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

Angie's research explores the compositions of innovative, circular-economy-focused project teams. Some of the questions she is trying to answer include:

  • What are the processes and actions of innovative circular economy project teams in practice?

  • What are the different compositions and characteristics of these teams?

  • What are the roles played by and expertise contributions of individual employees on these teams?

  • What professions or occupations are represented in these teams?

  • What professions or occupations are represented in the different roles identified?


Josh Trump

Josh's research explores how engineers think aboout climate change during stormwater infrastructure planning and design. His research includes assessments of existing projects, using environmental impact statements, qualitative interviews with professional engineers, and empirical lab experiments measuring change in neuro-cognition when climate change becomes a critical factor in engineering design and decision making. 

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Current M.S. Students

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, perceived design risk of street closures, and use of tactical urbanism for urban design prototyping. 

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Paulo Ignacio Junior

Paulo is studying the effects of concept mapping to enhance engineering problem identification during engineering design. His research applies neuroscience to measure changes in neuro-cognition through the use of concept maps.  


Ushma Manandhar

Ushma is studying how concept maps improve engineers' ability to think in systems. She applies methods from neuroscience to measure the change in engineering neurocognition during the design process and how concept maps enhance design outcomes. 


Nicholas Vicchio

Nick's research explores why Envision-rated sustainable infrastructure projects delivered using public-private partnerships (P3) tend to score higher than non-P3 projects. 

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Akul Mehra

Akul's research uses citizen-reported data to assess the effectiveness of stormwater/green infrastructure performance in large metropolitan areas. His approach to measuring the effectiveness of varying green infrastructure systems using open source data provided by citizens provides a unique feedback mechanism for municipal engineers to understand and improve stormwater infrastructure design throughout the country. 

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Current Undergraduate Students

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

  • Aahan Atrey, VT Civil and Environmental Engineering