Ash Gillis

Ash Gillis

Postdoctoral Scholar, Social Psychology
Climate Change Research Network
Law School

Research Interests/Areas of Expertise

Environmental psychology, climate change communications, program evaluation, experimental design, and quantitative methods



Ash Gillis (they/them) is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow researching psychological impacts and political depolarization of climate change as part of the Vanderbilt Climate Change Prediction Market and Climate Change Research Network at Vanderbilt. Their expertise in environmental psychology informs their approach to understanding and leveraging individuals’ motivations to support climate change mitigation. Ash’s work also focuses on identifying and tempering unintended backfiring effects of climate change communication strategies.

Awards & Accomplishments

As a Co-Investigator with their colleagues at the University of Michigan and Indiana University - Bloomington, Ash was awarded a $136,427 research grant from the University of Michigan Graham Sustainability Institute to study the promise and risk of framing climate change as a migration issue.

During their Ph.D., Ash received a five-year research fellowship in environmental psychology from the non-profit botanical garden Mt. Cuba Center. Ash was also the recipient of an award for outstanding graduate students, multiple small graduate research grants, and a stipend provided to extraordinary local musicians pursuing advanced education.


Ash has provided consult to government organizations such as the U.S. Geological Survey and Bureau of Land Management in addition to non-profit organizations working to encourage environmentally sustainable actions in the general public.


As part of their applied research, Ash developed an effective community-based program to encourage residential neighborhoods to adopt sustainable landscaping practices, resulting in an increase in communities' native plant usage, positive attitudes, and psychologically meaningful experiences. This work also aided botanical gardens in their messaging strategies, research and development, educational programming, and member services. Ash's work has been covered in several media outlets including The Washington Post, VICE News, and Vox, and was also mentioned on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.


Ash is currently co-chair of the Sustainability Psychology preconference at the annual meeting for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Ash has co-chaired multiple other conference symposia on topics related to environmental justice and the intersection of social dominance and climate change.

Ash served as President, Executive Board Member, and Representative in multiple graduate student organizations. As an LGBTQ+ advocate, Ash has held leadership roles in several LGBTQ+ academic organizations and committees, including an advisory board to the President of Penn State University.


Ash has published in a number of high-impact interdisciplinary academic journals including Nature Climate Change, Global Environmental Change, and Energy Research and Social Science. Their published works have covered a wide range of topics such as private sector approaches to climate change, perceptions of pro-environmental behavior, the role of attitudes and social norms in landscaping choices, and the intersection of environmentalism and masculinity.

On A Personal Note...

Ash enjoys hiking, playing classical piano, jamming on guitar, and woodworking. They're always on the lookout for exceptional vegetarian food.


Ph.D., Psychology, Penn State University, 2021

M.S., Psychology, University of North Florida, 2016

B.A., Psychology, University of South Florida, 2014