Earth Institute Staff Directory

Professor Patricia J. Culligan

Robert A.W. and Christine S. Carleton Professor of Civil Engineering , The Earth Institute


B-16 Hogan Hall
Mail Code MC3277
2910 Broadway
New York, NY 10025

BIOGRAPHY: Patricia J. Culligan explores novel, interdisciplinary solutions to the challenges of urbanization, with a particular emphasis on the City of New York. Her research investigates the opportunities for green infrastructure, social networks, and advanced measurement and sensing technologies to improve urban water, energy, and environmental management. She is co-Director of a $12 million research network sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop new models for urban infrastructure to make cities cleaner, healthier, and more enjoyable places to live. Culligan also has expertise in geo-environmental engineering and nuclear waste management and has been actively engaged in research focused on the safe containment of hazardous wastes as well as the identification and remediation of contaminated groundwater. She is the founding associate director of Columbia University’s Data Science Center and a faculty member of the Earth Institute. Of particular interest to Culligan is the development and use of novel experimental techniques, field observations and modeling approached to advance discovery. She is engaged in a multi-year, field-monitoring program of urban green roofs, which aims to understand the role of green infrastructure in urban stormwater management and climate resilience. She is also engaged in a study to monitor energy consumption in multi-family residential buildings in order to understand what type of feedback on consumption motivates building residents to conserve energy. She has developed multiple new experimental techniques to improve understanding of the fundamental mechanisms governing water and contaminant flows in soils and aquifer systems. She has also developed a multi-scale model for colloidal transport in porous media that explains pathogen transport in groundwater systems. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of Culligan’s works, she collaborates with a wide variety of other researchers, including those with expertise in urban design, policy, micro-biology, ecology and geochemistry, among many others.

Culligan received a BSc (Hons) in civil engineering from the University of Leeds, England in 1982, and an M.Phil and PhD in Engineering from the University of Cambridge, England in 1985 and 1989, respectively. She also received a Diplome de Langue, Literature et Civilization (avec Mention) from the Université d’Aix-Marseille III in 1993. Culligan has served on the National Academies Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board as well as on the Board of Governors of the ASCE’s Geo-Institute. She has also Chaired the National Academies standing committee on Geological and Geotechnical Engineering.