<br>Gralla Laboratory



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Erica L. Gralla

Assistant Professor

Department of Engineering Management & Systems Engineering
and Institute for Crisis, Disaster, and Risk Management
The George Washington University

Research Affiliate, Humanitarian Response Lab
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ph.D., S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
B.S.E., Princeton University

email: egralla@gwu.edu
phone: +1 202 994 3330

Erica L. Gralla is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at the George Washington University. She completed her Ph.D. degree in the Engineering Systems Division at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Gralla studies decision-making in real-world contexts. Her research seeks to combine the strengths of human intuition and mathematical models to create better decision-making approaches. Her core areas are human decision-making and context-relevant modeling in disaster response operations and in systems engineering and design. Her research interests include:
  • Humanitarian logistics & emergency response
  • Systems engineering and design of complex systems
  • Supply chain management
  • Behavioral operations management
  • Human decision-making and sensemaking
(for more details, see research)

Ph.D. Students

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Brandon Greenberg

Brandon Greenberg is a Ph.D. student focusing on the intersection between technology and disaster management, specifically how technology is transforming the way disasters are managed.  He is combining his academic pursuits with his 10+ years of emergency response and management experience to improve resilience for both organizations and communities.  

Brandon received a Master of Public Administration degree from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service and holds a Graduate Certificate in Community Preparedness and Disaster Management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He completed his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at the University of Denver. 

You can find out more about Brandon on his website, DisasterNet.co, where he blogs regularly about resilience, innovation and technology.   
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Lauren Bateman
Lauren Bateman is a Ph.D. student in Engineering Management and Systems Engineering. Her research interests include information management in international humanitarian response and humanitarian coordination. Lauren has 10+ years of experience working in disaster and humanitarian response, focusing on public health, monitoring and evaluation, and information management.

Lauren received an MPH from the University of Virginia and a BA in International Development Studies from McGill University.
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Megan Peters

Megan is a research master’s student in the Engineering Management & Systems Engineering program at The George Washington University. Her research interests include application of her background in logistics, project management and decision support in the humanitarian aid system.

Megan earned her degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Arkansas, where she conducted research in water resource management in developing regions and best practices for management of projects to increase constituent access to clean water. She practiced this research in Belize and Mozambique. She gained experience in water resource management in the U.S. through internship in environmental consulting.

Megan worked as a transportation logistics engineer prior to joining the program. She acted as an internal consultant for business process re-engineering and problem solving, managed decision support tools and provided environmental sustainability expertise. Megan is passionate about engineering solutions to increase quality of life for people.
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Nikolai Joseph

Nikolai (Nik) is a Ph.D. student in GW's Systems Engineering Department. Nik's research interests focus on space technology development, international space cooperation, and concurrent engineering. He works with Professor Gralla and Professor Szajnfarber, focusing on using NASA's concurrent design teams to develop ways to measure "fit" between technical and organizational architectures and understand the implications of varying fit. Nik studied at GW's Space Policy Institute and holds a M.A. in International Science and Technology Policy from the Elliott School of International Affairs, and a B.S. in Applied Mathematics from the University of New Mexico. His master's thesis focused on space technology roadmapping and strategy formulation. Outside of academia, Nik works as a Technology Analyst for Bryce Space and Technology, where he focuses on early-stage technology development and strategy integration within NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). In this capacity, he provides decision support and assessments of early-stage technology, including development of evaluation tools and reviews. Additionally, Nik provides input and perspective to the technology working group of the International Space Exploration Coordination Group. Prior to working at Bryce, Nik interned with NASA's Office on Interagency and International Relations, and held positions in the field of biophysics, economic development, and health and social policy.

M.S. Students

Undergraduate Students

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Kai Friesecke
Kai Friesecke graduated from GW in 2018 with a B.S. in Systems Engineering and minors in Statistics and Computer Science. During his time at GW he competed as part of the University's sailing team, becoming a two time All-American. He is currently working with Prof. Gralla on developing a discrete event simulation model to evaluate cervical cancer screening strategies in Peru. He also worked with Professor Gralla on a scheduling tool for FEMA's National Response Coordination Center.
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Victoria Nilsen
Victoria (Vicky) is an undergraduate student in the George Washington University's Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering. She is majoring in Systems Engineering with a concentration in Business and minoring in Mathematics. She has been a member of the International Council of Systems Engineering (INCOSE) since August 2017 and a cheerleader on the GW Cheer Team since September 2016. Victoria is currently doing research for GW's Systems Engineering Department on communication patterns in design teams at NASA's concurrent design facilities. In the summer of 2018, Victoria traveled to California and Maryland to observe concurrent design studies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) and Goddard Space Flight Center. She is currently analyzing the data from these facilities to see if there are archetypes of communicators that are present in the design process. She expects to graduate in Spring 2020.
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Sophie Steinberg
Sophie is an undergraduate researcher from Los Angeles, California. She attends the School of Science and Engineering at the George Washington University. She majors in systems engineering and minors in economics with a concentration in business. She worked for three summers at a 3D printing automobile company, designing test instruments with CAD software, running tests and analysis, and presenting findings. Sophie joined the market system facilitation research team in the Gralla laboratory in the spring of 2018. She spent the subsequent summer in Uganda collecting information about the financial systems in place.
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Anya Welch
Anya is an undergraduate majoring in Systems Engineering with a minor in business administration. She works with Professor Gralla on improving cervical cancer screening processes in Peru. She expects to graduate in Spring 2019.


Ph.D. alumni
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Azrah Azhar Anparasan

Azrah Anparasan is a Ph.D. student at the department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at the George Washington University. She is currently working on modeling humanitarian transportation planning during disasters. Azrah earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka in Production Engineering and master’s degree from the University of Tokyo, Japan specializing in international technology management. She spent her summer of 2012 attached to the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, UK as an Oxford Santander Scholar. Azrah also has experience in working as a project researcher for the United Nations University (UNU) headquarters, Japan and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Sri Lanka.
M.S. alumni
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Madison Renker
Madison earned her M.S. in Systems Engineering with a concentration in Operations Research and also earned her undergraduate degree in Systems Engineering at GW. She worked with Professor Gralla on the USAID Market System Monitoring activity, measuring systemic change in agriculture in Kampala, Uganda. She was also a Graduate Teaching Assistant, and as an undergraduate student, she was a member of the George Washington University Varsity Swim Team, the co-Founder of a professional development organization, Women in STEM, and an academic support tutor.
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Julia Moline
Julia Moline completed her masters degree in MIT’s Technology and Policy Program. Her research focuses on resource allocation decision making in emergency response, examining the ways quantitative data can be used to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness in post-disaster operations. Julia received a BS in Civil Engineering and a BA in Economics from Columbia University and is a licensed Professional Engineer. Prior to MIT, she worked for Dewberry in natural hazard mitigation and building resilience. She spent the summer of 2013 working for FEMA, developing and evaluating electronic tools to facilitate efficient service delivery to those impacted by disasters. After graduation, she joined the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
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Phillip Graeter
Phillip completed his masters degree in the GW Engineering Management department in Environmental and Energy Management. He holds a bachelor's degree from the George Washington University in Systems Engineering with minors in mathematics and statistic.  His research was on humanitarian logistics and emergency response. After graduation, he joined an energy consulting firm.
B.S. alumni
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Connor Forsythe
Connor earned his bachelors degree in Systems Engineering in 2018. He worked with Professor Gralla and Professor Szajnfarber, observing NASA's concurrent design teams and visualizing and analyzing their communication patterns. After GW, he attended graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University's mechanical engineering program.
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Jillian Miles
Jillian earned her bachelors degree in Systems Engineering with minors in Psychology and Computer Science. During her sophomore year, she studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, and she hopes to pursue a career in systems engineering related to international development. She worked with Professor Gralla on the USAID Market System Monitoring activity, measuring systemic change in agriculture in Kampala, Uganda.
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Paule Voevodsky
Paule was an undergraduate student at GWU majoring in Systems Engineering and minoring in Spanish. She studied abroad in Seville, Spain during her junior year and hopes to use her Spanish skills on cross-functional projects around the world, particularly in environmental and humanitarian efforts which are of great interest to her. She worked with Professor Gralla on the project "Developing a Capabilities-Based Framework for Designing and Evaluating Oil Spill Response Exercises."
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Liam Cusack
Liam completed his bachelors degree in the GW School of Engineering and Applied Science in the area of Systems Engineering. His research was on the optimization of humanitarian logistics and emergency response with a focus on the discovery of patterns that can be applied to operational planning. After graduation, he joined The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
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Yijing "Fiona" Zhou
Fiona completed her masters degree in the Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at the George Washington University. She holds a bachelor's degree from the George Washington University in Computer Science.