYU School of Medicine & Wagner School of Public Service

Dr. Cassandra Thiel is an Assistant Professor at New York University in the School of Medicine, the Wagner School of Public Service, and the Tandon School of Engineering. Her research utilizes life cycle assessment and principles of industrial ecology to analyze and improve the environmental performance of infrastructure systems, hospital design, healthcare practice, and medical technologies. As a 2014-2015 Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence fellow, Dr. Thiel calculated the environmental footprint of cataract surgery at Aravind Eye Care System in southern India, finding that Aravind’s carbon footprint for phacoemulsification was 5% of the same surgery done in the United Kingdom.  She received her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh and BS from Michigan Technological University, both in Civil Engineering. Her graduate training was supported by the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and an NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT).


Tom Kennedy

Principal, Circular Economy Lead,


Tom Kennedy is a Principal in Arup’s New York office with over 26 years of experience in a wide range of civil engineering and site development projects worldwide. He is currently leading the Circular Economy business in the Americas and is also the Americas Civil Leader for Arup. He is engaged on a number of projects that are exploring the move from a linear to circular thinking process for clients in different sectors but predominantly based around the built environment. His prior work extends to prestigious New York based projects such as JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK, Hunter’s Point South Development, the Fulton Center, Teardrop Park and Hudson River Park as well as international projects whilst living in Russia, Middle East, South East Asia and Europe. Tom’s core skills include all aspects of design and construction, including deconstruction, associated with site development, regeneration and community enhancement from initial concept through opening day and into the lifecycle of projects.


Matt Zabel

Senior Design Manager for the Healthcare Business Group,


Matt Zabel is a designer, researcher, and maker who has led human-centered design activities in a variety of markets and companies for over 14 years. With degrees in Industrial Design and Psychology, and graduate degrees in Human Factors and Gerontology, Matt brings a unique perspective to the healthcare challenges of today. Matt is currently a Senior Design Manager for the Healthcare Business Group at 3M, leading a team of high-performing Industrial Designers and advocating for sustainability throughout the product development process and life cycle. Prior to 3M, Matt worked as a Senior Human Factors Scientist at Medtronic and Design Research Manager at Brooks Stevens Design.


Trent Gross

Director of Marketing,

Sustainability Solutions, Stryker Corporation

Trent Gross is the Director of Marketing for Sustainability Solutions, a division of medical device manufacturer Stryker Corporation. Uniquely, Stryker’s Sustainability Solutions is the global leader in reprocessing and remanufacturing of ‘single-use’ medical devices. In this role, he assumes primary responsibility for establishing a strategic roadmap and portfolio execution activities that will drive ‘sustainable’ market-leading growth for the division.

The health care industry has served as the backdrop for the entirety of Trent’s 20-year professional career and includes roles as a healthcare provider (occupational therapist), medical device sales representative, healthcare strategy consultant, and marketing professional.

Trent was a student-athlete in college playing football for the University of Wisconsin, where he received his undergraduate degree. He later received his MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Trent and his wife Tamara reside in Scottsdale, AZ.


John Chalifoux

President & Chief Operating Officer,

The Association for Sustainable Manufacturing

John Chalifoux has served as the president and chief operating officer of MERA since the inception of the trade association in January 2011. MERA is recognized internationally as the organization for companies that view remanufacturing and similar forms of sustainable manufacturing as a core competency.

At MERA, sustainable manufacturing is simply defined as “manufacturing with re-use.” The process is sustainable by definition and responsible by design. The organization highlights the corporate social responsibility of manufacturing companies that produce high-quality goods – a second time – by reusing materials and conserving embodied energy in existing products. MERA is also the home of Manufactured Again Certification, where manufacturing and sustainable manufacturing are held to the same international quality standards.

MERA (and its parent MEMA) is the organization behind the Federal Vehicle Repair Cost Savings Act of 2015, the U.S. law that requires federal agencies to encourage the use of remanufactured parts when servicing the federal civilian vehicle fleet.

Chalifoux came to MERA from the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, where he served as vice president of marketing and business development. Previously, Chalifoux was a strategy consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers, and he is an experienced marketing and sales executive, working in the automotive supplier community for Freudenberg-NOK, NTN Bearing and Valeo. He began his career with Goldman Sachs in New York.

Chalifoux earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and mechanical engineering from Stony Brook University, and an MBA from Michigan State University. He is also a graduate of the NADA Dealer Academy.