Leidy Klotz

Leading Researcher on Design and Behavioral Science

Leidy Klotz is the Copenhaver Associate Professor at the University of Virginia, where he is appointed in the Schools of Engineering, Architecture, and Business. His wide-ranging research is filling in unexplored overlaps between design and behavioral science. For this interdisciplinary expertise, Klotz has earned a highly-selective CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, as well as one of the very first awards through the NSF’s INSPIRE program. He has been awarded over ten million dollars in competitive research funding; has published around 70 peer-reviewed articles; and was promoted ahead of schedule.


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. He facilitates lifelong learning for thousands of former students via Facebook and Twitter, and was an early adopter of massive open online courses, including one currently offered through Coursera. He advises influential decision-makers that straddle academia and practice, working, for example, with the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security, the National Institutes of Health, Resources for the Future, and ideas42.


In less than a decade, Klotz has built a research-to-practice community around his scholarship. Klotz chaired a year-long expert panel on design behavior for sustainability, convened by the journal Nature Sustainability. At the University of Virginia, he founded and directs the Convergent Behavioral Science Initiative, which engages and supports dozens of faculty and students doing applied, interdisciplinary research. In such roles, Klotz is bringing together scholars, funders, media, and practitioners in order to advance behavioral science for design.


Klotz is a columnist for the Behavioral Scientist. He has written for venues such as Science, Nature, Fast Company, and The Daily Climate. In addition to Subtract, he is also the author of an academic book, Sustainability Through Soccer: An Unexpected Approach to Saving Our World. (Before his academic career, Klotz was a college All-American and professional soccer player.)

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SubtractThe Untapped Science of Less
Flatiron Books

When humans solve problems, we overlook an incredibly powerful option: We don’t subtract. We pile on “to-dos” but don’t consider “stop-doings.” We create incentives for high performance, but don’t get rid of obstacles to our goals.

Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less Humans overlook the other kind of change: We don’t subtract. We pile on “to-dos” but don’t consider “stop-doings.” We create incentives for high performance, but don’t get rid of obstacles to our goals. Whether we’re making cities, sandwiches, or strategic plans, subtracting is harder to think of and harder to follow through with. Blending behavioral science and design, this talk offers a scientific appreciation of why we underuse subtraction―and how to access its untapped potential. By learning to use the counterintuitive approach of subtracting, we can revolutionize not just our day-to-day lives, but our work across every field and industry.

Check out Leidy Klotz’s article about imagining ways to introduce change and how subtracting adds value, in an insightful new article in the Harvard Business Review.

Read Leidy’s scholarly and peer-reviewed articles.

Learn more about Leidy’s course on sustainability on Coursera.

Visit Leidy Klotz’s personal website.