Our team

One of the best parts of my life is getting to interact with such a hard-working, smart, and distinctive group. You can find out more about some of them by clicking on the pictures and links below.

Current research students

Five great students from my group earned their Ph.D.’s in 2016, which means I now have funded openings for Ph.D. students from all undergraduate and professional backgrounds who are interested in research in decision-making for sustainable and resilient infrastructure (e-mail me lk6me at virginia dot edu for more information).

Bethany Gordon, Ph.D., 2021?

Bethany Gordon, Ph.D., 2021?






Nicole Barclay Ph.D. 2016?

Nicole Barclay, Ph.D. 2016, UNCC faculty

Audra Kiesling, Ph.D. 2016, Alaska freelance

Diana Chen Ph.D. 2017?

Diana Chen, Ph.D. 2016, U. of San Diego faculty

Freddy Paige Ph.D. 2017

Freddy Paige, Ph.D. 2016, Virginia Tech research

Tina Nikou Ph.D. 2016?

Tina Nikou, Ph.D. 2016, Silicon Valley programming

Tripp Shealy Ph.D. 2015?

Tripp Shealy, Ph.D. 2015, Virginia Tech faculty

Allison Godwin, Ph.D. 2014?

Allison Godwin, Ph.D. 2014, Purdue U. faculty

Morgan Young Ph.D. 2014

D. Morgan Young, Ph.D. 2014, Black & Veatch

Elizabeth Osell, M.S. 2014, CDM Smith

Chris Almond, M.S. 2013, NAVFAC

Corey Cattano Ph.D. 2013?

Corey Cattano
Ph.D. 2013, NAVFAC

Jackie Blizzard Ph.D. 2013

Jackie Blizzard, Ph.D. 2013, Denver Schools

Jeff Plumblee Ph.D. 2013

Jeff Plumblee, Ph.D. 2013, Clemson U.

Kelly Sprague M.S. 2012

Kelly Kruzner, M.S. 2012, Family

Denise Simmons Ph.D. 2012

Denise Simmons, Ph.D. 2012, Virginia Tech faculty

Rodolfo Valdes-Vasquez Ph.D. 2011

Rodolfo Valdes-Vasquez, Ph.D. 2011, Colorado State faculty

Prashanth Palanasiam M.S. 2011

Prashanth Palanasiam, M.S. 2009, Goodearth Homes


Michael Dukes M.S. 2011

Michael Dukes, M.S. 2009, Infrastructure Engineers


Jennilee Harrison M.S. 2010

Jennilee Harrison, M.S. 2010, AKRF








I’m fortunate to be able to collaborate with researchers elsewhere who know way more than I do about lots of different things. Here is a partial list.

Ruth Greenspan Bell, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars 

Melissa Bilec, Sustainable and Green Design Group at the University of Pittsburgh

Zahra Hazari, Florida International University

Amy Javernick-Will, Construction Engineering and Management at the University of Colorado at Boulder

Eric Johnson, The Center for Decision Sciences at Columbia University

Jessica Kaminsky, Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington

Richard Klotz, Economics (Environmental) at Colgate University – also my brother

Annie Pearce, Sustainable Infrastructure and Facilities Lab at Virginia Tech

Geoff Potvin, Florida International University

David Riley, Center for Sustainability at Penn State

Elke Weber, Andlinger Center for Energy and Environment, Princeton University


My approach to research advising

I want to change the world; to help as many people as possible (now and in the future) enjoy life. I don’t know the best ways to do this, and don’t expect you to either, but I expect that we will try to figure it out together. I am generally interested in research topics where I can use my background in design and engineering of the built environment to advance understanding of sustainability topics which cross traditional boundaries between engineering and other disciplines.

I believe you have earned the Ph.D. when you: know how to do research, have made a significant contribution to knowledge, know more than anyone else (including me) in a specific area, and have found a next step you are excited about. Achieving those goals requires a basic level of intelligence and talent, which you likely have if you’re reading this. Much more importantly, achieving these goals requires hard work, passion, and persistence.

My hope for every advisee is that you earn the Ph.D. and enjoy a long career of creating and sharing knowledge. I will help by:

  • Providing a general structure for the research process without limiting your ideas and creativity;
  • Ensuring you are interested in your dissertation research;
  • Using positive reinforcement as my motivator of choice;
  • Facilitating peer interactions through my research group and professional networks;
  • Enabling research in off-campus settings (e.g., developing countries, industry, government); and
  • Encouraging you to devote time and thought to teaching, leadership, time management, and other skills vital to long-term career success.

I expect that you will:

  • Take ownership of your Ph.D. experience;
  • Take risks and make mistakes (err on the side of asking forgiveness rather than permission);
  • Share your ideas and borrow from others’ (err on the side of oversharing);
  • Continuously practice written (e.g., journal and conference papers) and verbal (e.g., presentations) academic communication, not just as part of your final dissertation.
  • Think beyond traditional academic communication channels to share your work with those who can benefit from it; and
  • Make me and my scholarship better by expanding my ideas, networks, and skills.

My advising approach evolves as I have the pleasure of working with more fantastic Ph.D. students. I appreciate that every student is different and will modify my approach where appropriate. Your suggested revisions to my approach are priceless. Many of your predecessors have shaped what you just read.