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 housing, system dynamics modelling, the management of change, and decision making. Multiple subject areas and universities 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 three 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), 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 efficieny in the wider policy and industrial context.

Currently, I am working on several reasearch grants: I lead the work package on City Engagemnt in the Complex Urban Systems for Sustainability and Health (CUSSH) project. This work package includes collaborators across four continents and about five post-doctoral reasearchers. In addition, I lead the system dynamics work package in the Total Performance of Low-Carbon Buildings in China and the UK (TOP) project. I am also a Co-Investigator on a prestigeous EPSRC Platform Grant on Built Environment Systems Thinking that aims at developing a systems perspective across the Bartlett School for Environment, Energy & Resources.

I research the wide ranging additional impacts that policies focused on reducing carbon emissions from dwellings have of on health, society and the environment. Here I aim at taking into account physical, social, economic and environmental wellbeing while emphasising co-benefits and minimising trade-offs. This research uses interdisciplinary and participatory methods.

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:

I welcome PhD applications on topics of

  • policy resistance;

  • adaptation, change and 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 since 2013 and Strategy Thread Chair for the International Conference of the System Dynamics Society since 2015. I contributed to governance and organizational activities as a member of the Policy Council of the System Dynamics Society, a Ph.D. colloquium organizer and a repeat volunteer coordinator at the International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, and a workshop organizer in the US, Germany, the UK, China, Kenya and France.