Leidy Klotz: Collaboration and academic leadership for a more resilient and sustainable built environment

Thursday, May 12, at 11 am, in Thornton Hall D221

The Architecture Department, SARC, and Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, SEAS Present:

Leidy Klotz

S.E. Liles Family Associate Professor of Civil Engineering

Clemson University

Collaboration and academic leadership for a more resilient and sustainable built environment

I will share ways that I have been able to apply rigorous scholarship to creative design of the built environment, and vice versa. Specifically, I will review my research including: experiments showing that design professionals often behave irrationally (like other humans); a national-scale survey of design-thinking traits; life-cycle assessment methods to incorporate measures of hazard risk; quantitative application of biomimicry to design of the built environment; and social sustainability considerations for building projects. I will also share my immediate plans to pursue more resilient and sustainable settlements by examining their physical, social, and information flows through a complex systems science lens. While my scholarship is broad, it is united by a common theme, the human interface with physical things, which is often seen as the purview of architects, but is increasingly considered by engineers.

My broad scholarship is only possible through collaboration, and so I will also share what I have learned about interdisciplinary academic leadership from my research experiences, from teaching courses that span disciplines, and from leading development of an interdisciplinary minor and co-curricular activities for undergraduate students. I will discuss how these experiences translate to academic leadership that would strengthen collaboration between architecture and engineering. Finally, I will explain why I am so hopeful that UVA will play a leading role in the design and operation of settlements that are sustainable and resilient in the face of climate change, in particular by engaging groups that view architects and engineers as one and the same.


Leidy Klotz is S.E. Liles Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at Clemson University, where he has worked since earning his Ph.D. in Architectural Engineering from Penn State in 2008. His scholarship merging design and behavioral science has been consistently funded, including through an NSF CAREER award and through one of the first awards through NSF’s interdisciplinary INSPIRE program. Leidy also plays a lead role in programs, funded by grants from NSF and the Department of Education, in which cohorts of graduate students pursue interdisciplinary research for a more resilient and sustainable built environment. Seven graduates from Leidy’s research team have secured faculty positions, six of whom are from underrepresented groups. Leidy’s ability to engage undergraduate students on similar topics earned him a spot on NerdScholar’s inaugural list of “40 under 40: Professors Who Inspire,” and he has twice been named by students as top teacher in his department and twice been recognized for individual mentoring of Clemson’s top undergraduates. Leidy led the establishment of Clemson’s interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability as well as Clemson’s chapter of the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program, both of which draw students from diverse majors. Before becoming an academic, Leidy worked managing the design and construction of building projects in New Jersey and before that he played for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds professional soccer team. Most of his family’s climate-changing emissions result from traveling to see grandparents or the beach.

This seminar series is open to the University community and region and is hosted by Professors Devin Harris for CEE Department and Kirk Martini for ARCH Department.