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ASCEND Researchers

ASCEND brings together experts from biological sciences, chemistry, earth and environmental sciences, mathematics, sociology, and political science to form a resource and build tools for transdisciplinary immersion research and community-sourced solutions. This Initiative is aimed at collaborating with local communities, providing learning opportunities, and fostering student research immersion to advance actionable solutions and affect positive ecological change under climate change pressure.

Faculty & Staff

Brooke Ackerly

Professor of Political Science

Professor of Human and Organizational Development

Professor of Law

Professor of Philosophy

Vanessa Allwardt

Project Manager (PMP, CSM), ASCEND Initiative and Center for Innovative Technology

John Ayers

Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Seth Bordenstein

Centennial Endowed Professor in Biological Sciences

Professor, Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology

Director, Vanderbilt Microbiome Initiative

Associate Director, Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology, and Inflammation


Stacy Curry-Johnson

Librarian for Geospatial Data and Systems

Digital Scholarship and Communication

Jonathan Gilligan

Associate Professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences

Associate Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Associate Director for Research, Vanderbilt Climate Change Research Network

Jesus Gomez-Velez

Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Steven Goodbred

Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Chair, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences


David Hess

Professor of Sociology

James Thornton Fant Chair in Sustainability Studies

Associate Director, Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment

Director, Program on Environmental and Sustainability Studies

Maria Luisa Jorge

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

John McLean

Stevenson Professor of Chemistry

Chair, Department of Chemistry

Director, Center for Innovative Technology

Antonis Rokas

Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair in Biological Sciences

Professor of Biological Sciences

Professor of Biomedical Informatics


Stacy Sherrod

Research Assistant Professor in Chemistry

Executive Director, Center for Innovative Technology

Assistant Scientific Director, The SyBBURE Searle Undergraduate Research Program

Steven Townsend

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Zdravka Tzankova

Associate Professor of Sociology

Glenn Webb

Professor of Mathematics


Chris Vanags

Director of Research Initiatives, Peabody College of Education, Office of the Dean

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences


Undergraduate Researchers


Makenzie Baker

Class of 2023

Iman Byndloss ASCEND

Iman Byndloss

Class of 2023

Micayla Cochran ASCEND

Micayla Cochran

Class of 2022

Claire Doshier

Class of 2023


Natalie Elliott ASCEND

Natalie Elliott

Class of 2022

Campbell Flower

Class of 2022

Owen Lamson ASCEND

Owen Lamson

Class of 2022

Truman McDaniel

Class of 2023


Brianna Moyers

Class of 2023

Henry Pliske ASCEND

Henry Pliske

Class of 2023

Lauren Rhodes

Class of 2023

Sydney Rosen

Class of 2023


Summer Rucker

Class of 2023

Defne Salli

Class of 2023

Jazlyn Selvasingh

Class of 2023

Estelle Shaya

Class of 2023


Victoria Vuong

Class of 2023

Teresa Xu

Class of 2023

Veronica Zancho

Class of 2023

Allen Zeng

Class of 2023