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Student Spotlight

Ivey Li

Li photo

Arts & Science/Peabody Senior

Ivey Li is double majoring in Environmental Sociology and Human & Organizational Development. She's a senior from the Georgia and South Carolina area, and she assists Professor David Hess in his environmental justice research. Ivey investigates numerous cases of injustice to assemble and produce a detailed write-up that will function as case studies for analysis in Professor Hess' research. She has been writing cases since her sophomore year; her cases have taken her from powerlines to fracking to coal extraction and mountaintop removal. As for her capstone project, she spent a semester researching and writing about one of her passions: aquaponics. "The cycle of nutrients between fish and plants is so cool and low waste; it was awesome to discover how various types of organizations are using aquaponics to achieve their social/economic/sustainability goals." Ivey hopes to get involved in a multitude of fields in the future so that she can experience working with all of her interests, such as in nonprofits, college admissions, environmental advocacy groups, and more.

Kayla Vine


Peabody Junior

Kayla Vine is double majoring in Human & Organizational Development and Medicine, Health & Society and minoring in business. She is a junior from the Chicago area, and she assists Professor David Hess in his sustainable food research. Kayla currently researches how U.S. city governments are including food in their equitable sustainability and climate action plans. Specifically, she investigates food systems and their effect on the land and the people that are affected by them. In the spring of 2020, her capstone project investigated how the world's Blue Zones, or longest living places, can serve as models for designing health interventions in solving today's obesity and chronic disease epidemic. Through this semester of research and writing, she learned the power of environmental cues in determining our health habits. She is passionate about health and wellness and holds a health coach certificate from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. In the future, Kayla hopes to blend her wellness and business interests to help corporate organizations become healthier and more sustainable.

Margaret Dorhout

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Arts & Science Senior

Margaret Dorhout is a senior majoring in Earth and Environmental Science. She has been working as a Research Assistant for Assoc Prof Jonathan Gilligan studying trends in extreme weather in Bangladesh. Dr. Gilligan was a co-PI in a major Office of Naval Research-funded project studying social and environmental change in Bangldesh. Margaret is working on analyzing weather records from Bangladesh to study trends in extreme weather. Margaret's work began by examining 57 years of weather records from 35 weather stations in Bangladesh to perform quality control checks and correct errors in data entry. Margaret then worked with graduate student Kelsea Best to analyze patterns in extreme heat and precipitation. “There is a lot of coding!” Margaret says about her research experience. “Bangladesh can be a hard place to model because it is hard to draw a baseline. Not only is there extreme weather, but sometimes there is war or other factors that are hard to duplicate.” “Margaret's analysis is an important contribution to a project, funded by the National Science Foundation, which is studying how environmental change affects population movement in Bangladesh,” says Gilligan. “Margaret's participation in this research project has benefited the research by improving the quality of our data and our understanding of extreme weather in Bangladesh and it has given her the opportunity to learn new skills in data analysis and to experience what scientific research is like. Margaret's work on this project will form the basis of a senior honors thesis next year.” Undergraduate research has taught Margaret how to collect data for research and perform quality control and quality assurance to make sure the data is reliable. Margaret is planning to use her research experience as the basis for a senior honors thesis this year.

Joshua Doh


Arts & Science Junior

Joshua Doh is a third-year student from Arlington Heights, IL studying environmental sociology and business. He is currently assisting on a research project with Professor Hess exploring how U.S cities can create policies at the intersection of social equity and energy transition goals.    For the project, Josh has been conducting individual case studies on Midwestern cities, where he is analyzing the cities’ sustainability plans.    He hopes to continue learning about the best policies in the space and possibly source ideas for the Vanderbilt Green Fund, a $150,000 annual fund that finances campus sustainability projects, which Josh will be leading starting Fall 2020.    Josh seeks to utilize his immersive educational experience at Vanderbilt University in order to pursue a career where he can invest in solutions for climate change and financial inclusivity, and one day be a leading voice in the policy discussion surrounding both issues.