Robin L. Dillon-Merrill

Principal Analyst

Dr. Dillon-Merrill specializes in decision and risk analysis. Her research seeks to understand and explain how and why people make the decisions that they do under conditions of uncertainty and risk. This research specifically examines critical decisions that people have made following near-miss events in situations with severe outcomes (i.e., hurricane evacuation, NASA mission management, etc.). Her past research in risk has included supporting the Department of Energy’s selection of a new tritium supply facility, aiding NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in decision making for the Mars Exploration Program, and developing a quantitative decision support tool for the management of software project resources based on an analysis of both the information system and the design. She has received research funding from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Department of Defense. She has served as a risk analysis and project management expert on several National Academies Committees including the Review of the New Orleans Regional Hurricane Protection Projects. She is an Associate Professor in the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University and teaches classes in decision modeling.


Ph.D., Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, Stanford University, 1999
B.S./M.S., Systems Engineering, University of Virginia, 1993

Selected Publications and Presentations

Catherine H. Tinsley, Robin L. Dillon, Matthew A. Cronin, “How Near-Miss Events Amplify or Attenuate Risky Decision Making”, Management Science, September 2012, Vol. 58, No. 9: 1596-1613.

Robin L. Dillon, Genevieve Lester, Richard S. John, and Catherine H. Tinsley, “Differentiating Conflicts in Beliefs vs. Value Trade-offs in the Domestic Intelligence Policy Debate,” Risk Analysis, Vol. 32, No. 4, April 2012: 713-728.

Catherine H. Tinsley, Robin L. Dillon, and Peter M. Madsen, “How to Avoid Catastrophe,” Harvard Business Review, April 2011, Reprint #IR1104G.

Robin L. Dillon, Catherine H. Tinsley, and Matthew A. Cronin, “Why Near-Miss Events Can Decrease an Individual’s Protective Response to Hurricanes,” Risk Analysis, Vol. 31, No. 3, March 2011: 440-449. .-Selected as one of the Best Papers for 2011.

Robin L. Dillon, Robert M. Liebe, and Thomas Bestafka, “Risk-Based Decision Making for Terrorism Applications,” Risk Analysis, Vol. 29, No. 3, March 2009: 321-335.

Robin L. Dillon and Catherine H. Tinsley, “How near-misses influence decision making under risk:  A missed opportunity for learning,” Management Science, August 2008: 1425-1440.

M. Elisabeth Paté-Cornell and Robin L. Dillon, “The Respective Roles of Risk and Decision Analyses in Decision Support,” Decision Analysis, Vol. 3, No. 4, December 2006: 1-13.

Robin L. Dillon, M. Elisabeth Paté-Cornell, and Seth D. Guikema, “Programmatic Risk Analysis for Critical Engineering Systems Under Tight Resource Constraints,” Operations Research, Vol. 51, No. 3, May/June 2003: 354-370.

Robin L. Dillon, Richard John, and Detlof von Winterfeldt, “Assessment of Cost Uncertainties for Large Technology Projects: A Methodology and an Application,” Interfaces, Vol. 32, No. 4, July-August, 2002: 52-66.

M. Elisabeth Paté-Cornell and Robin L. Dillon, “Probabilistic Risk Analysis for the NASA Space Shuttle: A Brief History and Current Work,” Reliability Engineering and System Safety, Vol. 74, No. 3, 2001: 345-352.