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Marilyn Cornelius

Marilyn Cornelius
Title:PhD 2013
Primary Affiliation:Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment & Resources
Office Location:
Alternative Website:d.cipher

Biographical Information

Marilyn finished her PhD in 2013.  She is now the Managing Director & Cofounder of d.cipher. d.cipher offers change management workshops and advisory services for leaders addressing challenges in the fields of climate change mitigation and adaptation, education, and wellness. The d.cipher method integrates behavioral sciences, learning sciences, design thinking, and biomimicry to provide immediately applicable tools that allow clients to thrive in changing conditions and build adaptive and effective solutions. 

Marilyn’s dissertation focused on designing behavioral solutions to reduce carbon impacts related to energy use, food, and transportation in the residential sector. She is a cofounder of the Research as Design (RAD) project, which is refining a curriculum to teach design thinking to interdisciplinary scholars, and which studies the creative processes of successful interdisciplinary professors. Marilyn assisted late climatologist and advisor Professor Stephen Schneider with multiple climate-related projects at Stanford before commencing her doctoral studies.  

Prior to graduate school, as Environment Associate for the United Nations Development Program, Marilyn managed projects in ten Pacific Island nations focusing on climate change, energy, land degradation, and biodiversity. She was Fiji's Assistant National Director for the International Waters Program, a project spanning fourteen Pacific Island countries and focusing on waste management as well as conservation of freshwater and coastal fisheries. Marilyn received a Bachelor of Science with a focus on Environmental Resource Management from Menlo College, and holds a degree in Graphic Design.


Understanding the motivators and barriers for energy-related behavior change; reducing residential energy use; exploring global identity as a motivator for behavior change


BIOSCI 247/147 - Controlling Climate Change in the 21st Century, ~150 students (TA)

ME/ENVRES 380 - Collaborating with the Future: Launching Large Scale Sustainable Transformations, 30 students (co-instructor)

Professional Activities

  • Member of the American Psychological Association, Division 34: Population and Environmental Psychology (2011 - current)
  • Member of Initiative for Equality (IFE) Founding Board of Advisors, (2011-current)
  • Member of Chi Conference Advisory Board, Stanford University, (2010-2011)
  • NASA Science mentor to a teacher at Woodside High School, California, (2010) and Hayward High School (2011)
  • Reviewer, Climatic Change, 2010
  • E-IPER Student Committee representative, Stanford University, (2009-2010)
  • Social-M Challenge Organizing Committee member, Stanford University, (2009-2010)
  • Peer advisor to 15 PhD and MS students, Stanford University, (2009-present)
  • E-IPER Admissions Committee student representative, Stanford University, (2008-2009)
  • Co-organizer, E-IPER retreat, Stanford University, CA (2008)


  • 2003 | BSc, Environmental Resource Management, Menlo College
  • 1999 | AA, Graphic Design
  • 1995 | Diploma, International Baccalaureate

Professional Experience

  • 2009- Present | Research Assistant, Stanford ARPA-E Project
  • 2008 – Present | Research Assistant, Precourt Energy Efficiency Center
  • 2005 – 2007 | Administrative Assistant, Stephen Schneider's office, Stanford University
  • 2004 – 2005 | Energy/Environment/GEF Associate, UNDP
  • 2003-2004 | Assistant National Coordinator, International Waters Program, UNDP

Honors & Awards

  • 2011 | Certificate of Achievement in Mentoring, School of Earth Sciences
  • 2010 - Present | Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship
  • 2007-1020 | E-IPER Fellowship
  • 2005 | Employee of the year runner up, UNDP

University Service

  • 2009 – Present | Peer PhD and MS advisor
  • 2009 – 2010 | Student Committee representative
  • 2008 – 2009 | Admissions Committee representative


    Scientific Papers
  • Fiji Sub-Regional Profile for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, contributor, 2003.     Scientific Papers In Progress
  • Cornelius, M. and T Robinson. “Global Identity and Environmental Sustainability Attitudes and Behaviors.” Under review.
  • Cornelius, M., Armel, C., Robinson, T., Allen, L., and K. Hoffman. “Increasing Energy Saving Behaviors among Adolescents.” In preparation.
  • Cravens, A., Nabergoj, A., Cornelius, M., Royalty, A. and N. Ulibarri. “Behind the Scenes: Revealing the Creative Processes of Interdisciplinary Research.” In preparation.
  • Fidler, M., Tan, S., Alqatari, S., Bhansali, N., Chang, A., Davis, M., Kofman, E., Lee, K., Sivilay, P., Banerjee, B. and M. Cornelius. “Sensor-Based Physical Interactions as Interventions for Change in Residential Energy Consumption.” In preparation.   Chapters in Books
  • Daily, G., Cornelius M., Katz C., and B. Shillinglaw. “Conservation On Our Watch: Beyond Reserves, Beyond Charity, Beyond White,” The Nature Conservancy, 2009.   Letters, Book Reviews, Editorials, Interviews and Popularizations
  • Prasad, K. and M. Cornelius. (2011) “Climate Change and Animal Agriculture.” Sound bites for Supreme Master Television, Palo Alto, CA.
  • Cornelius, M. (2011). “Dedication to Steve Schneider.” Stanford Journal of Law, Science and Policy. Published online May 2011.
  • Harrington, C. and L. Fear. (2009). “A Conversation with Marilyn Cornelius.” Interview in Bay Area Green, Palo Alto, CA.
  • Cornelius, M. “Fairness in Adaptation to Climate Change - Book Review” Climatic Change, 2009.
  • Cornelius M. and S. Simpson. “The Push for Green Office Culture,” Business article, The Fiji Times, Suva, Fiji, 2005.
  • Cornelius, M. and S. Simpson: “Reality of Climate Change,” Opinion article, The Fiji Times, Suva, Fiji, 2005.   Thesis
  • International Baccalaureate Diploma: Bacteria as an indicator of lead pollution, author, 1995.
  • Posters
  • Cornelius, M. “Global Identity and Sustainability-Related Attitudes and Behaviors.” Behavior Energy and Climate Change Conference, Sacramento, CA, November 2010.

Advisee Degrees

  • Ed Castano, MBA/E-IPER MS, 2009-2011
  • Trista Shi, MS, Earth Systems, 2008-2010
  • Lily Cheng, MS, Earth Systems, 2008-2010
  • Kathryn Hoffman, MS, Earth Systems, 2008-2009

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