Technology continuously evolves to become more complex. This increase in complexity is not without environmental, economic, and societal impacts. This has been particularly true for consumer products, in that what was once only dreamt of is now reality. Tools such as life-cycle assessment and agent-based modeling allow for the quantification of these impacts, and generate an understanding of potential unintended consequences. This will be explored looking at products such as energy-efficient lighting, nanoenabled textiles, and single-serve coffee pods.
Andrea Hicks specializes in using life cycle assessments and modeling to quantify environmental impacts of products and processes. Her work includes industrial ecology, or using basic ecological principles to better understand and design human products. For example, Hicks is thinking about ways to design a product where the waste could become the building blocks for another product or service. Her interests include agent-based modeling, the rebound effect, and environmental implications of technology.