Ruthie birger, phd

Earth Institute Post-Doctoral Fellow

Ruthie Birger conducted her PhD research in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. She focused on HIV-Hepatitis C coinfection dynamics, using mathematical models to describe both within-patient biological processes and epidemiological impacts of public health interventions. As an Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia, Ruthie will be building on these modeling methods and applying them in an effort to understand the interplay between coinfection with various pathogens and the emergence and evolution of drug resistance in populations and individuals. One of the main goals of this research will be to improve estimates of the scale of the growing problem of drug resistance, in particular in the context of global urbanization.

Zachary Burt, PhD

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow

Zachary Burt earned his PhD at the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley in 2015. He is interested in the techno-social systems which manufacture and allocate risk, and how these play out in the water and sanitation systems of low, middle and high income countries. He has researched the costs and benefits of urban water service improvements, willingness to pay for household water treatment and gender inequities in sanitation access. He has conducted field research in India, Tanzania, and Kenya, and assessed urban water policies in California, India and Kenya. At Columbia, Zach researches efficient, effective and equitable ways of incorporating climate risk into urban water management policy in low income countries, especially focusing on water and sanitation access for marginalized groups.

Jesus Cantu

Research associate

Jesus received his BA in Sociology from Princeton University and is the Martinez Lab Manager and Research Associate. He is interested in transmission dynamics and control of infectious diseases, as well as implementation of cutting-edge epidemiological/ statistical modelling in the analysis of big data for use in population health management. His previous research has focused on measuring the impact of migration on varicella transmission along the USMexico border. He analyzed the relationship between changing infant vaccination and breastfeeding rates and the incidence of flu-related hospitalizations among US children. At Columbia, he is building a dynamic transmission model to estimate the efficacy of the varicella vaccine. 

Katherine Crocker, phd

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow

Katherine Crocker earned her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan. There, she developed crickets as a model system to research the mechanisms and consequences of inherited nongenetic effects, particularly those resulting from dietary stress and social conditions. Now a fellow in the Climate and Health Program, she is working to identify effects of food insecurity and parental stress on the descendants of the stressed individuals. Katherine’s current work combines computational epigenetics (using human-generated data) with laboratory studies on vertebrate and invertebrate species. The central goal of her work is to identify environmental risk factors that can have disproportionately negative future effects, which in turn can be used to inform public health policy and approaches.

Marta Galanti, Phd

Post-Doctoral Research Scientist

Marta Galanti completed her PhD research in Complex Systems and Mathematical Physics in a shared program between University of Florence (Italy) and University of Orléans (France). Her previous research focused on the analysis of diffusion-reaction processes in biological and industrial media in non-ideal conditions (complex geometries and crowded environments). At Columbia, she is working on developing mathematical models to generate predictions and advance the understanding and forecast of infections.  One of the goal of her research will be to study respiratory virus transmission with the aim of incorporating antigenic information of rapidly evolving viruses into real-time forecasts of influenza.

Maryam Karimi

Maryam Karimi, PhD

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow

Maryam completed her PhD at the Graduate Center of City University of New York in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science in 2016 and worked on a NOAA funded project focusing on urban heat island impact on human health. While working on her PhD dissertation, she also received funding for her proposal on quantification of near surface temperature fluctuations from NASA Develop, a program that funds integrates NASA earth observations with society to foster future innovation and cultivate the professionals of tomorrow. Her research has focused on understanding the structure of cities and temperature variations caused by surface changes in urban areas. She is working on developing models to predict environmental risk and social vulnerability. In addition, she is focused on the identification of environmental risk and social vulnerability associated with UHI and air pollution. She will be developing an air quality social and environmental vulnerability impact index to help identify population and neighborhoods that are at higher risks of vulnerability based on their socioeconomic status, living condition and neighborhood. 

Jacqueline Leung, phd

Post-Doctoral Research Scientist

Jacqueline earned her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University.  She is interested in understanding why hosts are so heterogeneous in their immune responses to infection.  Her doctoral research examined ecological interactions between helminths and microbes in the vertebrate gut and their consequences for host health and disease.  At Columbia, she is characterizing seasonal and circadian rhythms in the human immune system to determine whether functional changes in immune responses occur throughout the year that may impact susceptibility to disease.


Program Coordinator

Haruka received her MPH from the Mailman School of Public Health and her BS in Biology from Lehigh University. She is interested in health impacts of various climate change events, and her previous work includes a health impact assessment on cardiopulmonary outcomes due global PM2.5 pollution from the aviation sector. With Dr. Shaman, she is currently working on developing a model to forecast influenza using data from municipal departments of health as well as analyzing viral respiratory infection data for the "Virome of Manhattan" project. 

Sen Pei, PhD

Post-Doctoral Research Scientist

Sen received his PhD degree in Mathematics from Beihang University (Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics) in Beijing, China. His previous research focused on the modeling and empirical study of spreading dynamics in social networks, including information propagation and outbreaks of infectious diseases. At Columbia, he is examining the predictability of the nonlinear dynamics of influenza transmission and developing skillful ensemble-based prediction systems for infectious diseases.

Brittany Shea, MA

Project Director

Brittany Shea is the Project Director for the Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education (GCCHE) at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Brittany received a master’s degree in Sustainability and Environmental Management from Harvard University where she completed her master’s thesis on water quality issues associated with hydraulic fracturing, and a bachelor’s degree from Boston University.

Before starting at the GCCHE, Brittany was a Project Coordinator for the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health. She has also worked at Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies in Santiago, Chile on strategy and development projects, and as a Research Associate at Harvard Business School, focusing on corporate accountability, sustainability, and leadership research.

Minhaz Ud-Dean, PhD

Post-Doctoral Research Scientist

Minhaz studied Biotechnology at University of Dhaka. There he developed a biophysical model for the stability of airborne virus. Later he completed an Erasmus Mundus joint masters program at Delft University of Technology and at University of Jena. His doctorate was in chemical engineering on inferability and inference of gene regulatory networks at ETH Zurich. Further, he contributed to the interpretation and standardization of metabolomics data at Tuebingen University. At Columbia, Minhaz is developing multi-factorial models for transmission of airborne virus.


Post-Doctoral Research Scientist

Teresa completed her PhD in hydrology at MIT in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  Her research interests lie at the intersection of environment and infectious disease, with a focus on vector-borne disease.  Her doctoral research explored the relationships between climate, entomology, and malaria transmission in West Africa using a framework of detailed mechanistic modeling.  This framework was used to assess the impacts of climate change on malaria transmission.  At Columbia, she is developing transmission models for dengue and other vector-borne diseases to be used in conjunction with data assimilation methods to generate ensemble-based forecasts of disease outbreaks.