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Meet the Team

Judy Ledlee, Ph.D. – Executive Director

Judy Ledlee's Headshot

Judy Ledlee, Ph.D. is the Executive Director Design Climate and is passionate about cleantech innovation and commercialization. Judy developed her passion for cleantech innovation during her doctoral studies at Duke University where she researched emerging water treatment technologies. From her work, she co-founded a startup for hydraulic fracturing water recycling. While this venture ultimately stalled, this experience taught her about the technology commercialization process and gave her “the bug” for technology commercialization. She continued her cleantech career in the water industry working for Evoqua (now Dupont and Xylem), Black & Veatch, and ZwitterCo. Throughout her career, she’s continued working on entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial activities and is excited to return to Duke and pass on the entrepreneurial bug to new generations of students.  

When Judy’s not working on Design Climate, she can be found playing or organizing ultimate frisbee (she’s a co-founder and former player of the Raleigh Radiance, a professional ultimate team for women and gender non-binary players) and working on her pickleball game. 

Kathleen (Kat) Horvath, Ph.D. – Program Manager

Headshot of Kat Horvath

Kathleen (Kat) Horvath, Ph.D. joins Design Climate as our Program Manager and brings an innovative, interdisciplinary approach to tackling climate challenges. Kat strives to bridge academia, entrepreneurship, and environmentalism by developing triple bottom line solutions that benefit people and the planet, while still generating a profit. This mindset has evolved from her experiences in political/environmental organizing, semiconductor manufacturing work, and academic research turned start-up. Kat earned her Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University where she researched and developed a portable mass spectrometer for environmental applications. Also, while at Duke, Kat received a certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), participated in Duke New Ventures (DNV) as a founder, and was active in student government and club initiatives that targeted improved campus community and sustainability. Kat has spent the past year as the Nicholas School’s Business & Environment Fellow, working closely with masters of environmental management students, sourcing client-based projects, and engaging with Duke researchers to assess the commercial viability of their research. Kat believes the Design Climate program will equip students with the ability to embrace uncertainty, pose challenging questions, actively listen for thoughtful responses, and innovate remarkable solutions – essential traits for leaders possess to drive positive change at the intersection of science, innovation, and sustainability.

Outside of Duke, you might find Kat working in her garden, practicing volleyball or yoga, relaxing at the beach, or cheering on the Steelers or Duke Athletics.

Alexis Carpenter, Ph.D. – Instructor

Alexis Carpenter's headshot

Alexis Carpenter, Ph.D. joins the Design Climate program as an Instructor. By day, Alexis is the Chief Innovation Officer at AxNano, a cleantech venture studio that develops and scales innovative solutions to restore clean water. Dr. Carpenter has overseen the transition of AxNano’s first commercial products: RemRx® – specialty chemicals for groundwater remediation. She is leading AxNano’s expansion into PFAS treatment technologies. Since joining AxNano as the first full-time employee in 2015, Alexis has secured >$6M in nondilutive R&D contracts to support technical derisking of the AxNano technology portfolio. She has also led the expansion of the AxNano team, with a particular interest in supporting underrepresented individuals in the technology/environment/entrepreneurship space. Dr. Carpenter has a B.S. in Chemistry from Virginia Tech, Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from UNC-Chapel Hill, and completed a PostDoc in Environmental Engineering at Duke University. AxNano utilizes a design thinking approach for technology commercialization, conducting parallel testing of technical hypotheses and business assumptions that are essential to bring high impact solutions to market.

Dr. Carpenter also co-teaches a New Ventures: Climate course in Duke University’s Fuqua Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center.