Katherine Cushing

Katherine Kao Cushing

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Associate Professor

Ph.D., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University


Research Interests

Water Resource Management, Environmental Certification Systems, Environmental Policy Implementation in China, and Residential Street Livability.


Courses Taught

Introduction to Environmental Issues, Water Policy in the Western U.S, and Water Resource Management.



Katherine graduated from Stanford University in 1998 with a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering, with a specialty in Environmental Planning and Management. Her thesis research focused on identifying and analyzing the social, technical, and economic factors influencing wastewater treatment and cleaner production in Chinese pharmaceutical factories. She conducted extensive field research in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenyang. Dr. Cushing also has an M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford and a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and Science from Northwestern University.

Prior to joining the faculty, Katherine has worked in a variety of academic and professional positions. Most recently, she served as the Associate Director for the Program on Urban Studies at Stanford, where she taught and conducted research in environmentally sustainable cities, business and the environment, and qualitative research methods. She was also a Senior Research Associate at the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland where she conducted research on environmental certification systems and global water issues. As a private consultant, Katherine has conducted research for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the World Commission on Dams, and the City of Palo Alto.

Katherine's current research project involves developing and implementing a survey instrument that will assess the residential street livability of Palo Alto. Data from this project will be correlated with traffic-related variables, such as traffic volume and street speed, to determine threshold levels of acceptable traffic volume for different types of city streets. She is also analyzing data from a research project that she conducted with a group of undergraduate and graduate students. This project involved evaluating the social and environmental performance of four prominent Silicon Valley computer companies. Finally, Katherine is writing a research paper on the applicability of Environmental Management Systems, such as ISO 14001, to the Chinese marketplace.