The Midwest Landscape Lab (MidLL) is a research and teaching initiative that cultivates environmentally and socially engaged landscape architects through place-based scholarship. MidLL facilitates close collaboration between faculty and students, supporting fieldwork and research centered on ecological, material and cultural histories that shape the Midwest. MidLL promotes new and expanded forms of landscape architectural practice that prioritize experiential, field-based design methods, site-scale experimentation, and visual research.

As a research extension of Knowlton Landscape, MidLL engages with students and faculty by connecting curriculum to real-world experiential and analytical field work. MidLL strives to support and amplify individual faculty and student research and hosts in-the-field events that promote place-based scholarship.


Katherine Jenkins       Assistant Professor, Landscape Architecture

Katherine Jenkins is an Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Knowlton School and is the faculty coordinator for MidLL. Through research, teaching and practice, Katherine implements original methods of fieldwork that facilitate ecological restoration and promote creative engagement with the environment. Within this framework, she examines connections between walking and design drawing—the ways in which each delineates territory, modifies land, and leaves traces. Katherine received an MLA from the University of Virginia and a BA in painting and printmaking from Yale University.

Brendan Ayer              Lab Coordinator

Brendan Ayer is a lecturer at the Knowlton School and a landscape designer based in Columbus, Ohio. He received an MLA from the Knowlton School and is serving as the inaugural coordinator for MidLL. His work centers on engagement with the landscape through its residual materials and tracing the origin of existing conditions. His research has focused on the authentic repurposing of former industrial spaces, and he has a particular fondness for rubble.

Molly McCahan           Graduate Research Assistant

Molly McCahan is an MLA student at the Knowlton School. As graduate assistant attached to MidLL, she has contributed to the management and facilitation of MidLL Onsite excursions, the formation of the lab’s foundational mission, and support of the lab’s coordinators. Her research focuses on people and place/nature relationships; analyzing and criticizing the systems that control and impact those relationships and observing the ways in which they manifest in the landscape. Prior to her graduate career she worked as an outdoor educator, building environmental stewardship through connection with the natural world.

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