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Ph.D. in Environmental Planning and Design, Virginia Tech

Dr. Maria Saxton recently received her Ph.D. in Environmental Design & Planning with a concentration on Bio-Inspired Buildings from Virginia Tech. Her doctoral research involved measuring the ecological footprints of tiny home downsizers. She was also part of the Sustainable Facilities and Infrastructure Lab, and was advised by Dr. Annie Pearce.

Maria has extensive experience in the growing tiny home research field. In addition to her doctoral research, she has conducted tiny home community feasibility studies and has worked on developing a cost-estimating tool to implement tiny home communities in her home state of Virginia. Her driving interests in the tiny home field include community development, sustainable designs, and solutions for affordable housing.

Currently, Maria is working on developing her startup, NANO – Tiny Life Innovators, to help drive innovation and expand knowledge in the tiny home industry. She is passionate about fostering research efforts in the tiny home field and is creating a resource to help facilitate resource sharing and collaboration between thought leaders in the tiny home industry-- including researchers, policy advocates, builders, tiny home dwellers, and enthusiasts. By surveying the tiny home population, this resource will also provide researchers and policy advocates with the most up-to-date stats available on the tiny home population. Maria is also an independent consultant helping to develop tiny home communities in her home state of Virginia and is serving as a board member for the Tiny Home Industry Association (THIA).

Visit NANO:
Email for collaboration: or


  • –present
    Ph.D., Environmental Design and Planning, Virginia Tech


  • 2019 
    Virginia Tech, Ph.D. in Environmental Design and Planning