We work to create more sustainable solutions by studying the way engineers think, design, and make forward-looking decisions about the physical systems society depends on every day. We apply insights from behavioral science, neuroscience, and data science to advance engineering design and decision making.   

Current Ph.D. Students

Emma Coleman

Emma's research predicts bicycle commuting levels in U.S. cities based on the availability of transportation infrastructure and bicycle-related policy. Her work on bicycle commuting is motivated by the positive health implications of increased physical activity. The ultimate goal of her dissertation is to determine if infrastructure and policy that stimulate bicycle commuting are associated with population health outcomes like heart disease.


Brooke Baugher

Brooke is an NSF graduate research fellow. Her research aims to understand how international service-based courses impact student learning and how students’ design decisions impact global sustainability. Through her research, she hopes to provide a framework for university engineering programs that allow students to learn relevant engineering skills while providing immediate or long-term benefits to their partner communities.


Mo Hu

Mo’s research focuses on engineering design and decision-making for sustainability. Her research applies methods from cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics to understand and overcome cognitive barriers that limit more sustainable and resilient infrastructure. She currently studies the behavior and neurocognition of uncertainty processing and sustainability valuation when making decisions about green infrastructure.


Angie De Soto

Circular Economy


Current M.S. Students

Josh Trump

Josh's research bridges a gap between infrastructure delivery and psychology. He is testing methods for project stakeholders to overcome aspects of the sunk cost bias to more quickly replace underperforming infrastructure. His research will provide future project decision-makers with a toolbox of methods to change current investment on existing, obsolete, and poorly performing infrastructure to build for a greener, smarter future.

Kase Poling

Kase is studying how geographic location and experiences of a natural disaster affect temporal discounting of perceived risks relating to climate change. He is also studying how certain demographic factors affect undergraduate engineering students’ career choices. Specifically, he is working to answer if the problems students want to address affect their choice of major and the industry sector they want to work. 

Michael Bell

Michael is studying the use of tactical urbanism to adapt to COVID-19 and the long term effects of these changes on the urban design process. 

Paulo Ignacio Junior

Paulo is studying the effects of priming interventions for systems thinking on undergraduate engineers’ brain behavior and outcomes of engineering problems. 

Sagar Sorte

Engineering Education

Current Undergraduate Students

  • Jared Albright, VT Undergraduate, double major Civil and Environmental Engineering and Computer Science

  • Akul Mehra, VT Civil and Environmental Engineering

Tripp Shealy • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering • Virginia Tech