Current EI Fellows

Short Biographies


Graeme Blair (2014-2016 Cohort)

Graeme Blair will receive a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University in 2015. During his time at the Earth Institute he will be working with Columbia University’s Experiments in Governance and Politics network. Based in part on field research in Nigeria, Graeme’s research focuses on why groups living near valuable assets like oil fields are often able to force governments to make policy changes and share revenues from the assets. He also studies why civilians support armed groups in conflict through survey research in Afghanistan, Mexico, Nigeria, and Pakistan, and develops new survey research methods for asking sensitive questions. Graeme holds a B.A. in political science from Reed College.

Madison Condon (2015-2017 Cohort)

Madison Condon received her J.D. from Harvard University and her Masters in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. Her research focuses on environmental law, land and water rights, and international trade and investment law. As a Fulbright Fellow based in the Netherlands, she researched the impact of foreign investment on customary water rights in rural Tanzania. Her most recent work examines the integration of environmental treaties into trade agreements. Prior to joining the Earth Institute, Madison clerked for Judge Jane Kelly of the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. She will be working with the Columbia Water Center on a project on water use in the mining industry. She received a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Columbia University.

Shauna Downs (2014-2016 Cohort)

Shauna received her Ph.D. in Public Health from the Menzies Centre for Health Policy at the University of Sydney, Australia. She used supply chain analysis to identify points where policy interventions could be implemented in the Indian fats supply chain to improve the quality of the food supply. During her time at the Earth Institute Shauna will be working with Drs. Jess Fanzo, Glenn Denning, and Richard Deckelbaum at the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Institute of Human Nutrition. Her work focuses on the impacts of intensified horticultural production complemented with nutrition education on nutrition outcomes in Senegal and the pathways by which these impacts occur. She will also explore evidence-informed, best practices regarding how to produce and consume healthy food in sustainable ways. Shauna holds a B.S. from the University of Calgary and a M.S. in nutrition and metabolism from the University of Alberta, Canada.

Robert Elliott (2015-2017 Cohort)

Robert Elliott received his Ph.D in Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics (CEEM) from Columbia University. During his time at the Earth Institute, he will be researching how to update contemporary infrastructure with eco-technical systems and apply engineering principles observed in living systems to develop more sustainable environments. Specifically, he will work with an interdisciplinary team of scientists to focus on the ability of green infrastructure to improve urban health and livability while mitigating environmental pollution. Projects include designing next-generation green infrastructure components, measuring the efficacy of extant green infrastructure, and multi-scale modeling of various ecosystem services. Robert holds a B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Lafayette College.

Xiaohui Feng (2015-2017 Cohort)

Xiaohui received her Ph.D. in Plant Biology from the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana. Her dissertation research investigated the productivity, physiology, community dynamics, and ecological impacts of a grassland agro-ecosystem combining field studies and ecosystem modeling. At the Earth Institute, she will be working with Dr. Maria Uriarte to improve our understanding of global carbon cycle. As a field ecologist and modeler, her research will focus on the investigation of the interactions and feedbacks of tropical forests with climatic changes. Her research goals are to quantify the responses of tropical forests to climate variability including drought, warming and hurricane disturbance and to improve the predictive capacity of terrestrial ecosystem models. Her work will identify the critical scientific gaps and key processes in tropical forest studies, and thus lead to significant improvement in the representation of tropical ecosystems in terrestrial carbon models.

Booyuel Kim (2014-2016 Cohort)

Booyuel received his Ph.D. in sustainable development from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. His dissertation examined externalities and complementarities of HIV/AIDS prevention strategies in Malawi. Booyuel's research extends into the girls' education support program on human capital development and maternal and child health program in sub-Saharan Africa. At the Earth Institute, Booyuel will work with Millennium Villages Project and the One Million Community Health Worker Campaign. Booyuel holds a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts from Handong Global University in economics.

Martina Kirchberger (2014-2016 Cohort)

Martina received her D.Phil. in economics from the University of Oxford. Her dissertation examined the labor market consequences of natural disasters, preferences of siblings and intra-household allocation, and the cost of transport infrastructure in low income countries. Her most recent work documents how basic living standards change across population density. Martina will be working with Chris Small at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network investigating the contribution of spatial systems of cities to national output and how transport networks and infrastructure influence mobile communication patterns and economic activity. She will also be involved in the development of TerraPop.

W. Victoria Lee (2014-2016 Cohort)

Victoria received her Ph.D. in Architecture from the University of Cambridge. Her dissertation explored new ways to assess and predict the indoor thermal environment, with a particular focus on health implications. During her time at the Earth Institute Victoria will be working with Dr. Pat Kinney and Dr. Jeff Shaman at the Climate and Health Program in the Mailman School of Public Health to examine the impact of indoor heat exposure on heat-related health outcomes, as well as to investigate factors that drive the variability of the indoor heat exposure across NYC residential building stock. Victoria holds a Master of Architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Master of Philosophy in Environmental Design from University of Cambridge.

Justin Mankin (2015-2017 Cohort)

Mankin is a climate scientist jointly appointed at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the Center for Climate Systems Research under the Earth Institute. His research aims to advance understanding and responses to global warming’s impacts on people. He focuses on two of the major sources of uncertainty in climate impacts assessments: the chaos innate to the climate system and the complexity of how people respond to climate stress. His hope is that his research can help inform the adaptation and risk management decisions that people undertake in response to the uncertain threats from climate change. Prior to earning his PhD from Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, he served as an intelligence officer. He also holds degrees from Columbia University (BA, MPA) and the London School of Economics (MSc).

Shira Mitchell (2014-2016 Cohort)

Shira Mitchell received her Ph.D. in biostatistics from Harvard University, focusing on hierarchical models for estimating numbers of casualties in armed conflicts and for impact evaluation (i.e. causal inference). She also holds a B.A. in mathematics from Harvard University. While at the Earth Institute, she will be working with Andrew Gelman, professor of statistics and political science and director of the Applied Statistics Center, and Jeffrey D. Sachs, professor of sustainable development, and director of the Earth Institute and the Millennium Villages Project. They will be working on the end-line impact evaluation of the Millennium Villages Project. Shira will be focusing on the use of Bayesian hierarchical models for analysis of complex survey designs, small area estimation, and causal inference.

Hannah Nissan (2015-2017 Cohort)

Hannah Nissan is a climate scientist from London. Originally a physicist by training, she holds a postgraduate degree in economics and a PhD in regional climate modelling from Imperial College London. At the Earth Institute she will work jointly with scientists at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre to develop climate change projections for disaster risk reduction programmes in Bangladesh. A key focus of her research will be to examine how this knowledge, and in particular the uncertainty surrounding climate projections, can best be communicated to decision makers.

Jeffrey Paller (2015-2017 Cohort)

Jeffrey Paller received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research focuses on the practice of democracy and accountability in urban African slums. He also examines the political conditions under which collective action leads to public goods outcomes. During his time at the Earth Institute he will be working with the Center for Sustainable Urban Development. He is working on a book manuscript about political accountability in urban Africa based on his fieldwork in Ghana, as well as a project that examines state and slum relations, land rights, and public goods across Africa. Jeffrey holds a B.A. in political science from Northwestern University.