Alison Wood

Associate Professor of Sustainability


A photo of a woman leaning over a banister and smiling






  • Ph.D. Civil Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin
  • M.S. Environmental and Water Resources Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin
  • B.S. Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rutgers University
  • A.B. Dramatic Literature, Harvard University


  • Interdisciplinary thinking and approaches to sustainability challenges
  • Decision making in complex systems
  • Transformation of educational systems to be more sustainable, equitable, and just
  • Strategic visioning
  • Workshop development

Dr. Alison Wood is an Associate Professor of Sustainability at Olin College of Engineering. Her scholarly interests include interdisciplinary thinking and approaches to sustainability challenges, decision making in complex systems, and the transformation of educational systems to be more sustainable, equitable, and just.

In her current project, Constructive Dissent for Educational Change, Dr. Wood uses approaches inspired by theater and literature to help professionals in academia to envision more just, equitable, and beautiful futures and identify steps to enact them. This work builds on her creative and organizational leadership of the Dissent track of Olin’s Remaking Education workshop in 2018 and her broader experience designing and leading interdisciplinary workshops and learning experiences, as well as her contributions to Olin’s strategic planning process in 2022.

Dr. Wood is also an active member of the Engineering Change Lab USA, serving on the programming committee and the working group for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation. At Olin, she serves as the Director of Olin’s Grand Challenges Scholars Program and led the creation of the Sustainability concentration within the Engineering major. 

After graduating from Harvard University with a B.A. in Dramatic Literature, Dr. Wood worked professionally in theater and wrote and recorded two musical albums. She then returned to school to study engineering, earning a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Rutgers University. Dr. Wood then went on to earn a Master of Science in Engineering in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin, while working with the Austin chapter of Engineers Without Borders.

Her love of learning was first fostered by a unique elementary school education that was deeply interdisciplinary and steeped in arts of all forms, which has informed all her subsequent thinking about the potential for education to transcend conventional models.

Select Publications

Graeff, E., Wood, A. Undergraduate Engineering as Civic Professionalism. The Good Society: A Journal of Civic Studies. (2022).

Wood, A. Good Questions: Drawing on Theater to Educate Reflective Engineers as Civic Participants. In Kindelan, N. STEM, Theatre Arts, and Interdisciplinary Integrative Learning: Bridging the Cultures. Springer Nature. (2022).

Wood, A., Martello, R. Work in Progress: Liberal Arts Help Engineering Students “Change the World.” Proceedings from American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition. Montreal, Canada. (2020).

Wood, A. We Must Dissent. American Society for Engineering Education, PRISM: Last Word. (2020).

Wood, A. Engineering a Sustainable Future. EE Times. (2019).

Wood, A., Arslan, S., Barrett, J., Brownell, S., Herbert, A.M., Marshall, M., Oates, K., Spanagel, D., Winebrake, J., Zastavker, Y. Work in Progress: Transformation through Liberal Arts-Focused Grand Challenges Scholars Programs. Proceedings from American

Dusek, J., Faas, D., Ferrier, E., Goodner, R., Sarang-Sieminski, A., Waranyuwat, A., Wood, A. (2018). Active Inclusion of Neurodiverse Learning Styles in Project-Based Learning; A Call for Action. Proceedings from American Society of Engineering Education

Wood, A., Blackhurst, M., Lawler, D.F. (2017). Will U.S. Homeowners Adopt Eco-Toilets? Journal of Environmental Engineering.

Wood, A., Blackhurst, M., Garland, J., Lawler, D.F. (2016). Incentivizing Decentralized Sanitation: The Role of Discount Rates. Environmental Science and Technology. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b00385

Wood, A., Blackhurst, M., Hawkins, T., Xue, X., Ashbolt, N., & Garland, J. (2015). Cost-Effectiveness of Nitrogen Mitigation by Alternative Household Wastewater Management Technologies. Journal of Environmental Management, 150, 344-354. DOI: 10.1016/j.jen