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Vanderbilt has a campus broadcast facility with a dedicated fiber optic line for live TV interviews and a radio ISDN line. The News Service number ((615) 322-2706) has 24/7 on call information. Visit our website to view this information online and to view other experts-at-a-glance. Visit our news website where you can also access our online searchable database of experts. (Last updated May 2010)
Mark Abkowitz, professor of civil and environmental engineering
Abkowitz’s recent book analyzes what went wrong during major natural disasters, man-made accidents and terrorist attacks, including Sept. 11, Hurricane Katrina, the London transit bombings and the Sumatra Tsunami, to name a few. He can discuss the BP oil spill disaster and how this disaster is just another reminder of what we already know: Preparing for disasters is not a priority with companies, cities, and states, and it clearly should be.The book is called Operational Risk Management-A Case Study Approach to Effective Planning and Response. Abkowitz has been involved in assessing and managing the risks associated with both natural and man-made disasters for decades. He has provided support to government agencies, chemical companies and transporters in preventing and mitigating catastrophic events. He has a specific interest in hazardous materials transportation safety & security. He currently serves on the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, appointed to that group by President George W. Bush in 2002. He has written more than 80 journal articles and study reports.
Michael Vandenbergh, professor of law; Co-Director of Regulatory Program; Co-Director of Climate Change Research Network; former chief of staff of the Environmental Protection Agency
Vandenbergh is a leading scholar in environmental law whose research explores the relationship between formal legal regulation and informal social regulation of individual and corporate environmental behavior. His work with Vanderbilt’s Climate Change Research Network involves interdisciplinary teams that focus on the reduction of carbon emissions from the individual and household sector. His corporate work explores the influence of social norms on firms’ behavior and the ways in which private contracting can enhance or undermine public governance. Before joining Vanderbilt’s law faculty, Vandenbergh was one of the nation’s foremost environmental lawyers. He served as Chief of Staff of the Environmental Protection Agency from 1993-95.
David Kosson, professor and chair of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Kosson is a national authority on the management of highly hazardous materials in a safe and environmental responsible manner. These include chemical weapons, nuclear waste and by-products of manufacturing and energy production. He played a major role in the successful program to destroy the nation’s aging stockpile of binary nerve gas (GB and VX) agents. For more than 15 years, he has been involved in analyzing the risks involved in the disposition of military nuclear wastes. He leads a $32 million multidisciplinary Department of Energy program that works with stakeholders to design cost-effective and politically acceptable plans for cleaning up the nation’s nuclear weapons sites. Most recently he and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Charles Powers have devised and are championing a plan that they argue can revive the stalled effort to properly dispose of the growing amounts of radioactive waste produced by the nation’s commercial nuclear reactors.
Jonathan Gilligan, associate professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences
As associate director for research of the Vanderbilt Climate Change Research Network, Gilligan looks at people’s behavior in mitigating climate change; interactions between science and religion regarding environmental issues; and the use of rhetoric at the intersection of science and public policy. All three of these research interests relate to the question of how society can and should manage environmental hazards within the context of democratic governance and significant scientific uncertainty.