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Laura Cabrera, PhD

Mom, Wife, Professor, Researcher, Aspiring Yogi, Foodie
Laura Cabera

Laura Cabrera (B.S., M.P.A, & PhD, Cornell) currently teaches Systems Thinking and Modeling and Systems Leadership at Cornell University at the Institute for Policy Affairs. She is also Program Director for Cornell’s Graduate Certification Program in Systems Thinking, Modeling, and Leadership (STML). Cabrera serves as faculty for the SC Johnson College of Business, where she delivers Executive Education Programs to executive teams in both systems thinking and systems leadership.She is co-founder, and chief research officer at Cabrera Research Lab. She was Co-Founder and Chief Research Officer of Plectica (since sold). Over the past decade, Laura has applied her expertise in research methods and translational research to increase public understanding, practical application, and dissemination of sophisticated systems science and systems thinking models. She was also invited by eCornell to deliver the online certificate course in Systems Thinking and Leadership, as well as the eCornell courses that are part of the Executive MPA Program. She was the acting Executive Director of ThinkWater, a USDA-funded initiative designed to implement systems thinking nationwide in water-based research, extension, and education. In 2018 and again in 2024, she received the National Science Foundation Innovation Research (SBIR) for her work in cognition. She has more than twenty-five years of research and teaching experience at Cornell University, which includes:  teaching coursework on families and social policy in Cornell's Department of Human Development; Senior Research Associate  at the Center for Translational Research; Principal Evaluator for the Eat Smart New York Program for the NYS Food Stamp and Nutrition Education Program; Project Director for the National Science Foundation Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Systems Evaluation Capacity Grant to evaluate STEM Education nationwide and to develop a systems thinking approach to STEM education; and Co-Principal Investigator for Cornell’s Parenting in Context Initiative.  Prior to Cornell, Cabrera conducted research at the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Justice. She has authored five books including Systems Thinking Made Simple: New Hope for Solving Wicked Problems and Thinking at Every Desk: Four Simple Skills to Transform Your Classroom (Norton), Flock Not Clock: Design, Align, and Lead to Achieve Your Vision, and is currently co-editor of the Handbook of Systems Thinking. Her work in public schools was documented in the full-length documentary film, RE:Thinking. Dr. Cabrera holds a PhD in Policy Analysis and Management and a Master's in Public Administration, and a bachelor's degree, all from Cornell University. She is a member of the United States Military Academy at West Point’s Systems Engineering Advisory Board. She specializes in translating cutting-edge research from the learning sciences for broad application--whether in corporations, schools, nonprofits, government agencies, or for parents interested in the psychosocial development of their children. She lives in Ithaca, NY, with her husband, Derek Cabrera, three children, and dogs.