UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering

Dr Nici Zimmermann

Dr Nici Zimmermann

Associate Professor

Bartlett School Env, Energy & Resources

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Oct 2014

Research summary

With an interest in counterintuitive and innovative solutions for important problems, I research topics related to sustainable housing and cities, system dynamics modelling, the change, and decision making. Multiple subject areas enhanced my interest in discerning interdisciplinary approaches to address problems. In interdisciplinary research I use participative methods and my main research methods are system dynamics modelling, qualitative and case study research. I have a strong interest in processes of change, interactions among people and the construction of an environment sustainable in every sense, allowing for resilient development.

In the past years, I have completed work on Integrated Decision-Making about Housing, Energy and Wellbeing (HEW), on Housing in Nairobi's Informal Settlements(HINIS), on a Web-Integrated Interactive Simulation Environment (HEW-WISE),on the Total Performance of Low-Carbon Buildings in China and the UK (TOP) and an exciting project with the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy on developing a systems perspective of home owner decision-making about energy efficiency in the wider policy and industrial context.

Currently, I am working on several research grants: I lead the work package on City Engagement in the Complex Urban Systems for Sustainability and Health (CUSSH) project. This work package includes collaborators across four continents. In addition, as Co-Investigator I lead on participatory system dynamics work in the Community Water Management for a Liveable London (CAMELLIA) project and am working on the project Virtual Decision Rooms for Water Neutral Urban Planning (VENTURA) project. In addition, I lead two work packages focused on policy and/or knowledge transfer: In the Co-creating Systems Thinking in Policy on Sustainability (CoSTiPoS) project, we work with the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Government Office for Science on supporting a move to systems thinking in government and in a knowledge exchange project we work with the social consultancy 4OC and members of a local authority on a systems perspective of their service delivery. I am also a Co-Investigator on a prestigious EPSRC Platform Grant on Built Environment Systems Thinking that aims at developing a systems perspective across the Bartlett School for Environment, Energy & Resources.

My research is participatory, and typically inter- or transdisciplinary, involving diverse stakeholder groups to better understand the wide ranging additional impacts that policies have on health, society and the environment.

Teaching summary

I have taught a variety of different modules over the last decade. Currently I teach Methods of Environmental Analysis as well as Systems Thinking and System Dynamics.

PhD supervision:

Currently I supervise five PhD students as primary and one as secondary supervisor.

I welcome PhD applications on topics of

  • attention, change or decision-making in organisations such as government departments, NGOs and the built environment industry;
  • (participatory) system dynamics modelling and qualitative research.


Higher Education Academy
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ03 - Recognised by the HEA as a Fellow | 2016
University of Mannheim
Doctorate, Doctor | 2011
London School of Economics and Political Science
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 2005
Universitat Bayreuth
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts | 2004


I am an Associate Professor at the UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, working on topics related to housing, energy and wellbeing as well as decision-making and change. I hold a BA in Philosophy & Economics from the University of Bayreuth, a MSc in Management from LSE and a PhD in Business Administration from the University of Mannheim, but also spent semesters at the University of California at Irvine, Stockholm School of Economics and SUNY Albany. Before joining UCL, I was Junior Professor for Organization Studies at the University of Siegen, Germany where I led and co-led interdisciplinary research groups on 'Innovation and Development' and 'Region – Diversity – Innovation'.

I have been a jury member for the Gert von Kortzfleisch Prize, Policy Council member of the System Dynamics Society, repeat Strategy Thread Chair and 2022 Programme Chair for the International System Dynamics Conference. Currently I contribute to the governance and development of the system dynamics field as member of the System Dynamics Society's Program Oversight Committee. I have also been a workshop organizer in the US, Germany, the UK, China, Kenya and France.