Student Spotlight

Each quarter, we feature one EISG student member and ask them about their research. If you or your student would like to be profiled, please contact Roshi Nateghi.


Domenico Crescenzo Amodeo pic

Name: Domenico Crescenzo Amodeo
School: The George Washington University
Department: Engineering Management and Systems Engineering
Advisor: Royce Francis, PhD

Briefly describe your research and the impact it may have
Like many within EISG I am interested in resilience of critical transportation infrastructure. While my work is still taking shape, we use methods that are both quantitative and qualitative. Currently we are developing a concept which we are coining Protocol Driven Resilience; an idea that resilience, as adaptive capacity, results from the nature of both formal and informal processes by which diverse decision makers interact to navigate the post-crisis decision space and implement control activities.

How did you become interested in infrastructure and risk analysis?
Prior to returning to school, I spent some time trying to start an export business focused on East Africa. During this period I attended a conference in Washington D.C. on Kenya, hosted by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA). At this conference I heard a speech by the Kenyan Minister of Transportation, and met individuals engaged in developing infrastructure throughout Africa. I was struck with the idea, that emerging economies in many ways have a blank slate, and can develop their infrastructure in a way which takes advantage of sciences and lessons learned previously unavailable to currently developed economies. This is what initially piqued my interest in the field.

How has SRA contributed to your growth as a researcher?
I only recently became involved with SRA at the most recent conference. The conference was extremely informative, and has alerted me additional regions of the literature that I needed to explore. Additionally, I walked away from the conference with an enhanced sense of the level of quality demanded from the field. One example that stands out in particular is the work presented by Ms. Gillespie-Marthaler from Vanderbilt University. I was impressed with the rigor with which she evaluated community resilience indicators using a database she compiled from over 500 articles, and developed web tool to bridge theory and practice.

Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years in the future?
I graduate, the plan is to return to my entrepreneurial passions. What form this will take is still uncertain, but ideally it will leverage my research skills and domain expertise. Infrastructure is considered central to economic advancement or sustainment. It would be exciting to apply the expertise which I am gaining now, to impact the strategic direction of national level infrastructure planning.

What is one topic in risk that you’re not working on, but wish you were?
China’s One Belt One Road initiative fascinates me. This initiative is a rich source for risk analysis. The scope and scale is so grand, and its intent so well telegraphed that it is the perfect opportunity for a longitudinal study, and perhaps a natural experiment in infrastructure risk analysis. The potential for this initiative to cause historic shifts in trade, and military power is fascinating is also important. America needs serious and early research efforts to understand the risk posed to U.S. hegemony by One Belt One Road, and it would be exciting to be a pioneer in such an effort.

When you’re not doing research, you are...
I read across a very broad list of topics. In May through November, I work a small plot on my grandparents’ farm. Each year I try to expand the size of the plot and variety of the produce. There are also the standard activities such as running and hiking when time permits.


Name: Jinzhu Yu
School: Vanderbilt University
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Advisor: Dr. Hiba Baroud

Briefly describe your research and its impact.
My research is focused on the quantification of community resilience using statistical methods. Due to the nature of extreme events, a big challenge in this problem is the lack of data. As such, my goal is to develop statistical learning tools that provide accurate predictions of parameters describing a community’s recovery trajectory in order to inform resource allocation before, during, and after a disaster. I have been working on a new class of models, hierarchical Bayesian kernel methods, and I am testing it on a case study assessing the recovery rate of communities from power outages. This work will ultimately help risk managers and disaster responders in identifying effective recovery strategies for communities that are bouncing back from disruptions.

How did you become interested in infrastructure and risk analysis?
I was first intrigued by this topic when I was taking a course in engineering risk analysis during my master’s studies. The important role that infrastructures play in our daily lives motivated me to do research that will help improve the management of these critical systems. Extreme events add another layer of complexity in managing the risk and resilience of infrastructure systems, thus impacting how people recover after disasters. Being able to contribute to the research fields of infrastructure and risk analysis while benefitting the society was very appealing to me.

How has SRA contributed to your growth as a researcher?
I am a new member of SRA, and the society has already contributed greatly in keeping me updated with state of the art research advances in risk analysis and resilience modeling through the journal.

Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years in the future?
Ideally, I would be a faculty member working with students and colleagues to advance the fields of risk and resilience analysis while contributing to improving the way we recover from disasters.

What is one topic in risk that you’re not working on, but wish you were?
One area that interests me a lot is the application of data-driven risk analysis to help people improve their decision making in general. Through this work, I could be beneficial to a wider range of decision makers.

When you’re not doing research, you are...
You would probably find me spending time with my friends, exercising (running and weight-lifting), or exploring parks around Nashville.


Nazanin Morshedlou

Name: Nazanin Morshedlou
School: University of Oklahoma
Department: Industrial and Systems Engineering
Advisor: Dr. Kash Barker

Briefly describe your research and its impact.
I am a fourth-year Ph.D. student working as a graduate research assistant in the Risk-Based System Analytics Laboratory. The focus of my research is developing a planning methodology to enhance adaptive and restorative capacities in infrastructure networks after a disruptive event. So far, my work has resulted in (i) an optimization formulation for network fortification in the short term after a disruption, (ii) an optimization formulation for network restoration in the longer term, (iii) a means to account for work crew and resource routing during the recovery process, and (iv) tradeoffs between adaptive and restorative capacities in building resilience capacity. I am currently exploring solution approaches to these potentially large problems with the use of component importance measures to prioritize network components.

Recent natural disasters (e.g., Hurricane Sandy (2012) and Hurricane Harvey (2017)) among other events, demonstrate how traditional approaches to the infrastructure network recovery have been challenged by nonroutine consequences of disruptive events. The elements of my work present effective ways of limiting the adverse impact of disruptive events. Enhancing adaptive capacity may reduce the occurrence of cascading failures in high voltage power grids or enabling emergency response and other service networks to traverse transportation networks in the short term. My work can be applied to a variety of network environments, from restoring physical infrastructure networks to engaging emergency responders in service networks to enabling influence during times of disruption in community networks.

How did you become interested in infrastructure and risk analysis?
I started my Ph.D. journey working with Dr. Kash Barker in the Risk-Based System Analytics Laboratory. As its name implies, the lab focuses on the theory, methodology, and application of risk-based decision making to systems engineering problems. Although my M.S. studies did not involve infrastructure network resilience, I was intrigued by the variety of problems this research area poses (e.g., social media, transportation networks, healthcare), as well as its social benefit.

How has SRA contributed to your growth as a researcher?
Though I’m new to SRA as a member, I have benefited greatly from numerous articles in SRA’s journal, Risk Analysis.

Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years in the future?
Upon graduation, I hope to join academia. As such, I hope to have established a lab that integrates computation and operations research to develop theory, methodology, and applications in resilience and reliability of cyber-physical-social networks. In 5 to 10 years, I hope to be making nationally and internationally recognized contributions in developing and applying risk analytics methods to studying the relationships between infrastructure and the community before, during, and after disruptions

What is one topic in risk that you’re not working on, but wish you were?
My work until now has focused on the “physical” aspects of “cyber-physical-social systems.” I would like to expand further into the “social” aspect of these systems and study more about community risk and resilience. I plan to incorporate some social vulnerability measures into my upcoming work.

When you’re not doing research, you are...
Mostly, I fill my free time by reading books from different cultures around the world, watching and participating in performing arts, and improving my French language skills.


Name: Heimir Thorisson
School: University of Virginia
Department: Systems & Information Engineering
Advisor: Prof. James H. Lambert

Briefly describe your research and the impact it may have.
I work in the broad field of risk analysis for infrastructure and transportation systems. Specifically, I am focusing on the resilience of engineering decisions to emergent and future conditions and how priorities of strategic plans can be affected. The aim is to enhance the ability of critical infrastructure such as highways, sea- and airports, electricity etc. to maintain functionality under stress from a variety of environmental, socio-economic, political, and security factors among others.

How did you become interested in infrastructure and risk analysis?
I was attracted by the belief that interdisciplinary approaches were needed to solve the some of the biggest issues the global population faces. Environmental issues such as air pollution are seldom confined to a specific location, populations travel and migrate more easily now than ever. Understanding the increased interconnectedness and interdependencies of infrastructure systems and potential disruptive effects is a key element to sustainable development of society.

How has SRA contributed to your growth as a researcher?
I have been fortunate enough so far to attend two annual meetings and one meeting of SRA-Europe during my graduate studies and hoping to attend more in the future. During conversations and participation in sessions, I have learned more about risk analysis than any book or course has taught me. The exposure to different methods and applications is invaluable in these early years of my career.

Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years in the future?
In recent years, several components of the infrastructure in my home country, Iceland, have been increasingly stressed by a tourism boom. Balancing the short-term needs and long-term needs of the industry and the whole society is a great challenge where I see opportunities (frankly, a dire need) for risk research in the next decade. This is a topic I would like to help addressing.

What is one topic in risk that you’re not working on, but wish you were?
Public health and safety. At the annual meeting I sometimes find myself attending those sessions rather than sessions much closer to my own work!

When you’re not doing research, you are...
Enjoying the rich cultural scene of Charlottesville and surroundings.


Tom Logan

Tom Logan
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Industrial and Operations Engineering
Advisor: Seth Guikema
Home country/state: New Zealand
Website: http://tomlogan.co.nz

Briefly describe your research and the impact it may have.
My research integrates statistics, operations, risk analysis, and urban planning. I apply mathematical modeling to improve our understanding and planning of cities facing an uncertain future. I aim for this to inform how we design cities with a reduced impact on the environment and decreased vulnerability to global change.

How did you become interested in infrastructure and risk analysis?
My underlying motivation is in addressing environmental change. Infrastructure is one of our societies main interfaces with the environment. Understanding the challenges and risks that our infrastructure faces is one of our ways we can adapt our urban systems to this change.

How has SRA contributed to your growth as a researcher?
SRA has encouraged me to remain interdisciplinary. The risk analysis researchers seem to thrive and excel in the current academic system while maintaining and celebrating their diverse research interests. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed the SRA annual meeting in 2016. I found the discussions and panels relatable and thought provoking and the presentations interesting. (Truth be told, I actually struggled to find time to explore San Diego because I enjoyed the conference so much!)

Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years in the future?
Continuing this line of research for environmental change adaptation and mitigation in some capacity, either academic or national lab.

What is one topic in risk that you’re not working on, but wish you were?
I find that communicating risk, especially addressing and visualizing uncertainty in spatial and/or temporal settings, is really interesting.

When you’re not doing research, you are...
Hiking or adventure racing!