Nicole Machuca

Environmental Social Scientist, Chicago Region

Keller Science Action Center
Science Focus

      Nicole is an Environmental Social Scientist on the Keller Science Action Center’s Chicago Region Team. She co-leads the Monarchs & Pollinators Initiative and is a staff member of the City of Chicago Initiative.


      Originally growing up as a Chicago native, over time she has become deeply connected to and vested in protecting the cultural and ecological gems around Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes region. She brings her expertise in community engagement and qualitative research to the position and has spent two decades of her career working at the intersection of environmental and social issues. The most fulfilling activities for her are ones that allow her to listen to residents’ stories to help them bolster their capacity and develop participatory processes to make the change they want to make. Her practice includes empowering community members by connecting stakeholders and sharing knowledge and tools. Prior to joining the Field Museum, Nicole conducted co-produced research around the Calumet River in Chicago, in interior Alaska and in the South Carolina Lowcountry.


      Her favorite pollinators include the monarch butterfly and beetles, the latter being some of the most underappreciated pollinators of the insect world. Her outdoor hobbies include fishing, walking in Chicago’s and Cook County’s natural areas, exploring Illinois’ State Parks and canoe camping in Minnesota.