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Patricia Romero Lankao

Researcher V-Environmental Engineering

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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. From a behavioral science perspective, she examines the interactions among people, mobility, the built environment, and energy systems, as well as their resilience to disruptive events.

Previously, she worked at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, where she examined crucial intersections between urbanization and risks associated with food, energy, and water systems along with related governance and the capacity of these systems to adapt to and mitigate climate risks.

Throughout her career, she has played leadership roles in various interdisciplinary and international research projects, resulting in several research grants and some 120 peer-reviewed publications. She served as co-leading author in one of the working groups contributing to the Nobel Prize-winning Fourth Assessment Report published by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In addition to her international work for organizations such as Future Earth, she is a steering committee member of the U.S. Carbon Program and the Boulder County, Colorado-based BoCo Strong initiative.

Research Interests

Behavioral and decision science

Urbanization and inequality in risk in urban systems

Food, energy, and water

Environmental governance/policy

Environmental sociology

Agricultural science

Transportation 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)

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)

Cities in Transition: Transforming Urban Centers from Hotbeds of GHG Emissions and Vulnerability to Seedbeds of Sustainability and Resilience, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability (2011)

View all NREL publications for Patricia Romero-Lankao.