Current EI Postdocs

Current EI Postdocs

Short Biographies


Weston Anderson (2018-2020 Cohort)

Weston Anderson is a climate scientist studying the dynamics of climate variability and its relation to food security using reanalysis products, remote sensing observations, and model simulations. His recent research includes understanding how modes of climate pose a correlated risk to global agriculture, characterizing agriculturally-relevant ENSO teleconnections, and quantifying trends in growing-season climate extremes. As an Earth Institute fellow, he will be working with Lisa Goddard and Walter Baethgen to study how risks to food security will change in the future, and how vulnerable countries will need to alter their current approach to mitigating food supply shocks to deal with these changes.

Ben Bales (2019-2021 Cohort)

Ben Bales received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara. There he worked on inferring the mechanical properties of single crystal superalloys in collaboration with Brent Goodlet of Materials Science. At the Earth Institute, Ben will be working with Andrew Gelman and the Stan development team to improve algorithms for solving problems using Bayesian inference. His research interests are in Bayesian inference, hierarchical modeling, differential equations, and dynamical systems.

Amanda Baxter (2020-2022 Cohort)

Amanda Baxter is an electrochemist broadly interested in sustainable energy research. She completed her Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Southern California. There, her most recent work focused on improving catalyst performance in fuel cells. At the Earth Institute, Amanda is working toward fuel production from seawater and renewable energy with integrated carbon capture and storage. Overall, this process enables clean fuel production and negative carbon emissions while consuming only abundant natural resources: renewable energy, seawater, air and silicate minerals. Therefore, such an approach could be implemented on a large scale to help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and combat climate change.

Festival Godwin Boateng (2020-2022 Cohort)

Festival Godwin Boateng is a political economist specializing in sustainable cities. He has an interest in Africa’s urban problems that are often (mis)diagnosed as a function of attitudinal problems, and overpopulation. Festival holds a BA (Hons) degree in Sociology and Social Work (Political Science minor) from KNUST, Ghana and a masters in Global Studies and International Development Studies from Roskilde University, Denmark. He received his PhD in Global, Urban and Social Studies from RMIT University, Australia. At the Earth Institute, Festival will be working with Dr Jacqueline Klopp in the Centre for Sustainable Urban Development (CSUD) on the working lives of Africa’s urban poor as well as the structural factors that produce, maintain and worsen their hardships in the transport sector.

Sarah Garland (2020-2022 Cohort)

Sarah received her Ph.D. in Plant Sciences from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, as a recipient of the Cambridge International Scholarship. Her doctoral work focused on generating new methods of plant gene editing for both basic research and agricultural applications. Outside of the lab, she was a leader of the Cambridge Food Security Forum and a member of the Cambridge Global Food Security Interdisciplinary Research Centre steering committee. At the Earth Institute, Sarah will work with Glenn Denning to explore the role of emerging biotechnology in developing sustainable agriculture systems and construct recommendations for research, policy, and investment. Sarah holds a B.S. in Biology from Duke University. Sarah was an intern at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama Administration where she first became interested in biotechnology regulation and global food security.

Winslow Hansen (2018-2020 Cohort)

Winslow Hansen is a forest and ecosystem ecologist. His research seeks to understand whether forests will remain resilient to accelerating environmental change, where and why forest resilience may be eroded, and how novel forests will reorganize from the ashes of old systems. He is particularly interested in two areas: cross-scale interactions and feedbacks in forest ecosystems, including effects of forest change on continental-scale climate patterns, and how changing forest ecosystems can be sustainably managed. In much of his research, Winslow uses Alaskan boreal forest as his study system. Winslow earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he used large-scale experiments, field observation, and computer simulation to identify the mechanisms underpinning postfire resilience of subalpine forests in Yellowstone National Park. He also holds degrees from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (M.S.) and University of Montana (B.A.).

J. Nicolas Hernandez-Aguilera (2018-2020 Cohort)

Nicolas received his Ph.D. in Applied Economics and Management from Cornell University. While there, he focused on sustainable agriculture of coffee and led diverse multidisciplinary research projects where he evaluated the impacts of smallholders’ participation in specialty coffee value-chains. In addition, he modeled profitable agro-ecological cropping systems that preserve bird populations. At the Earth Institute, he will be integrated to the Columbia’s World Project: “Adapting Agriculture to Climate Today, for Tomorrow” (ACToday). Working with Drs. Daniel Osgood and Walter Baethgen of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), his overarching goal is to identify mechanisms by which tropical-agriculture farmers adapt to increasing climate variability. In particular, his research seeks to: (1) Understand the required incentives to adopt specific production and land-use practices and (2) Evaluate how climate and financial information affect grower’s individual and collective decisions. Nicolas also holds degrees from University of Pittsburgh (M.P.A./Fulbright Fellow) and Universidad de los Andes-Colombia (B.A., M.Sc.). Web page:

Spencer Hill (2019-2021 Cohort)

Spencer is a climate scientist specializing in tropical atmospheric dynamics. His work as an Earth Institute Postdoc focuses on the Indian Monsoon, specifically on improving seasonal and interannual forecasts of monsoon rainfall and the communication of those forecasts to relevant local stakeholders in India. This work is advised by Michela Biasutti and Adam Sobel of Lamont/Columbia as part of a larger collaboration with the Indian Meteorological Department and relies on a combination of climate model simulations, theoretical work, and analyses of observational data. Before joining the Earth Institute, Spencer served as a postdoc appointed jointly at UCLA and Caltech, where he investigated monsoon and Hadley cell dynamics from a more strictly theoretical vantage. In his Ph.D. work at Princeton University, Spencer studied the Hadley cells and the West African Monsoon. Prior to that, he earned a B.S. with a double major in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Applied Mathematics from UCLA. He grew up in Kansas, in the suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri.

Kai Kornhuber (2018-2020 Cohort)

Kai Kornhuber received his Ph.D. in Climate Physics from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the University of Potsdam, Germany. His research is dedicated to internal mechanisms of the large-scale atmospheric circulation and their relation to extreme weather in the mid-latitudes. With a focus on atmosphere dynamics he investigates drivers, impacts, and future risks of extreme climatic events such as heatwaves, droughts, heavy rainfall, and floods. Currently, as part of the research group of Radley Horton he investigates future risks of simultaneous extreme weather events over breadbasket regions under different warming scenarios. Before joining Columbia University, Kai worked as a Postdoc at the Atmospheric Oceanic and Planetary Physics Department at the University of Oxford, as a Climate Scientist in the Science Team of Climate Analytics, and was a guest researcher at the Climate & Energy College/University of Melbourne. Kai sees public outreach about climate issues an important and inspiring element of his work. Find him @kkornhuber.

Megan Maurer (2018-2020 Cohort)

Megan Maurer is a cultural anthropologist specializing in cities and sustainability in the United States. Her research addresses concerns about urban life in an era of socioeconomic and ecological precarity by exploring the relationships between city-dwellers’ ethics, their desires for well-being, and their relationships to the urban environment and its inhabitants. Her dissertation examines the ways urban vegetable gardens and beehives are used to care for households, communities, and ecosystems in deindustrial Michigan. At the Earth Institute, Megan will work with Benjamin Orlove and Patricia Culligan to research the relationships between New Yorkers’ perceptions of green infrastructures, culturally-informed ideas of urbanism, and concerns about gentrification. Megan holds degrees in anthropology from the University of Kentucky (Ph.D.) and Kenyon College (B.A.).

Elisabeth Nébié (2018-2020 Cohort)

Elisabeth Nébié is a human ecologist. As an International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Borlaug Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Program (LEAP) fellow, Elisabeth conducted her dissertation research on farmer-herder livelihoods, challenges and adaptations in the Center-South region of Burkina Faso. Prior to earning her Ph.D. in Anthropology, Elisabeth consulted for UNESCO, ILRI and The Friends of Burkina Faso Network on climate-related projects in Burkina Faso. As an Earth Institute fellow, Elisabeth will work with Alessandra Giannini, Christopher Small and Ben Orlove to document the relationship between the “re-greening” of the West African Sahel and food security trends. Elisabeth received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She holds a M.A. in International Development and Social Change from Clark University and a B.A. in International Public Relations from Université Libre du Burkina.

Arturo Pacheco (2020-2022 Cohort)

Arturo Pacheco is a dendroclimatologist studying the climatic drivers of tree ring growth and its effects on wood anatomy. His PhD research in Forest Ecology from the University of Padua (Italy) focused on the formation of intra annual density fluctuations of Mediterranean tree species under drought conditions. Although most of his research focuses on Mediterranean species, alpine and artic species also form part of his expertise. At the Earth Institute he will be working with Dr. Laia Andreu-Hayles of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) Tree-Ring Lab, integrating within the ‘Collaborative Research: Reconstructing South American monsoon sensitivity to internal and external forcing: reconciling models and tree-ring proxies in the Central Andes’ and also participating of the NSF project ‘Climate Research Education in the Americas using Tree-Ring Speleothem Examples’ (PIRECREATE). Before joining Columbia University, Arturo worked as a Postdoc at the University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli (Italy) starting the Italian Tree Talker Network (ITT-Net) a state-of-the-art continuous large-scale monitoring of tree functional traits and vulnerabilities to climate change. He also holds degrees from the University of Bangor, United Kingdom (M.Sc.) and University of Costa Rica (B.Sc.).

Robbie Parks (2019-2021 Cohort)

I am an environmental epidemiologist. I am currently a post-doctoral research fellow at the Earth Institute, Columbia University, mentored by Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou at the Mailman School of Public Health. I am primarily interested in understanding the impact that climate, weather, and air pollution has on mortality, nutrition and disease outcomes, and how these impacts may be different in sub-groups of a population. I am also interested in developing new (particularly Bayesian) statistical methods, relevant to these concerns.

I also aim to use my research capacity to pursue linked goals of social and climate justice.

In 2019, I earned my Ph.D from Imperial College London, where I was supervised by Majid Ezzati and Ralf Toumi. I also hold an undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Oxford. In summer 2017, during my studies, I interned at the World Meteorological Organisation, a constituent part of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland. While interning, I became a founding member of the Global Heat Health Information Network.

I very much enjoy communicating my work to the public, and have been involved in several recent outreach projects, including in summer 2019 with GREEN SPACE.

I have also just received seed funding as PI from the highly competitive Earth Frontiers 2019 call, where I submitted a grant application along with world-renowned scientists at Columbia for projects covering 2020-2021.

I can be found on Twitter via @rmiparks.

Muye Ru (2020-2022 Cohort)

Muye Ru's work lies at the intersection of atmospheric science, human health, and economic impacts. Her postdoctoral fellowship at the Earth Institute focuses on quantifying uncertainty in the air -pollution-health-economy system, and its interaction with climate change impacts. She performs this research with Professor Wolfram Schlenker and Professor Arlene Fiore. Muye received her PhD in Earth and Ocean Science from Duke University on a related topic. Prior to her PhD, she received a B.S. in Resource management and a B.A. in Economics from Peking University in China, and a Master in Environmental Management from Duke University, focused on Energy and Environment. During her pre-doctoral study, she published several papers on the transition in residential energy and emissions in China. Muye was awarded the Scholarship for Sustainable Energy Development, supported by the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership in 2015. She attended the Young Scientist Summer Program in the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in 2019.

Beth Tellman (2019-2021 Cohort)

Beth is a human-environmental geographer, seeking to address the causes and consequences of global environmental change for vulnerable populations, with a focus on flood risk and land use change. At the Earth Institute, Beth is working with Daniel Osgood and Upmanu Lall to develop satellite based parametric flood insurance indices for cities. She is also supporting ACToday (“Adapting Agriculture to Climate Today, for Tomorrow”) in Bangladesh to examine and improve existing financial instruments to decrease flood impacts on food systems. Beth previously co-founded Cloud to Street, a public benefit corporation which leverages remote sensing data to build flood mapping and monitoring systems for low and middle income countries. She received her Ph.D. in Geography from Arizona State University, where she leveraged remote sensing data to quantify the role of illicit transactions in urbanization and deforestation in Mexico and Central America.

Cascade Tuholske (2020-2022 Cohort)

I am a human-environment geographer studying the nexus of climate change and urbanization. As an Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellow, I am working with Robert Chen and Alex de Sherbinin at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) to construct a globally extensive, longitudinal, and fine-scale synthesis of the intersection of extreme heat events, urban population growth, and the urban heat island effect. Our goal is to inform adaptation strategies that reduce the harmful and inequitable impacts of urban exposure to extreme heat. I also contribute to NASA's Human Planet Project, analyzing the use of gridded population datasets to measure and map progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

I received my PhD in Geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara. My dissertation focused on the intersection of urbanization, climate change, and food security in Africa. I published research assessing continental-scale urban population dynamics, as well as case-studies on household-level urban food security dynamics in large African cities. Other research projects included leveraging machine learning algorithms to classify satellite imagery to measure mangrove deforestation in Roatán, Honduras, designing a global-scale assessment of wastewater impacts on coastal ecosystems, and working with medical researchers to track the 2015 Zika outbreak.

To learn more, I am on Twitter @tuholske.

Liv Yoon (2019-2021 Cohort)

Liv Yoon obtained her Ph.D. at The University of British Columbia in Canada where she studied intersections of environmental politics, communication, and social inequality surrounding an Olympic-related development project. As an attempt to do public sociology, she produced a short documentary about the controversial development of a ski hill in South Korea for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic & Paralympic Games. As a postdoctoral research scholar at the Earth Institute, Liv plans to explore the socio-political dimensions and lived experiences of Just Transition. Using a participatory documentary process, she hopes to produce a documentary with community members to make these successful cases of communities in transition more visible, and mobilize knowledge gained from them. The broader aim is to grapple with questions of power and inequities, and to envision alternative political and environmental futures.

Sha Zhou (2018-2020 Cohort)

Sha Zhou received her Ph.D. in Hydraulic Engineering from Tsinghua University, China. She has broad research interests, including water resources management, carbon and water cycling, and atmosphere-biosphere interactions. Her Ph.D. dissertation focused on terrestrial water use efficiency and its application for evapotranspiration partitioning. She proposed a new partitioning method to separate plant transpiration from evaporation. This method could help determine the actual water requirement for both societal and natural ecological systems and reduce irrigation water loss via evaporation. Her proposed work in the Earth Institute aims to improve water productivity and resilience of the societal-ecological system in water catchments. She will develop a global database of actual water demand and a knowledge base for catchment management to underpin global sustainable water management.