News Archive

posted 10/01/04

Students From Five Continents Begin Ph.D. in Sustainable Development Program

Sustainable Development is critically important because many of the most important policy challenges facing the planet require a central focus on sustainability and development. Columbia University’s new Ph.D. in Sustainable Development program began this fall with six students from five continents and backgrounds in economics, environmental studies, chemistry and international development.

"I was attracted to the program because of its focus on using science and economics together to address some of the problems currently facing humanity," said incoming Ph.D. candidate Lily Parshall. "This seemed like a program rooted in the reality of today."

Led by international economists and Columbia professors Jeffrey Sachs and Joseph Stiglitz, the program reflects their understanding about what is necessary to build a prosperous and sustainable future for all the world’s citizens. Grounded in a graduate-level curriculum of micro and macroeconomics, the program integrates a rigorous core curriculum with a set of elective courses in ecology, earth science, engineering or public health, and a comprehensive series of fundamental social science and public policy courses. more information

The following are short biographies of the first Ph.D. in Sustainable Development class:

Saifedean Ammous
Ammous attended American University of Beirut and the London School of Economics. His research interests include international aid and trade structures; the role of science and technology in sustainable development; energy policy and alternative energy sources. He was born in Palestine, and spent his childhood in Saudi Arabia and Brazil, before moving back to Palestine. He did his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering in the American University of Beirut, and earned a Master's degree in Development Management in the London School of Economics. He has been active politically in several causes, most significantly the Palestinian struggle for freedom, and has done volunteer teaching in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, as well as worked in the media in several capacities.

Jessica Barnes
Barnes graduated with a BA in Geography from Oxford University in 2000. Since then she has pursued her interests in environmental management and rural development, focusing on the Middle East region. Jessica spent six months working as a research assistant for an environmental research institute in Bethlehem, West Bank, and the following summer worked as a UNDP intern on a biodiversity conservation project in Lebanon. She also spent a year in Syria, studying Arabic and working part time in the Ministry of Agriculture on a UNDP project to address problems of desertification. In May, 2004, Jessica obtained her Masters in Environmental Management from the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale.

mo ji

Mo Ji

Mo Ji
Mo Ji attended University of Pittsburg where she received her M.A. in Applied Statistics, 2004. Previously, she attended Peking University and earned her M.A. in Economics, 2002. Her undergraduate studies were at Renmin University where she received her B.A.Economics, 1999. Her research interests: are in economic development particularly in Asia.

Daiju Narita
University Attended: University of Tokyo; Degree Awarded: B.S. Chemistry, 1997; M.S. Chemistry 1999

Narita’s academic background is atmospheric chemistry, where he did research on transport of pollution (e.g. tropospheric ozone and carbon monoxide) over East Asia. In addition, he worked for the Japanese government for five years mainly dealing with science and technology policy. He is currently interested in how to optimize a national R&D policy for addressing the global climate change problems.

Jose Orihuela
A Peruvian national, Jose holds a BA in Economics (PUCP-Peru, 1996) and a MPA in International Development (Harvard, 2002). He graduated with a paper on "Fiscal Rules for Municipal Decentralization in Peru." Previously, he served as economic analyst of Apoyo Comunicaciones (1997), consultant at the Ministry of Transportation - Office of Roads Concessions (1997-98), and consultant at the Ministry of Finance - Office of Public Investments (1999-00). His research interests include rules for decentralization; economics of institutions; development for the Andean poor, property rights and social cohesion.

Lily Parshall

Lily Parshall

Lily Parshall
Parshall graduated cum laude from Columbia College with a degree in Environmental Science in 2001. Following this, she worked briefly for the City of New Rochelle on a greenhouse gas emissions inventory and energy efficiency policy and then spent two years teaching outdoor education and environmental science at the American Community School in Beirut. Between 2003 and 2004, she worked as a research assistant in the Center for Climate Systems Research, a division of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, where she studied the effects of green, vegetated roofs on New York City's heat island, climate, stormwater runoff, and energy use.

The Earth Institute at Columbia University is among the world’s leading academic centers for the integrated study of Earth, its environment, and society. The Earth Institute builds upon excellence in the core disciplines—earth sciences, biological sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and health sciences—and stresses cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems. Through its research, training and global partnerships, it mobilizes science and technology to advance sustainable development, while placing special emphasis on the needs of the world’s poor.