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.

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.).

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.

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.

James Jones (2018-2020 Cohort)

James Jones conducted his Ph.D. research in the economics department at the University of Hawaii – Manoa. His research focuses on the empirical relationship between weather, pollutant emissions, and outdoor air pollution levels in the United States. At the Earth Institute, James will work with Professors Wolfram Schlenker and Richard Seager to continue this research. This project will model the changes in outdoor air pollution that result from climate change to help quantify the impacts of climate change and emissions reductions policies. This project will also develop better understanding of the linkages between weather and pollution as well as the associated health impacts.

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.

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.

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.

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.).

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.

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.