Leidy Klotz

Hi, I’m Leidy Klotz. I try to help young people make a better world. The best way I know how is through teaching and research, in particular trying to find out what leads to elegant, sustainable, and systems-level infrastructure solutions. My hope is that this website shares progress and encourages even more people to join in.

My scholarship is pretty broad, but I like to think I’m making contributions in three areas:

1. Behavioral and systems science insights for design and operation of the built environment. This line of research seeks to apply and merge advances in systems and behavioral sciences (e.g., psychology, sociology, neuroscience, marketing, and organizational theory) to advance understanding of the design and engineering of buildings and other forms of civil infrastructure. For example, my CAREER award research examines decision biases and interventions in design decisions that shape energy innovation and, ultimately, performance. While the focus for my research has been the decision biases themselves, the findings have practical implications for interventions in building control systems and in energy modeling software, for example. I am extending this research to non-building physical infrastructure systems in collaboration leading behavioral scientists, including Elke Weber and Eric Johnson. The project appeals to them because decision biases and interventions have been studied mostly at the individual consumer level. Upstream decisions made in multi-stakeholder environments are largely unexplored, which is a critical omission in light of their potential impact. Little is known about this topic in part because study requires integrated understanding at the interface of behavioral science and decision making for physical infrastructure systems, which is an area I will continue to contribute to. I think this work has the potential to help redefine and even remove boundaries between design and systems and behavioral sciences. If those who plan, design, and use the built environment are able to appreciate complex systems and recognize behavioral influences on decisions, they will better manage their own decisions and be more likely to consider how designs and controls influence users’ decisions. Likewise, the approach can point behavioral and complex systems science research towards underexplored but socially important areas of application.

2. Sustainable and resilient built environment. I have enjoyed exploring diverse topics in a more resilient and sustainable built environment as Co-PI on grants to support graduate students via NSF’s Science Master’s Program and the Department of Education’s Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Needs (GAANN) programs, respectively. For example, one GAANN Ph.D. student I co-advised studied seashells for insights into adaptive design of the built environment. Her other advisor brought expertise in structural engineering, and I helped make connections to relevant theory from biomimicry and complex systems science. Another GAANN Ph.D. student I co-advised studied how people learn and apply basic energy competencies from low-energy homes. His other advisor brought expertise on methods to study learning, while I helped make connections to technologies and design strategies for energy innovation and performance in homes. My research consistently involves other disciplines and I have found that interactions between graduate students and their advisors are very effective at forging deeper collaborations across disciplines and broadening my own research horizons.

3. Systems-thinking and systems science in the built environment. My Ph.D. work exposed me to systems-thinking as an approach to make design and research advances. While not explicitly complex systems science, these experiences showed me the power of process and system-scale considerations, which motivated me to learn as much as possible about complex systems science as a new assistant professor. I have since authored several journal articles related to systems-thinking in design. In my book, Sustainability through Soccer, I attempt to distill complex systems science principles in a way that will resonate with readers who are new to the topic. This exercise has advanced my understanding of how I can use these principles in my own research.

All of these research topics overlap with study of design education. I have found that engaging in this education research also strengthens my teaching and advising, and has similar benefits for Ph.D. students and faculty collaborators. For instance, I was PI on an NSF-funded project to examine whether and how sustainability is a topic that can lead to more diverse participation in engineering.

More about me

And, last but not least, a bit about my soccer career. Before trying to make a better world, I lived for soccer until I got to a level where I was spending more time on the bench than the field. To help drive up the youtube popularity, please watch this high-point from my soccer career. Yes, it was an easy goal and yes, I may have been offsides.