Weslynne Ashton

Sustainable systems scientist.


Thinkers50 Radar Class of 2024.


Awarded a Jefferson Science Fellowship by the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine in 2018, spending a year at USAID.


Led Illinois Tech’s Purpose Council in 2021-2022, and its Civic Engagement Task Force in 2024.


A sustainable systems scientist, Weslynne’s research, teaching, and practice are oriented around transitioning our socio-ecological systems towards sustainability and equity. She examines how we can increase the circularity of resource use at different scales. Going beyond physical resources, she researches how organizations, economies and societies rely upon and work to regenerate multiple types of capital (e.g., human, cultural, natural and digital). At the core of her scholarship are the ideas that collaboration across organizations, supply chains and sectors is necessary to develop innovative solutions, and that solutions born in marginalized communities need to be recognized and amplified to achieve equitable outcomes.


Professor of Environmental Management and Sustainability at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Weslynne holds joint appointments at the Stuart School of Business and the Institute of Design. She also co-directs ID’s Food Systems Action Lab. Previously, Weslynne led Yale University’s Industrial Ecology in Developing Countries program, where she trained researchers and graduate students in South and Southeast Asia in industrial ecology concepts and methods, holding visiting faculty appointments at TERI University in India and the National University of Singapore. Weslynne gained her PhD and MS in environmental science at Yale University, and a BS in environmental engineering at MIT.


“Justice, Equity and the Circular Economy: Introduction to the Double Special Issue” (with C. Farne Fratini, C. Isenhour and R. Krueger in Local Environment, 2022).; “Industrial Symbiosis: Novel Supply Networks for the Circular Economy.” (with M. Chertow and S, Althaf in Circular Economy Supply Chains – From Chains to Systems, L. Bals, W. Tate, L. Ellram, eds, Emerald Publishing, 2022); “Expanding perceptions of the circular economy through design: eight capitals as innovation lenses.” (with A. Nogueira and C. Teixeira, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 2019); ‘Pathways to Cleaner Production in the Americas’ (report prepared for Higher Education for Development and the US Department of State, 2015).


Media picks



Research Connects the Dots Between Food Choices, Income, and the Environment


“Designing systems and generating solutions to make the world a more sustainable, and equitable, place.”

Stuart Crainer & Des Dearlove, Thinkers50

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