Executive Director, Past President
Michael Repkin, one of Urban Habitat Chicago’s founders, became Executive Director in October 2011. He served as President for the organization’s first five years, then stepped down to concentrate on his leadership roles in UHC’s environmental restoration and urban agriculture projects, and education programs, especially at Northside College Preparatory and Marshall High Schools.
His personal dedication to the organization’s mission is indisputable, and he is largely responsible for leading the organization on a path to sustainability, developing a proven track record for completing many projects under his watch. He has led numerous innovative initiatives including the Rooftop Gardens at Jack Clark’s Family Residence and True Nature Foods, the Joy Garden, Masterplan, and agricultural area development at Northside College Preparatory High School, 2613 Garden, James Park Garden, and others.
He is also a primary instructor for collaborative UHC environmental education programs at Marshall High School as well as our UHC Urban Agriculture Workshops series, for both youth and adults, and provides environmental educator instruction. He has lectured, led workshops, and served as an expert panelist for many additional UHC events as well as numerous external sustainability and environmental stakeholders in Chicago and Internationally.
Michael is an experienced ecological designer specializing in biological resource recovery and sustainable food production. Previous to his work with UHC, he led Chicago students in human life support systems and technologies projects for five years. While serving in the Army, his assignments included laboratory positions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. He is also President of Repkin Biosystems, Inc., a company “dedicated to enabling customers with the tools that are needed to provide human life support utilizing biological processes, and methods that are compatible with living systems”.
His experience with water purification and recovery dates back to 1982 with his projects in aquaculture. Michael’s biofiltration experience includes both in-stream and batch reactor methodologies, sessile and plaktonic algae bioreactors, aerobic and anaerobic fixed-film and fluidized bed bacterial bioreactors, pulsed and continual stream rhizofiltration, integrated aquaculture (aquaponics) and is currently developing methods for vertical marsh water recovery. Michael is also experienced in nonbiological methods of water recovery including solar distillation, deep and fluidized bed particle filtration, chemical flocculation methods, chemical absorption methods, ion exchange columns, halogen disinfection, and ultraviolet / ozone disinfection. Along with his ability to purify water, he is also capable of running all standard methods for verification of physical, chemical, and biological parameters of water quality in both field and laboratory settings.
He invented the method of Building Integrated Food Production (BIFP) and Roof Farm used on several projects, including UHC’s Rooftop Victory Garden at True Nature Foods; others include Living Panels, and Rhizofilter 1.
His public outreach on issues ranging from water issues and greywater recovery to rooftop agriculture includes appearances on or at Chicago Public Radio, The Field Museum, Loyola Earth Day, Northeastern Illinois University, and Chicago Architecture Foundation.
Please visit Michael’s blog to learn more about his projects and his interests.
Lectures and presentations
The Wonderful World of Malcolm Wells
Changing the Way Humans Inhabit the Earth
Independence Day 2009
Creating an Abundant Water Supply for All Humans
Growing Plants on Rooftops in Chicago
Gold, Not Garbage
Disseminated Biofiltration for Mitigation of Anthropogenic Contaminants
Beyond Earth Day - The Chicago 2175 Plan