Photo of Patricia Romero-Lankao.

Patricia Romero Lankao

Researcher VI-Environmental Engineering

Orcid ID

Dr. Patricia "Paty" Romero-Lankao joined NREL's Center for Integrated Mobility Sciences in 2018 as a senior research scientist in joint appointment with the University of Chicago's Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, where she is a research fellow. Previously, she was a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Throughout her career, she has developed a considerable body of highly regarded sociological and transdisciplinary research resulting in several research grants and some 135 peer-reviewed publications.

Her work primarily focuses on crucial intersections among energy and water systems, mobility, and the built environment in cities around the world. She has developed many innovative methods (e.g., clustering techniques and indices) to examine how inequalities in income, education, and decision-making power across populations relate to the distribution of benefits or negative impacts associated with access to transportation, energy, and related technological innovations (e.g., distributional injustice). She has also developed elicitation tools (e.g., focus groups, fuzzy cognitive maps) to examine the energy and mobility needs of women, elders, the working class, people of color, and other underrepresented groups to inform understanding and management of these needs (e.g., procedural justice).

Romero-Lankao has extensive experience as a sociologist working across disciplines and at the science-policy interface in the United States, Mexico, and many urban locations internationally. Her leadership of international research has garnered a good deal of recognition—she served as co-leading author in a working group contributing to the Nobel Prize-winning Fourth Assessment Report published by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. She also serves on the editorial board of Earth's Future and several other journals and on the steering committee of the U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program.

Research Interests

Mobility behavior science

Justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in science, technology, and innovation

Environmental justice and equity

Social dimensions of the food, energy, and water nexus

Climate governance/policy

Environmental sociology

Transportation and mobility research


Ph.D., Rural Sociology and Environment, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, University of Bonn

Ph.D., Sociology, Urban Regional Studies and Public Policies, Autonomous Metropolitan University

M.A., Environmental Sociology, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

B.A., Environmental Sociology, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Professional Experience

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Senior Research Scientist (2018–Present)

Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, University of Chicago, Research Fellow (2018–Present)

International Human Dimensions Project, Scientific Steering Committee Member (2013–Present)

National Center for Atmospheric Research:

Senior Social Scientist (2016–2018)

Leader of Urban Futures, Research Applications Laboratory (2015–2018)

Deputy Director, Institute for the Study of Society and the Environment (2006–2008)

Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Associate Professor (1992–2006)

Featured Work

SMART Mobility Urban Science Capstone Report,  U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Report (2020)

A Data-Driven Mobility-Energy Typology Framework for New York State, Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science (2020)

Risk Inequality and the Food-Energy-Water Nexus: A Study of 43 City Adaptation Plans, Frontiers in Sociology (2019)

Extreme Events and Climate Adaptation-Mitigation Linkages: Understanding Low-Carbon Transitions in the Era of Global Urbanization, WIREs Climate Change (2019)

Realizing the Urban Transformative Potential in a Changing Climate, Nature Climate Change (2018)

Interdependencies and Risk to People and Critical Food, Energy, and Water Systems, 2013 Flood, Boulder, Colorado, Earth's Future (2018)

From Risk to WEF Security in the City: The Influence of Interdependent Infrastructural Systems,  Environmental Science & Policy (2018)

The Urban Planet: Knowledge Towards Sustainable Cities, Cambridge University Press (2018)

The Food-Energy-Water Nexus and Urban Complexity, Nature Climate Change (2017)

Urban Vulnerability to Temperature-Related Hazards: A Meta-Analysis and Meta-Knowledge Approach, Global Environmental Change (2012)

View all NREL publications for Patricia Romero-Lankao.