Leveson's research focuses on topics related to the design of complex systems containing software, hardware and human components, with a particular emphasis on system safety. Her book "Engineering a Safer World: Systems Thinking Applied to Safety," (part of the MIT Press Engineering Systems Book Series), proposes a new approach to safety — suited to today's complex sociotechnical, software-intensive world — based on modern systems thinking and systems theory. In presenting the award to Leveson, JR East Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Systems Joseph Sussman noted that her work is "changing the field of safety in fundamental ways."
The ESD Student Society promotes academic and social community among the students of ESD by planning events, assisting with orientation and mentoring for new students, and helping to link students with department faculty and the policy council. ESS organized the successful ESD PhD Program Alumni Symposium in fall 2011, which celebrated the first 100 ESD PhDs and invited ESD alumni to offer their insights on their careers in academia, government and industry..
ESD PhD students Rebecca Saari and Vivek Sakhrani, ESS co-presidents for 2012/2013, accepted the award on behalf of ESS.