A dual citizen of Germany and the United States, Ilsa Kelischek graduated summa cum laude from New York University in 2020. Majoring in politics, rights, and development within the Global Liberal Studies program, Ilsa had the opportunity to study abroad for two years in Florence and Berlin. While in Berlin, Ilsa worked as a research assistant for the policy team of Climate Analytics, an environmental think tank focusing on climate change science. She also clerked for the Committee of Food and Agriculture within the German Bundestag as a recipient of the Émigré Memorial German Internship Program. These experiences, combined with her other major areas of study in environmental science and German, influenced her thesis: "The Great Transformation of Community Gardening: The Tensions, Contradictions, and Transformative Potential of Urban Space".
While in Vienna, Ilsa will work as a US teaching assistant at two high schools. She will also partner with Gartenpolylog, a non-profit organization founded in 2007 that initiates, builds, and supports community gardening projects in Vienna. Ilsa's aim is to study the ways in which the social processes that occur in shared gardens can provide non-traditional channels for social engagement within a community. These points of intersection can be important catalysts for the social integration of migrant communities while also providing food security and encouraging the ecological revitalization of urban neighborhoods.