NREL’s Unique Mobility Behavioral Science Capability

NREL’s Unique Mobility Behavioral Science Capability

Activities at US national laboratories are certainly not a common topic during automotive repair industry conferences, expos or training events. The impact of cutting-edge research ongoing in these facilities is often perceived as long-term, maybe decades ahead. In the Curated News section of the website, the EV.THRIVE team is presenting news, research articles and resources that are relevant to the industry now and help connect to the scientific research.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), located a few miles from us in Golden, Colorado, prides itself in hosting world-class research groups which “accelerate the development of sustainable mobility technologies and strategies for passenger and freight transportation, with a focus on decarbonizing the transportation sector and combating climate change.” 

An unexpected, unique capability that has been established on NREL’s campus is on mobility behavioral science research. The Colorado laboratory is integrating behavioral science into technical research, as opposed to including sociological aspects into individual projects. This holistic approach helps connect technical advancements to current needs of communities and accelerates the efforts towards a zero-carbon society. One of its champions, Dr. Patricia Romero-Lankao, was featured on the laboratory’s website this March. Dr. Romero-Lankao is making social sciences part of the studies on the future of transportation, focusing on what people need and how they make decisions regarding mobility. This research targets urban mobility electrification, urban climate change, mobility and equity, and spans to science, technology, and policies, exploring the relationships between these areas. The feature article cited Dr. Romero-Lankao: “NREL is poised to develop a leadership role in examining interactions among people, policy, and technology” – a statement which summarizes the approach and makes us curious to see what is next.


Photo: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, Colorado) - Courtesy of DOE/NREL - Bill Timmerman

NREL sociology research

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