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Julie Shortridge

Assistant Professor
  • Extension Specialist
  • Research areas: Water resources engineering and management; Climate change impacts and adaptation; Risk and decision analysis in water systems


Ph.D., Geography and Environmental Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, 2016

M.S.E., Geography and Environmental Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, 2012

B.S., Environmental Engineering Science, University of California – Berkeley, 2005


August 2016 - present – Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech                                             

October 2009 – September 2010 – Disaster preparedness consultant, United Nations Environment Program Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, Paris, France

May 2005 – September 2009 – Engineer and Project Manager, ARCADIS U.S., Inc., Walnut Creek, CA

Selected Major Awards

2015 – Supported participant, MIT Rising Stars workshop for early career female researchers in civil and environmental engineering

2015 – Semi-finalist,  Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences (INFORMS) 2015 Annual Meeting poster competition

2014 – Supported participant, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Advanced Study Program on Uncertainty in Climate Change Research

2014 – Supported participant, Young Researcher Workshop on the Future of Reliability and Risk Analysis, European Safety and Reliability Association

2014 – Student travel award, Universities Council on Water Resources Conference on Water Systems, Science, and Society Under Global Change

2013 – Student merit award finalist, Society for Risk Analysis, Engineering and Infrastructure Specialty Group

2013 – Fellowship, National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship

2013 – Honorable mention, National Science Foundation Graduate Student Fellowship

Courses Taught Last Five Years

EN 500.111 - Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Strategies, Johns Hopkins University

Other Teaching and Advising

In addition to planning and teaching a freshman seminar on climate change adaptation, I served as a teaching assistant and guest lecturer for classes on risk and decision analysis as well as uncertainty modeling and data analytics. I also trained graduate students at Debre Markos University (Ethiopia) in the use of climatic and agricultural field monitoring equipment as part of an NSF-funded project at Johns Hopkins University. 

Program Focus

Water resource systems are under continuing pressure from increasing demand, climatic change and variability, and land-use development. My research aims to improve our understanding and management of water resources through the use of systems engineering methodologies, such as risk analysis, data analytics, statistical modeling and optimization. My early work largely used machine learning methodologies to evaluate and model the relationships between physical and institutional infrastructure, climate conditions, and public health. Recognizing the risk that climate change poses to water availability, my recent work has focused on climate impacts and adaptation in the water resources sector, with a particular emphasis on uncertainty surrounding projections of future hydrologic change. I am especially interested in ways that model-based impact assessments can be combined with robust risk and decision frameworks to inform planning, while still acknowledging the inherent uncertainty in these assessments.

Because water issues are interdisciplinary in nature, I aim to look beyond physical infrastructure and better understand how it interacts with human decision making and non-engineered watershed characteristics to influence the benefits and vulnerability of coupled water resource systems. By working with colleagues in the physical sciences, economics, and engineering fields, I ultimately hope to support the development of water resource systems that are efficient, resilient, and sustainable. 

Current Projects

Comparison of risk and robustness-based approaches for climate change adaptation in water infrastructure systems

Machine learning methods for water resource assessment and simulation

Evaluation of climate change impacts and adaptation for water resource infrastructure in Lake Tana, Ethiopia

Program Focus

The goal of my extension program is to provide water users and managers in Virginia with the tools, technology, and guidance they need for efficient and sustainable use of the state’s water resources. While Virginia is a relatively water rich state, it faces a number of challenges which a focused extension and outreach program can help address. In the short-term, droughts present a risk of local and regional-level water shortages that can be particularly damaging to the state’s agricultural industry. While irrigation development can help address this risk, inefficient practices limit agricultural productivity and have negative impacts on field runoff and water quality. In the long-term, increasing demand in urban and suburban regions, combined with the highly uncertain impacts of climate change, has the potential to greatly stress water supplies and existing infrastructure. In response to these challenges, I am developing a two-pronged extension program that aims to 1) support agricultural producers in the identification, development and management of irrigation systems to better manage climate variability and 2) support water managers in assessing and addressing risks associated with increased water demand and climate change over the long term. By developing a coordinated program of research and extension focused on these two goals, I hope to provide actionable insights and guidance to make Virginia a leader in sustainable water management in humid climates.    

Selected Recent Publications

*indicates undergrad student, **indicates graduate student, ***indicates post-doc

Shortride, J.E., Guikema, S.D., and Zaitchik, B.F. (2016) Robust decision making in data scarce contexts: addressing data and model limitations for infrastructure planning under transient climate change. Climatic Change. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-016-1845-4.

Shortridge, J.E., Aven, T., and Guikema, S.D. (2016) Risk assessment under deep uncertainty: a methodological comparison. Reliability Engineering and System Safety. DOI: 10.1016/j.ress.2016.10.017.

Shortridge, J.E., Guikema, S.D, and Zaitchik, B.F. (2016) Machine learning methods for empirical streamflow simulation: a comparison of model accuracy, interpretability, and uncertainty in seasonal watersheds. Hydrology and Earth Systems Sciences 20, 2611-2628. DOI: 10.5194/hess-20-2611-2016.

Shortridge, J.E., and Guikema, S.D. (2016) Scenario discovery with multiple criteria: an evaluation of the robust decision making framework for climate change adaptation. Risk Analysis. Early view published online in February 2016. DOI: 10.1111/risa.12582

Shortridge, J.E., Guikema, S.D., and Zaitchik, B.F. (2015) Identifying and addressing infrastructure vulnerabilities under climate change in data-scarce regions: the role of conservation. Abstract H32F-05 presented at 2015 AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, Calif., 12-16 Dec.

Shortridge, J.E., Aven, T., and Guikema, S.D. (2015) Risk assessment under deep uncertainty: a methodological comparison. Safety and Reliability of Complex Engineered Systems: Proceedings of ESREL 2015, ed. L. Podofillini et al. CRC Press. Zurich, Switzerland.

Shortridge, J.E., Falconi, S.M., Zaitchik, B.F., and Guikema, S.D. (2015). Statistical prediction of undernourishment using non-linear regression and data mining techniques. Journal of Applied Statistics. 42(11), 2367-2390. 

Shortridge, J.E., and Guikema, S. D. (2014). Public health and pipe breaks in water distribution systems: analysis with internet search volume as a proxy. Water Research. 53(15), 26-34.