Current EI Fellows

Short Biographies


Katherine Alfredo (2013-2015 Cohort)

Katherine Alfredo received her Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Texas - Austin focusing chemical interactions between fluoride, aluminum, and natural organic matter during drinking water treatment. Katherine's interest in drinking water issues in rural, developing areas of the world led her to Ghana on a 2008-2009 U.S. Fulbright Fellowship. After completing her Ph.D., Katherine worked at the American Water Works Association policy division in Washington D.C. focusing on water quality compliance and policy. While at the Earth Institute, she will be working with Upmanu Lall, director, Columbia Water Center, on fluoride and arsenic drinking water issues in India. Katherine also holds a Master of Science in Engineering in environmental engineering from the University of Texas - Austin and a Bachelor of Engineering in civil engineering from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Art and Science.

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.

Elliot Cohen (2013-2015 Cohort)

Elliot Cohen received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the NSF-IGERT program on Sustainable Urban Infrastructure at the University of Colorado-Denver. His dissertation research combined theory and practice from urban metabolism, life-cycle assessment and statistical modeling to explore the dynamic relationship between water and energy resources and implications for future energy development. In 2012, Elliot was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct related fieldwork in India. At the Earth Institute, Elliot will work with Vijay Modi, director of the Sustainable Engineering Lab, to tackle grid-scale renewable energy integration and improve environmental performance of other large-scale engineered infrastructures.

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.

Aurélie Harou (2013-2015 Cohort)

Aurélie Harou holds a Ph.D. in Applied Economics and Management from Cornell University. Her research focuses on understanding the decisions and impacts of smallholders' participation in food value chains and smallholder technology adoption and disadoption patterns. Aurélie will be working at the Agriculture and Food Security Center where she will examine the effects of Malawi's Fertilizer Input Subsidy Program on both poverty alleviation and food security. Additionally, she will conduct an impact evaluation of SoilDoc, a new tool developed by the Center that provides measurements of essential soil parameters and uses information communications technology to provide farm-specific management recommendations. Aurélie holds a B.Sc. in Environmental Science and Geography from the University of Sussex, Brighton, and an M.S. from the University of California at Davis in Agricultural and Resource Economics.

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.

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.

Tanya O'Garra (2013-2015 Cohort)

Tanya O'Garra received her Ph.D. from Imperial College London in Environmental Economics. She has carried out economic valuation studies of hydrogen transport technologies in the UK, traditional fishing grounds in Fiji and worldwide climate change adaptation projects. Tanya will be working with Professor Dave Krantz, at the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions. Most present-day, environmental problems result from many individual actions. Though these may not be harmful by themselves, together they can combine to produce major environmental impacts. She will be using experimental, economic approaches to identify factors that might best enhance cooperation and other-regarding behavior among large numbers of anonymous agents. She will explore whether moral and personal norms might effectively stimulate cooperation in these large-scale social dilemmas, particularly in conjunction with other stimuli such as subsidies and leadership. Tanya will also be working on the Columbia University-led Polar Learning and Responding project (PoLAR) researching the impact of novel educational approaches on adult learning about climate change and the poles.

Jilian A. Sacks (2013-2015 Cohort)

Jilian A. Sacks received her Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Washington, where she also completed a Graduate Certificate in Global Health. She holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College. Most recently, Jilian was based at the Public Health Research Institute (Newark, NJ) and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB and HIV (Durban, South Africa), where she conducted research aimed at finding novel biomarkers of and therapeutics for spinal tuberculosis. While at the Earth Institute, Jilian will apply her lab-based, scientific background towards questions relevant to global health, working Yanis Ben Amor, director of the Tropical Laboratory Initiative. She will be looking at building laboratory capacity to combat infectious diseases in the Millennium Villages through the identification, development and implementation of novel, diagnostic technologies. Such tools, specifically focused on strengthening the management of persons living with HIV/AIDS, would help remove barriers and increase access to healthcare in these resource-limited regions.

Katya Vasilaky (2013-2015 Cohort)

Katya received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in agricultural and resource economics with a focus in development economics. Her dissertation focused on social networks, information dissemination and technology adoption working closely with female farmers in northern and eastern Uganda. Katya's research extends into issues of malaria in Uganda and competition and gender in Malawi. She is also currently working on information dissemination around climate risk in India. During her fellowship at the Earth Institute, Katya will be working with Dan Osgood, at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society. She will be applying her experience with social networks and technology adoption to understand and facilitate the take-up of index insurance in developing countries. Prior to her position at Columbia, Katya worked at US Naval Academy, the World Bank in several divisions of Development Economics (DEC). Katya is a NYC native, and completed her undergraduate degree at Columbia University in mathematics and economics.