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Graduate Students


Leah Anne Dundon

Leah Dundon is a practicing attorney with the law firm of Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., one of the nation’s premier environmental law firms. Her practice has focused on civil litigation in both state and federal courts and on advising clients on regulatory matters arising under environmental laws. She has also served as the chair of the Committee on Innovations, Management Systems and Trading, a committee of the American Bar Association’s Section of the Environment, Energy and Resources. Leah is currently working on her Ph.D. through the Center for Environmental Management Studies at Vanderbilt University and is part of a research group that focuses on enterprise risk management, assessing the impacts of extreme weather on infrastructure adaptation, and the strategic and operational deployment of intelligent transportation systems.

Leah received her law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1997 and her B.A. from American University in 1993.

Kate Nelson

Kate Nelson is a doctoral student in Environmental Engineering, Management and Policy at Vanderbilt University, an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program that integrates social and technical systems to address environmental challenges. She received a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Oklahoma and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis where she served as Lab Manager of the Nano Research Facility, a member of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network, for two years.

Kate’s research interests are in coupled human and natural systems and include: environmental justice, spatial relationships between social vulnerability and physical exposure to hazards, and adaptive management strategies related to climate change and natural hazards. She is currently focused on development of high spatial resolution social vulnerability indices and modeling of climate change effects on barge transportation along the Mississippi River.

John Jacob Nay

John Jacob Nay is a doctoral student in Integrated Computational Decision Science, an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program at Vanderbilt University focused on utilizing computational and statistical models to better understand and improve decision-making. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and with High Distinction from the University of Virginia and has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and the Senator John Warner Public Leadership Research Award. His professional experience includes interning for the Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives and working at an environmental policy firm in Washington, D.C.

He is currently designing experiments to investigate behavior relevant to climate change adaptation. In addition to investigating economic and psychological factors that may influence adaptation outcomes, by coupling agent-based simulations with data on physical processes he intends to model dynamics of integrated human-natural-engineered systems.

John specializes in: combing behavioral game theory and artificial intelligence to create predictive models of individual and group dynamic decision-making using large datasets generated from economic decision experiments.

Leslie Gillespie-Marthaler

Leslie is originally from St. Louis, Missouri.  She graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1994 with a B.S. in Environmental Engineering and served for five years as an active duty Army officer in the Adjutant General’s Corps.  She received a M.S. in Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2002, and a Professional Degree in Engineering Management from George Washington University in 2011.

From 2006-2011, she served as a senior civilian employee with the United States Army.  As a member of the Headquarters Army Staff, Leslie managed the Army’s Environmental Quality Technology program, developed and deployed the Installation Status Report for Natural Infrastructure (ISR-NI), developed and implemented the Environmental Cost Model (ECS), and served as the budget manager for the Army’s environmental programs.  As a member of the staff for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment, Leslie provided policy oversight for the Army’s environmental programs (compliance, conservation, pollution prevention, natural resources, cultural resources, and NEPA) and led the Army’s development of the Campaign Plan for Sustainability.  During this time, Leslie also served a detail as a senior program manager for the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s Office, Office of the Federal Environmental Executive.  In that capacity, she led the Federal Government’s effort to develop Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction targets, publish Federal Guidance for GHG Accounting and Reporting, and led the Federal effort to develop and publish sustainability plans for 57 agencies.

From 2011-2012, Leslie served as a Senior Advisor to the EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Research and Development.  In that role, she developed multi-agency collaborations to demonstrate technologies in support of Net Zero energy, water, and waste strategies.  In addition, she provided oversight for EPA sustainability research and technology initiatives.  During this time, Leslie also served a detail as a senior analyst for the White House Office of Management and Budget.  In that capacity, Leslie provided oversight for the Department of Energy’s Fossil Energy Research Program, and Department of Energy participation in the White House Office of Science, Technology, and Policy Hydraulic Fracturing Research Strategy.

Leslie is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering at Vanderbilt University.  Her research is focused on system-wide sustainability and resilience of communities.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is a doctoral student in Environmental Engineering, Management, and Policy at Vanderbilt University, an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program that integrates social and technical systems to address environmental challenges. Prior to coming to Vanderbilt, Paul was a business manager for the Decision Sciences team at Capital One Financial. He received his M.S. in Engineering Management from Duke University and graduated summa cum laude from Georgia Tech with a B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering.

Paul’s research interests include climate change impacts on transportation networks, trends in U.S. agricultural yields, spatiotemporal relationships of extreme weather events, and risk management strategies for natural and manmade disasters. He is also an avid tennis player and heavily involved with the club team at Vanderbilt.

Andrea Gardiner

Andrea Resch Gardiner, PE, is a doctoral student in Environmental Engineering at Vanderbilt University.  She received a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from California Poly Technic State University, San Luis Obispo and a M.S. in Environmental Science and Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines.  Before coming to Vanderbilt, Andrea worked in California, Colorado, and Tennessee for a variety of engineering consulting firms such as URS, TRC, ERM, and Tetra Tech.  She holds her Professional Civil Engineering License in CA, TN, AL, and GA.  Additionally, Andrea operated her own environmental consulting firm.  She currently works as an Environmental Consultant for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Division of Solid Waste.

Andrea’s research interests include life cycle assessment (LCA) as related to waste management and freight operations and their role in decision making methodologies.  She is developing ways to assess the impact of systems on the environment to allow for better resource management, sustainability and resilience.

Jinzhu Yu

Jinzhu Yu is a doctoral student working with Dr. Hiba in the Department of Civil Engineering at Vanderbilt University. He received his BS and MS degrees in Civil Engineering from Tongji University, China in 2013 and 2016, respectively.

Jinzhu’s research interest lies in analyzing risk and resilience of critical infrastructures and he is currently working on hierarchical Bayesian kernel (HBK) techniques to assess the recoverability of infrastructure networks

Eric Burke

Eric Burke is a Master of Engineering student in Environmental Engineering, Management, and Policy at Vanderbilt University. Eric graduated from The George Washington University with a B.S. in Civil Engineering in May 2015 and spent the following year working as a project engineer for Grunley Construction in Washington, D.C. During his time with Grunley he managed LEED Certification and asbestos abatement on the $300 million IMF HQ1 Renewal Project.

Eric’s research interests include environmental policy challenges and their relationship to engineering, supply chain and port resiliency, and the future of renewable energy and sustainable transportation systems. Eric enjoys playing music, travelling, and surfing.”

Mackenzie Whitman

Mackenzie Whitman is a doctoral student in Civil Engineering at Vanderbilt University. Before coming to Vanderbilt, Mackenzie researched risk analysis of multi-commodity networks during her M.S. at the University of Oklahoma and graduate summa cum laude with a B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering. Throughout her academic career, Mackenzie has had internships with ABF Freight Inc. in Ft. Smith, AR and Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts in Orlando, FL.

Mackenzie’s research interests include measuring resilience of critical infrastructure systems, modeling interdependence between transportation systems and the economy, and decision analysis techniques for risk management strategies.