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Alison Wood, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering



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

Select Courses Taught

Environmental Analysis and Engineering
Sustainability Synthesis
Modeling and Simulation of the Physical World


Justice and equity
Complex systems
Sustainability, especially water and wastewater
Education, especially transdisciplinary integration


National Network for Environmental Management Studies Fellowship
Walter L. and Reta Mae Moore Graduate Fellowship in Civil Engineering
Trigg & Fannie E. Twichell Centennial Endowed Presidential Scholarship
Engineering Foundation Endowed Graduate Presidential Scholarship


Dr. Alison Wood is an assistant professor of Environmental Engineering at Olin College of Engineering. She is a distinguished researcher in the fields of both water and sanitation, as well as a researcher and practitioner in using interdisciplinary thinking and approaches to solving environmental and sustainability problems. Dr. Wood is also pursuing her interests in the areas of equity and justice through education and engagement with context and values. 
In addition to her teaching and advising duties at Olin, Dr. Wood serves as the Director of the Babson-Olin-Wellesley Three College Sustainability Certificate Program, the Director of Olin’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program, on the Catalyst Board of the open source journal Murmurations, as a member of Olin’s Sustainability Steering Committee, and as a member of Olin’s Context and Ethics in Engineering Education Working Group.
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. While completing her degree at Rutgers, she wrote and arranged the music and lyrics for a stage musical in collaboration with a Los Angeles based playwright. 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 as a volunteer and project lead for a project in Peru.
She has published and presented on incentivizing decentralized sanitation and wastewater treatment, on sustainability of coastal community water and sanitation service options, on automated data acquisition for integrating multiple datasets using GIS applications, as well as on integrating liberal arts and STEM education, currently through the vehicle of the Grand Challenges Scholars Program. She has co-designed workshops oriented toward educational change for Olin’s Summer Institute and the joint Olin College-Emerson College event: Remaking Education. 
Her love of learning was first fostered by an unusual elementary school education that was deeply interdisciplinary with a substantial arts curriculum, which has informed all her subsequent thinking about the potential for education to transcend conventional models. Her love of teaching has grown through fifteen years of private tutoring, three years of teaching summer drama classes to teenagers, her years as a teaching assistant at UT Austin, and now her teaching at Olin, which continues to inspire her to realize the potential for education in the twenty-first century.

Select Publications

Wood, Alison, Arslan, Selin, Barrett, Jason, Brownell, Sarah, Herbert, Andrew Mark, Marshall, Matthew, Morano, Heidi, Oates, Karen, Spanagel, David, Winebrake, James, Zastavker, Yevgeniya. (Accepted 2019). Work in Progress: Transformation through Liberal Arts-Focused Grand Challenges Scholars Programs. Proceedings from American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition. Tampa, FL.
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 Annual Conference and Exposition. Salt Lake City, UT.
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.jenvman.2014.10.002