Current EI Fellows

Current EI Fellows

Short Biographies


Ruthie Birger (2016-2018 Cohort)

Ruthie Birger conducted her PhD research in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. She focused on HIV-Hepatitis C coinfection dynamics, using mathematical models to describe both within-patient biological processes and epidemiological impacts of public health interventions. At the Earth Institute, Ruthie will be building on these modeling methods and applying them in an effort to understand the interplay between coinfection with various pathogens and the emergence and evolution of drug resistance in populations and individuals. One of the main goals of this research will be to improve estimates of the scale of the growing problem of drug resistance, in particular in the context of global urbanization.

Allison Bridges (2017-2019 Cohort)

Allison Bridges received her Ph.D. from the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. As a National Science Foundation IGERT Fellow, she researched the role of institutional and technological innovation in improving the sustainability of urban systems, particularly in the land and energy sectors. She will be working in the Research Program on Sustainability Policy and Management to continue her research on urban institutions and sustainable development. Prior to earning her Ph.D., Allison worked for the World Bank and the World Health Organization. She also holds degrees from New York University (M.A.), The New School (M.A.), and the University of Georgia (B.A.).

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.

Kyle Davis (2016-2018 Cohort)

Kyle received his Ph.D in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia. While there, he examined various human and environmental impacts of the globalizing food system and ways to make future food production more sustainable. Working with Prof. Ruth DeFries and Brian Richter (The Nature Conservancy), he will continue this general line of research at the Earth Institute. He will lead collaborative efforts to examine several case studies which highlight the multiple challenges at the nexus of food, water, and climate change. These teams will develop strategies to simultaneously increase food production, reduce the environmental cost of agriculture, and enhance the climate resilience of farmers.

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.

Pilar Fernández (2017-2019 Cohort)

Pilar Fernández received her Ph.D. in biological sciences from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her dissertation focused on vector-borne Chagas disease eco-epidemiology in indigenous rural communities of northern Argentina. In her research, she integrates traditional epidemiological research with an expanded perspective that includes eco-bio-social determinants, their eventual interactions and spatial patterns, employing a complex system approach. At the Earth Institute, she will be working with Prof. Maria Diuk-Wasser to develop simulation models to characterize the reciprocal interaction and feedback loops between human behavior and environmental risk of tick-borne diseases at multiple scales in northeastern U.S. within the conceptual framework of the dynamics of coupled natural and human systems (CNH). Her ultimate goal is to identify critical factors affecting disease transmission, which will aid in the design of improved intervention strategies to alleviate the biological and socio-economic burden of these diseases in affected communities.

Maron Greenleaf (2017-2019 Cohort)

Maron Greenleaf is an anthropologist and legal scholar. She studies the social and political significance of climate change and efforts to mitigate it, particularly through market-based measures. She uses critical field-based social science methods and legal analysis to understand how environmental governance can both address and exacerbate inequity. For her dissertation research, Maron researched carbon credits and efforts to reduce deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. As an Earth Institute Fellow at Columbia, she will work with Benjamin Orlove to study the landscapes and governance of climate change. Maron holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University, a J.D. from New York University, and a B.A. from Yale University.

Alexandra Karambelas (2016-2018 Cohort)

Alexandra (Alex) Karambelas received her Ph.D. in Environment and Resources from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Alex’ research focuses on the links between energy, emissions, air quality, and human health outcomes. During her time at The Earth Institute, Alex will work with Drs. Ruth DeFries, Arlene Fiore, and Patrick Kinney to evaluate these connections in northern India. Through this research, she seeks to quantify contributions from various anthropogenic emissions sectors to ambient pollution concentrations and human health outcomes in the region and determine potential sectors for future mitigation. Alex also holds degrees in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (B.S., M.S.) and a certificate in Energy Analysis and Policy from the University of Wisconsin—Madison.

Ding Ma (2016-2018 Cohort)

Ding Ma received his Ph.D in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Harvard University. His dissertation research investigated three dominant patterns of large-scale atmospheric variability, namely the South Asian monsoon, Madden-Julian Oscillation and the annular mode. At the Earth Institute, he will be working with Prof. Adam Sobel to explore extreme weather associated with large-scale variability and its societal impacts. His work will emphasize a combination of observational analysis and numerical modeling. Guided by observations, numerical experiments will be designed and conducted to pursue a better theoretical understanding of the large-scale atmospheric variability in the past, present and future. His work will identify essential physical mechanisms governing the large-scale circulation variability and will have important implications for interpretation of climate projection.

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).

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.

Anand Osuri (2017-2019 Cohort)

Anand Osuri is an ecologist with interests in tropical forests, conservation, and restoration. He received his Ph.D. in Biology from India’s National Centre for Biological Sciences. His doctoral research examined how forest fragmentation alters the structure, composition and carbon storage potential of tropical rainforest tree communities. Working with Prof. Shahid Naeem, Prof. Ruth DeFries. and Dr. Susan Cook-Patton (The Nature Conservancy), his research at the Earth Institute will examine temporal stability of carbon sequestration under different kinds of tropical forests and plantations. The research is expected to contribute towards a more nuanced understanding of the suitability of different reforestation strategies for sequestering carbon in an increasingly variable and drought prone future climate.

Andy Stock (2017-2019 Cohort)

Andy Stock draws on geoinformatics and computer science to solve problems in marine ecology. At the Earth Institute, he will use machine learning methods to extract information about plankton community composition from satellite images. Andy received his Ph.D. from Stanford University’s Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, where he investigated uncertainty in maps of human impact on marine ecosystems. Before returning to academia, he was an environmental consultant, software developer, and cartographer. He holds degrees in geoinformatics from the University of Turku, Finland (M.Sc.) and in computer science from the University of Leipzig, Germany (B.Sc.).

Nandini Velho (2016-2018 Cohort)

Nandini Velho has done field work in remote areas in north-east India, where her PhD focused on how protected area and community-managed lands are managed to reduce hunting and help wildlife persist. She works closely with the forest department, resident communities and writes in popular media. She completed her Ph.D. from James Cook University, Australia. As an EI fellow, she will be working with Ruth DeFries to understand the social and health outcomes that exist in and around India’s protected areas.