Staff

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.

KATRIN BURKART, PHD

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
kgb2117@cumc.columbia.edu

Katrin Burkart received her doctorate from the Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. Her major research interests focus on the effects of weather and climate on human health. She is particularly interested in how these effects are modified by different atmospheric and non-atmospheric influences. Her current research aims at projecting future heat-related mortality in Bangladesh under different climate change scenarios, considering trends such as population aging, urbanization and epidemiological transition. 

Zachary Burt, PhD

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
zb2119@cumc.columbia.edu

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.

DEVON COMITO, PHD

Laboratory Technician
dc3191@cumc.columbia.edu

Devon Comito received her BS in Biology and MS in Physiological Science from UCLA. Her previous research focused on neuroendocrinology and avian biology. At Columbia, she will be studying respiratory virus transmission as she helps work on the “Virome of Manhattan” project.

NICHOLAS DEFELICE, PHD

Post-Doctoral Research Scientist
nbd2113@cumc.columbia.edu

Nicholas DeFelice completed his doctorate in environmental science and engineering at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. His dissertation research examined the intersection of infrastructure, environmental exposures, and public health by constructing mathematical models to quantify the burden of disease attributable to exposure to contaminated drinking water in North Carolina. Through these models, he explored how changes in public policies affect the probability of harm from contamination. At Columbia, his work focus is the development of dynamic disease transmission models in conjunction with data assimilation methods to generate ensemble-based predictions of West Nile virus and other vector-borne infectious diseases.

Marta Galanti, Phd

Post-Doctoral Research Scientist
mg3822@cumc.columbia.edu

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.

Melissa Gervais, PhD

Post-Doctoral Research Scientist
mg3663@cumc.columbia.edu

Melissa Gervais completed her PhD at McGill University in the Dept. of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. She is interested in the remote influences of high-latitude climate change on sensible weather. At Columbia, Melissa plans to conduct global climate model experiments to investigate the dynamical mechanisms by which changes in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures may impact European winter weather. Other research interests include the dynamical impact of western Arctic sea ice loss on North American weather and the attribution of extreme weather events to climate change. 

sadiat ibrahim, MPH

Study Coordinator
sai2117@cumc.columbia.edu

Sadiat Ibrahim obtained her Medical Degree from Igbinedion University Okada, Nigeria in 2012. She has since practiced medicine as a Medical officer in the biggest General Hospital in Lagos, Nigeria, after which she served as the only Medical Doctor in a Primary Healthcare center in Lagos. She completed her MPH degree in the General Public Health department at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in 2016.  With Dr. Shaman, she has worked as a research assistant for his study; “The Virome of Manhattan: A Testbed for Radically Advancing Understanding and Forecast of Viral Respiratory Infections”, helping with data entry, swabbing and offering surveys to study participants at the American Museum of Natural History. She currently acts as one of the Study Coordinators on this three-year project.

Maryam Karimi, PhD

Maryam KarimiPost-Doctoral Research Fellow
mek224@cumc.columbia.edu

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. 

Benjamin lane

Laboratory Technician 
bvl2110@cumc.columbia.edu

Ben graduated from the University of Vermont in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology.  He previously worked at the CDC developing an In Situ hybridization assay to enhance the detection of the bacterium Streptobacillus Moniliformis in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue samples. At Columbia, he is working as a research technician to advance the understanding and forecast of viral respiratory infections in Manhattan.

W. VICTORIA LEE, PHD

Earth Institute Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
wvl2103@cumc.columbia.edu

Victoria Li received her PhD in Architecture from the University of Cambridge. Her dissertation focused on exploring new ways to assess and predict the indoor thermal environment, with a particular interest in health implications. Her current research will examine the association between building types and heat-related health consequences.

chanel ligon

Laboratory Technician 
cl3554@cumc.columbia.edu

Chanel Ligon received her BA in Biology at Swarthmore College. Previous research projects include developing a reporter mycobacteriophage to diagnose Mycobacterium Tuberculosis and exploring heart progenitor cell development in Ciona Intestinalis. At Columbia, she is working as a Research Technician on the “Virome of Manhattan” project, which focuses on the transmission and incidence of respiratory viruses in an urban environment.

HARUKA MORITA, MPH, CPH

Program Coordinator
hm2487@cumc.columbia.edu

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
sp3449@cumc.columbia.edu

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.

JULIA REIS, PHD

Post-Doctoral Research Scientist
jsr2173@columbia.edu

Julia Reis completed her doctorate in water resources engineering at the University of Virginia. She developed simulation and optimization models of hydropower reservoirs in Lao PDR and Ethiopia, and used these tools to analyze interventions for improving rural livelihoods and health. As one research area, she targeted malaria transmission originating from a water reservoir and analyzed the water resources implications of a proposed intervention under the influence of climate change. Julia is interested in developing mathematical models, using particle filters and other data assimilation methods, to generate skillful, ensemble-based predictions of influenza and other infectious diseases.

Brittany Shea, MA

Project Director 
bes2161@cumc.columbia.edu

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.

Atinuke Shittu, MPH

Study Coordinator 
aas2301@cumc.columbia.edu

Atinuke Shittu obtained her medical degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria in 2013. She completed her medical internship at the premier tertiary hospital in Nigeria, the University College Hospital, Ibadan in 2014, after which she proceeded to work as a community physician in Ilesa, a town Southwestern Nigeria. In 2016, she completed her MPH degree in the Health Policy and Management at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. With Dr. Shaman, she has worked as a research assistant for his study; “The Virome of Manhattan: A Testbed for Radically Advancing Understanding and Forecast of Viral Respiratory Infections”, helping with data entry, swabbing and offering surveys to study participants at the American Museum of Natural History. She currently acts as one of the Study Coordinators on this three-year project

eudosie tagne, Mph

Study Cooridinator

est2123@cumc.columbia.edu

Eudosie Tagne holds a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Bamako in Mali, and a Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. She served the medically disadvantaged population in Africa as a physician, and showed an early interest in preventive medicine with a focus in infectious diseases. Over the years, she worked on different projects targeting infectious diseases such as poliomyelitis, malaria, HIV, and Tuberculosis. With Dr. Shaman, she currently acts as project coordinator for “The Virome of Manhattan: A Testbed for Radically Advancing Understanding and Forecast of Viral Respiratory Infections.”

Minhaz Ud-Dean, PhD

Post-Doctoral Research Scientist 
su2215@cumc.columbia.edu

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.

TERESA YAMANA, PHD

Post-Doctoral Research Scientist
tky2104@cumc.columbia.edu

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.

Wan Yang, PhD

Associate Research Scientist
wy2202@cumc.columbia.edu

Wan Yang received her PhD in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech, and her research focused on the transmission of influenza A virus in indoor environments. Currently, she is working on developing data-model assimilation systems for real-time forecast of influenza, under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Shaman.