Erika Palmer

Erika K. Palmer

Senior Lecturer
Systems Engineering
631 Frank H.T. Rhodes Hall


Erika K. Palmer is a transdisciplinary social/sociotechnical systems engineer who brings diverse disciplines into the systems engineering community through her research and teaching. Palmer received her Ph.D. in Systems Engineering and Social Policy from the University of Bergen (Norway), where she brought systems engineering tools to the world of social systems in a radical collaborative environment with social scientists and humanities scholars – resulting in high policy impact with research outcomes integrating with policy-making platforms. She is the founder and chair of the Social Systems Working Group (SocWG) at the International Council for Systems Engineering (INCOSE). Palmer is also the Americas lead for Empowering Women Leaders in Systems Engineering (EWLSE) at INCOSE and represents Cornell on INCOSE’s Academic Council. Palmer will be spearheading the sociotechnical systems focus area in Cornell’s Systems Engineering Program.

Palmer’s research has put her at the forefront of bringing the social sciences into systems engineering. Through radical collaboration, Palmer’s labs have fostered transdisciplinary innovation to address societal challenges in areas such as public policy, agriculture and critical infrastructure. With her move to the Cornell Systems Engineering Program, Palmer will collaborate with both students and faculty on stakeholder-centric research aimed towards high societal impact. This research requires diverse disciplinary involvement, especially from the social sciences and the humanities. Palmer therefore welcomes and encourages inquiries from across Cornell, as well as from anyone interested in social/sociotechnical approaches in engineering.

Research Interests

Palmer’s research interests cross disciplinary boundaries, and she is particularly interested in advising students from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds to grow a diverse and inclusive research environment in systems engineering.

  • System Approaches to Policy/Policy Modeling: Across application areas, including public policy, food and agriculture, circular/blue/bio-economy and critical infrastructure; Focus on law, policy implementation and inclusive stakeholder-centric participatory modeling
  • Quantification of Social/Sociotechnical Systems: Modeling and simulation (e.g., system dynamics, agent-based and discrete event) of social science concepts (e.g., social/cultural capital and gender) and working hands-on with stakeholders and social scientists/humanities scholars to develop standards of practice
  • Sustainability: Systems science/engineering approaches to societal and environmental challenges in a variety of application areas; Focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the NAE Grand Challenges.
  • Ethics: Integrating ethics as part of engineering education; Focus on modeling ethics, AI and ethics and engineering ethics
Research Group Members

Teaching Interests

All courses are inclusively designed to accommodate students from diverse backgrounds – including diverse academic backgrounds.

  • Sociotechnical Systems Engineering (Planned Fall 2022) – This transdisciplinary course brings social science concepts under the lens of systems science for the application of systems engineering tools and methods in a variety of engineering domains.


Service Interests

Palmer is part of the Systems Ph.D./M.S. Committee.

Selected Publications

  • Palmer, E. and Feli, H. (2022) Gender Diversity in Systems Engineering Leadership of the Product, Project and Services Life Cycle. In Emerging Trends in Systems Engineering Leadership. Springer: New York, In Press.
  • Polhill, G., Hare, M., Bauerman, T., Palmer, E. Salt, D. Antosz, P. (2021). Using Agent-based Models for Prediction in Complex and Wicked Systems. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 24(3): 2.
  • Palmer, E. Burton, R and Haskins, C. (2020). A Systems Engineering Framework for Bioeconomic Transitions in a Sustainable Development Goal Context. Sustainability, 12(16): 6650.
  • Palmer, E. and Wilson, B. (2018). Models with Men and Women: Representing Gender in Dynamic Modeling of Social Systems. Science and Engineering Ethics, 24(2): 419-439.
  • Palmer, E. (2017). Beyond Proximity: Consequentialist Ethics and System Dynamics. Nordic Journal of Applied Ethics, 11(1): 89-105.


  • Ph.D. (Systems Engineering & Social Policy), University of Bergen, Norway, 2017
  • M.Sc. (Industrial Ecology), Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 2013
  • M.Sc. (Biological Anthropology), University College London, 2007
  • B.A. (Psychology), University of Maryland, College Park, 2004



Research Group Members

Graduate Students