Lianne Lefsrud, PhD, PEng
Area of Study / Keywords
risk management risk communication technology adoption organizational theory sustainability climate change energy systems
Dr. Lianne Lefsrud is an Assistant Professor, Engineering Safety and Risk Management at the University of Alberta. She uses mixed methods to study how institutional and new venture entrepreneurs use persuasive language and imagery to shape our conceptions of technology, the environment, and regulations. Specifically, her research examines methods of hazard identification and risk management, risk evaluation and social license to operate, and drivers of technology adoption in oil and gas, mining, pipelining, construction, agriculture, and railroading, among other industries.
As most risks are multi-disciplinary in nature, it has also motivated her academic approach: from an MSc in Environmental Engineering and Sociology (the first Engineering-Arts interdisciplinary degree at UAlberta), to a PhD in Strategic Management and Organization, and now a tenure-track position back in Engineering. Given her multi-disciplinary research, Dr. Lefsrud works with scholars in engineering, computer science, cognitive psychology, business, economics, English literature and film studies, and environmental sociology.
Further, to understand various theoretical model elaboration/validation/ mobilization methods, Dr. Lefsrud moved from academia, to industry and regulation, and back to academia. Professionally, her career spans two decades with senior roles in industry, consulting, and regulation. Prior to returning to academia, she was the Assistant Director Professional Practice with APEGA, an Assistant Director in operations with Canadian National Railway, and worked in construction and oil and gas. Besides doing internationally award winning research, she also provides policy and strategy advice to government and industry. Even while not an academic, she remained instrumental in multi-disciplinary collaborations and publishing, to have the greatest possible impact on organizational and regulatory practices in Canada and worldwide.
Society is demanding ever more complex and integrated systems. Beyond technical design, as engineers, we also have a professional, ethical, and legal responsibility to ensure that the operations and maintenance of these systems includes risk management (broadly defined) that protects people and the environment. Since most losses have human (individual and organizational) failures as the latent cause, if we focus exclusively on technical design, we cannot foresee, know and understand, or prevent these failures. This motivates my multidisciplinary research: How can risk management systems be enhanced so that organizations are better equipped to recognize, adapt to and absorb unforeseen events and manage the resulting risks?
Keywords: risk management, risk acceptability / tolerability, decision-making for technological developments, computational methods