Thomas W. Sanchez, Ph.D.

Tom Sanchez ( earned his PhD in City Planning from Georgia Tech and has since taught at Iowa State University, Portland State University, and the University of Utah. He is currently Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Virginia Tech in the National Capital Region (Washingon, DC/Northern Virginia).

He conducts research in the areas of transportation, social justice, technology, and scholarly impact.  His book, Planning Knowledge and Research, published by Routledge in 2018 is an edited volume that includes chapters contributed by international planning academics who consider planning scholarship both historically and critically. The focus on planning research also relates to his work tracking citation activity and the topics of planning research. He blogs about this on his website at and provides other analyses of planning faculty publication activities at

His other books include Networks in the Knowledge Economy (2021, Emerald Publishing) with Denise Bedford was published in 2021, Planning as if People Matter: Governing for Social Equity (2012, Island Press) with Marc Brenman and The Right to Transportation: Moving to Equity (2007, Routledge), also with Marc Brenman. In 2007 he co-authored, The Social Impacts of Urban Containment with Chris Nelson and Casey Dawkins.


Kris Wernstedt, Ph.D.

Kris Wernstedt ( is a professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech’s campus in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.  He has worked for more than two decades in western, developing, and transitioning countries on a variety of policy and planning topics related to natural resources and environmental quality and protection.  This work has emphasized access to urban environmental services, decision-making under uncertainty, climate variability and change, the impact of COVID on risk perceptions, natural hazards, and the revitalization of distressed urban land.  Currently, he is examining the use of smartphone and other digital technologies in a digital information system to match long-distance hikers’ needs with conservation objectives in protected areas.  Kris served as a US Fulbright Scholar in the Institute of Human Settlements Studies at Ardhi University, Tanzania from 2016-2017 and as an Ardhi Visiting Professor from 2016-2018.  Prior to coming to Virginia Tech in 2006, he spent sixteen years at Resources for the Future, a Washington DC non-governmental organization that conducts policy analysis on natural resources and the environment.  He earned a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University and an MS in Water Resources Management from the University of Wisconsin.  Further information appears at

Trey Gordner

Trey Gordner is a graduate student and researcher in urban and regional planning at Virginia Tech studying remotely from Ewa Beach, Hawaii. Trey supports an NSF-funded project led by Dr. Tom Sanchez on the potential for artificial intelligence in urban planning. His independent research is on measuring, analyzing, and mapping zoning and land use regulations. Prior to graduate school, Trey founded a local government technology company and led the development of multiple software products in the government, education, nonprofit, and advertising industries. He also served on the Board of Directors for FairVote Virginia, an advocacy group for electoral reform, when it led grassroots support for two historic bills passed in 2020, VA HB506 and HB1103. In Hawaii, Trey has drafted bills for state legislators concerning housing and zoning, contributed to an AI chatbot for a state agency, and assisted local nonprofits with GIS and data analysis. He is a finalist for 2 technology fellowships with the U.S. government and is currently organizing a coalition to build the Hawaii Zoning Atlas based on DesegregateCT’s successful data advocacy model for land use and zoning reform.