B.S. ​Lafayette CollegeM.S. University of WashingtonPh.D. Penn State

"People systematically overlook subtractive changes"

Leidy Klotz is filling in underexplored overlaps between engineering and behavioral science, in pursuit of more sustainable systems. He has published over 80 peer-reviewed articles in venues that include top academic journals in built environment engineering, engineering education, and design, as well as both Science and Nature.

Klotz's second research-based book, Subtract, came out in April, 2021.

 Volume 592 Issue 7853, 8 April 2021

Nationally recognized as one of 40-under-40 professors who inspire, Klotz has received multiple institution-level teaching awards for his classes and close work with undergraduates, eleven of whom have earned Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation. He was an early adopter of massive open online courses. One is currently offered through Coursera and has reached tens of thousands of learners around the world. Another, on Sustainable Energy Innovation, led to real projects on at least three continents. Klotz also advises influential decision-makers that straddle academia and practice, working with the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security, the National Institutes of Health, the World Bank, Resources for the Future, Evidn., and ideas42, among others.

Klotz has built a research-to-practice community around his scholarship. To support this interdisciplinary work, Klotz has been awarded over $10,000,000 in competitive research funding, including a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, as well as one of the very first awards through the NSF’s INSPIRE program. He’s advised 23 Ph.D. students, and his former advisees now hold influential positions in industry and academia including at: The University of Washington, Cornell, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Colorado State University, The University of San Diego, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and The University of Florida. Klotz's scholarship benefits from diversity and inclusion. More than three quarters of his advisees are from groups underrepresented in their respective fields.

Klotz has written for venues such as The Washington Post, Fast Company, HBRThe Daily Climate, Inside Higher Ed, The Behavioral Scientist, and ASEE Prism. His first scholarly book was, Sustainability Through Soccer: An Unexpected Approach to Saving Our World. (Before his academic career, Klotz was a professional soccer player.)  


  • Research Award, University of Virginia 2021
  • 40 under 40: Professors Who Inspire, Nerdscholar 2014
  • CAREER Award, National Science Foundation 2011

Research Interests

  • Sustainable Engineering
  • Behavioral Science
  • Design

In the News

Selected Publications

  • "People Systematically Overlook Subtractive Changes." Nature. 592. 258-261. ABS Adams, G., Converse, B., Hales, A., and Klotz, L.
  • "Embracing Behavioral Science." The Bridge - National Academy of Engineering. 50 (4). ABS Klotz, L., and Pickering, J. (2020)
  • “Beyond rationality in engineering design for sustainability.” Nature Sustainability. 1: 225-233. ABS Klotz, L., Weber, E., Johnson, E., Shealy, E., Hernandez, M., Gordon, B. (2018)
  • “Framing effects to inform more sustainable infrastructure design decisions.” ASCE Journal of Construction Engineering and Management (04016037). Shealy, E., Klotz, L., Weber, E., Johnson, E., Greenspan Bell, R., (2016).
  • “Sustainability as a route to broaden participation in engineering.” Journal of Engineering Education, 103(1): 137-153. Klotz, L., Potvin, G., Cribbs, J., Godwin, A, Hazari, Z., and Barclay, N. (2014).
  • “Social sustainability considerations during planning and design: A framework of processes for construction projects.” American Society of Civil Engineers Journal of Construction Engineering and Management. 139(1): 80–89. Valdes, R. and Klotz, L. (2013).
  • “A framework for sustainable whole systems design.” Design Studies. 33(5) 456-479. Blizzard, J. and Klotz, L. (2012).
  • "Interest in STEM is contagious for students in biology, chemistry, and physics classes." Science Advances. 3(8). ABS Hazari, Z., Potvin, G., Godwin, A., Cribbs, J., Klotz, L., and Scott, T. (2017)
  • “Unintended Anchors: Building Rating Systems and Energy Performance Goals for U.S. Buildings.” Energy Policy. 38 (7): 3557-3566. Klotz, L., Mack, D., Klapthor, B., Tunstall, C. and Harrison, J. (2010).

Courses Taught

  • Systems and Sustainability in the Built Environment Spring
  • Behavioral Design Fall
  • Sustainable Energy Innovation Online

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