Jaime Benavides, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Jaime completed his PhD in environmental engineering at Polytechnic University of Catalonia in the department of Earth Sciences at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center. His doctoral research focused on the development and application of a street-level air quality model for Barcelona, Spain. His primary research interests are in understanding the link between environmental exposures and human health in urban settings. At Columbia, he is applying novel methods to find patterns in urban environmental exposure mixtures aiming to investigate the impact of these patterns on adverse health outcomes. He is also involved in improving air pollution exposure assessment for large-scale population-wide epidemiologic studies.

Jaime Cascante Vega

Staff Associate

Jaime is Colombian and received his MSc and BSc from the Biomedical Engineering Department from Universidad de los Andes. His research interests lie in the intersection with mathematical modelling as a tool for understanding complex ecological and epidemiological phenomena and deep learning and statistical techniques as a tool for extracting hierarchical features of different data-sources and infer key parameters of the models. His previous research focused on developing mathematical models to forecast community spread and mortality of SARS-CoV2. He has also worked on developing theoretical models to include mechanisms behind the role of behaviour in traditional epidemiological models. At Columbia University, he is working on understanding the time-space spread on antimicrobial resistant (AR) pathogens, specifically of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) using mathematical models combined with inference to better prevent, control, and forecast this healthcare associated infections (HAIs). He will also help in the simulation and forecast of the spread of SARS-CoV2 at population scales.

Marta Galanti, Phd

Postdoctoral 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.

Abhishek Kar, phd

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Abhishek obtained his doctorate in Resources, Environment and Sustainability from the University of British Columbia. He received his MBA from Indian Institute of Forest Management after completing BSc in Physics from Calcutta University. He was previously a Research Fellow at the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), an Indian think-tank. He is currently an ISEP (Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy) Fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and was selected in the 2018 Young Scientists Summer Program at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). Over the last twelve years, his multi-disciplinary research experience spans aerosols, human behavior, and policy analysis related to household air pollution in specific and energy access in general. His doctoral dissertation entailed application of classical behavior change theories in conjunction with large consumer behavior datasets to better understand clean cooking energy transitions. His research findings have been shared widely on social media, including by the Prime Minister of India, and covered at the front page of major Indian newspapers. He has embarked upon the journey of writing a book on India’s Ujjwala program to promote cooking gas. At Columbia, Abhishek is working with Dr. Darby Jack on a clean cooking intervention project in Ghana. His current research efforts involve application of eddy covariance method to measure pollution levels at community scale and using epidemiological data to assess the health impact of local cooking practices. 


Study Manager

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. 

Yanelli Nunez, phd

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Yanelli Nunez earned her PhD in Environmental Health Science at Columbia University and her BS in Biology with a focus on neuroscience and a minor in Public Health from San Diego State University. She is an environmental epidemiologist and her primary research interest is on understating the adverse effects air pollution has on the nervous system. She is also interested in mixture methods and their incorporation into environmental epidemiology. Her doctoral research examined the association between exposure to fine particulate matter and particle components with clinical disease aggravation of neurodegenerative diseases. As a fellow in the Climate and Health program, she is working on identifying sources of air pollution mixtures and the association of such sources with adverse neurological outcomes using novel pattern recognition methods.

Georgette Owusu-Amankwah, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Georgette holds a doctoral degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Kentucky. Her research interest is primarily in Development and Health Economics. Her doctoral research examined constraints that have hindered the ‘buy-local’ policy mandate of the Ghana School Lunch program, and explored gendered agricultural technology adoption and contract participation strategies that could facilitate the policy mandate. Georgette’s current research with Drs. Darby and Kelsey Jack examines viable clean energy sources, household adoption and use decisions, and the health impacts of cleaner fuels in Ghana, with interventions to support community-level adoption and sustained use of clean household energy technologies.

Robbie Parks, phd

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Robbie earned his PhD from Imperial College London and an undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Oxford. He is an environmental epidemiologist whose primary interests are 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. He is also interested in developing new (particularly Bayesian) statistical methods, relevant to these concerns. In summer 2017, during his studies, he interned at the World Meteorological Organisation, a constituent part of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland. While interning, he became a founding member of the Global Heat Health Information Network.

Tal Robin

Postdoctoral research scientist

Tal received his PhD from the Department of Physical Chemistry at Tel-Aviv University for his work on stochastic approaches to the analysis of kinetic schemes. His previous work included models of enzymatic reactions, adhesion, and pollination with emphasis on intuitive modeling. His main interests are stochastic processes, agent-based modeling, and statistical inference. At Columbia, Tal is working on a network-based model of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens spreading within hospitals in an effort to extract accurate estimations of model parameters and identifying individuals with increased risk. This work's aim is to advance knowledge about specific infections as well as the methods themselves.

Weilu Wang, phd

Adjunct Associate Research Scientist

Weilu received his PhD in Ecology at the University of China Academy of Science, Beijing. He is interested in health impacts related to rising carbon dioxide levels, and associated climate change events, including changes in temperature and drought. His previous research evaluated the influences of elevated CO2 and temperature on rice quality in central China. He is currently working with Dr. Ziska on developing a model to appraise the effects of CO2 and climate change on food security in China and the Sahelian region of Africa with a focus on anticipated changes in nutritional quality and health outcomes.


Associate 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.