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Earth Institute Student Research Showcase 2014

Earth Institute Student Research Showcase 2014

The Earth Institute, Columbia University is committed to showcasing student research in the areas of environment and sustainable development. On April 25th, the Earth Institute brought together undergraduate, graduate and PhD students at the annual Earth Institute Student Research Conference. Students discussed their unique research experiences of working to understand and solve pressing environmental and sustainable development issues. A short video featuring students was shown, with an introduction by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, followed by a poster Q&A reception.

All of the projects are conducted by students who have received support, guidance or funding through an Earth Institute affiliated education or student program including a travel grant, internship, or research assistantship from the Institute.

Archived Video

Biodiversity

 

Francesca Audia

Francesca Audia, originally from Metro Detroit, is a third year student in the Dual B.A. Program between Columbia University and Sciences Po. At Sciences Po, where she studied from Fall 2011 through Spring 2013, she specialized in law and political science. At Columbia, where she has been studying since Fall 2013, Francesca is majoring in sustainable development. Francesca has interned at various startups throughout this time, and her most recent work experience is as a research assistant at the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions. After college, Francesca hopes to either attend graduate school or begin a career in sustainability consulting.
Advisor: Tanya O’Garra
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Marisol Diaz

Marisol was born in Peru, she completed a part of her undergraduate work in Florida and now she is concluding her postbaccalaureate certificate in Conservation Biology at Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She is interested in applying to graduate programs in order to study marine conservation and ecology, while using community-driven and oceanographic tools to teach the public.
Advisor: Joaquim Goes
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Erin Eastwood

Erin is a first-year MA student in the Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology Department’s Conservation Biology program. She has been involved with marine science and conservation for about 5 years now, doing everything from scrubbing tanks and chopping up fish guts as an Aquarist Intern at the Aquarium of the Pacific, to conducting her own research on the visual capacities of reef damselfish on the Great Barrier Reef. She is now specifically focused on marine conservation efforts in the South Pacific, and for her thesis work she is investigating the population dynamics of five fishery-targeted species in Fiji to help inform the spatial design of a protected area network in the country.
Advisor: Josh Drew

 

 

Kayla Farrell

Kayla is a student at Barnard College, class of 2016 majoring in Environmental Science. The title of her project is Enterococci in the Hudson River: Sources of Contamination at 125th Street: Environmental Issues and Policy Recommendations for the Waterfront Development in Manhattanville. Her project looks at Enterococcus levels in the Hudson River in relation to a variety of factors such as recent rainfall, water/air temperature, salinity, the state of the tides/currents, and time of year. She has been working on the project since May 2013 and I she looks forward to continuing her work in order to use the data from this project to help current and future scientists and policymakers establish the best path in bringing about cleaner water in the Hudson River.
Advisor: Peter Bower
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Elora Lopez

Elora López is a junior at Columbia College majoring in environmental biology (ecology and evolution track). She uses genetic sequencing to study evolutionary relationships among slow lorises, primates native to Southeast Asia, at the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics in the American Museum of Natural History. She will be conducting fieldwork in Fiji this summer with the Drew Lab for her senior thesis project on the genetic connectivity of the bandedtail goatfish. Elora is a vice president of the Columbia University Environmental Biology Society (CUEBS) and a member of Columbia’s Chicano Caucus.
Advisor: Josh Drew
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Katherine Orrick

Katherine Orrick is currently a Masters candidate for 2015 at Columbia University in the Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology Department. After graduating from Colby College in 2010 with a degree in Environmental Science she spent three years living in South Africa on a private game reserve conducting large carnivore research. She then left South Africa to pursue her thesis looking at human-wildlife conflict and road ecology in African ecosystems.
Advisor: Josh Drew
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Natalia A. Rossi

As Ph.D. Candidate at Columbia University and Program Fellow at the Latin America and Caribbean Program at the Wildlife Conservation Society, Natalia A. Rossi has coordinated crocodile research activities in Cuba since 2009. The species she works with, the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), is primarily a coastal crocodilian widely distributed along the coastal swamps, estuarine rivers, lakes and reservoirs of the Neotropical Region of the Americas. in close collaboration with local researchers and communities, Natalia’s research aims to help conserve and manage American crocodiles and the key remaining Caribbean mangrove ecosystems they inhabit.
Advisor: Josh Ginsberg
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Climate Change

 

Dorthy Fang

Dorthy Fang received a spring research assistantship position at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She is a freshman at Columbia College majoring in Environmental Biology and is a member of Columbia Eco-Reps’ Living Green Committee, Columbia’s Wushu team and is a cellist in Columbia’s Bach Society.
Advisor: William D'Andrea
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Allison Hooks

Allison Hooks is a Columbia College student, class of 2016. She is majoring in environmental science and is interested in studying climate change, short-term climate variability and water resources. Allison is from Austin, Texas and enjoys reading and playing volleyball.
Advisor: Richard Seager
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Zhibek Issakyzy

Zhibek Issakyzy is an International Student from Almaty, Kazakhstan, studying under the governmental scholarship “Bolashak” at the School of General Studies, Columbia University. Junior, majoring in Earth Science and concentrating in Sustainable Development she is interested in climate change, wishes to combine knowledge and experience in this area received during the RA program at The Earth Institute, to deliver the most creative solution proposals to her country and the world.
Advisor: Xiaoshi Xing
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Monica Molina

Monica Molina is a senior in Columbia College graduating with a degree in Sustainable Development and Political Science. This is her second time interning with the Center for Climate Change Law. Last fall she worked for U.S. Senator Gillibrand in her constituent affairs department. At Columbia, she has served as a tour guide and been a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. Following graduation, she is pursuing an opportunity to work in solar energy in Santiago, Chile and hopes to pursue a career in climate change and energy law in the future.
Advisor: Meredith Wilensky
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Community Development

 

Valentina Acosta

Valentina Paiva-Acosta is a junior majoring in Civil Engineering at Columbia University. Valentina hails originally from Uruguay but has lived in New Jersey for more than a decade. She discovered her passion for environmental stewardship in high school when she became engrossed in the water quality issues plaguing New Jersey’s aquifers. She is now studying Water Resources engineering in the hopes of contributing to the international efforts to mitigate the global water crisis.
Advisor: Diana Hsueh
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Abigail Golden

Abigail Golden is a senior in Columbia College studying environmental biology with a concentration in English. She studies the community-based management of coral reefs in Fiji, with a focus on using the traditional ecological knowledge of male and female subsistence fishers to improve marine reserve design. She is also a freelance reporter for The Daily Beast and a member of the Earth Institute Student Advisory Council.
Advisor: Josh Drew
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Marouh Hussein

Marouh Hussein is pursuing her MPA in Development Practice at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Her primary interest is urban social inclusion, particularly creating inclusive urban food systems that promote nutritional empowerment, environmental sustainability and community mobilization. Outside of SIPA, Marouh works at Project Harmony, Inc., a non-profit in Central Harlem and assists with managing the Joseph Daniel Wilson Memorial Garden and holding community outreach events and educational workshops.
Advisor: Lynnette Widder
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Christophe Jospe

Christophe Jospe will graduate in May 2014 from the Environmental Science and Policy (ESP) MPA program at the School of International and Public Affairs. While at Columbia University, his research has focused on the nexus of the science, policies, and economics that drive solutions to climate change. Since joining the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy (LCSE) as a communications intern in September 2013, he has become inspired by the potential of Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage as a technological solution.
Advisor: Sara Tjossem
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David Lyons

David Lyons is a 3L at Columbia Law School. He has focused on environmental law at CLS, working with groups like the Environmental Law Society and the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law. He also interned with EPA Region 1 in Boston and has been a teaching assistant for undergraduates enrolled in Energy Law and Environmental Law. David grew up in Kansas City and developed a deep passion for environmental issues while exploring the great wildernesses of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
Advisor: Profs. Ed Lloyd and Susan Kraham
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Matthew Sienkiewicz

Matt is a Michigan native who studied history at the University of Michigan before spending a year serving as an AmeriCorps member, working in natural resources management on Cape Cod. As a JD candidate at Columbia Law School, Matt has continued to explore his interest in environmental questions through his course work and participation in the Environmental Law Society and the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law. Matt will be returning home to work in Michigan and hopes his practice will include environmental issues.
Advisor: Mary Cromer
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Earth Sciences

 

Victoria Cui

Victoria Cui is a member of the Class of 2015 at Columbia College majoring in Biology and Economics-Statistics. She is from Austin, Texas and is interested in infectious diseases epidemiology, developmental economics, and anything related to marine mammals. Her project focuses on utilizing acoustic data gathered as part of the WCS Ocean Giants program in the coastal waters near northern Angola in West Africa, a region with active oil and gas exploration. These data are hoped to provide insight on the abundance of whales in the area and possible anthropogenic impacts of coastal development.
Advisor: Melinda Rekdahl
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Health

 

Alexandra Koenig

Lexa Koenig will graduate from Columbia in May 2014 with a B.A. in Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies and Sustainable Development. Her academic work in these area studies and three years studying Swahili was rewarded with an Academic Year Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship. Most recently, she received a Summer Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship and the Leitner Family Student Fellowship to study Swahili in Mombasa through Yale. Lexa was Co-President of GlobeMed at Columbia, a student-run non-profit partnering with GWED-G, a grassroots NGO in Uganda, to sponsor an HIV prevention and maternal health project.
Advisor: Derek Willis
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International Development

 

Kristina Alnes

Kristina is a recent graduate from Sustainability Management program and is currently conducting research for the Research Program on Sustainability Policy and Management. Before coming to Columbia, Kristina managed projects promoting organic agriculture in Norway. She also has experience consulting for both the private and public sector. Kristina holds a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University.
Advisor: Satyajit Bose
View Presentation (Part 1 / Part 2)

 

 

Mason BenYair

Mason BenYair is a graduate with honors of Columbia University’s Sustainable Development program with a concentration in environmental engineering. Bringing more than 10 years of experience in financial analysis to his work, he has focussed on identifying systemic improvements to existing environmental frameworks. His work at Columbia has included the development of a nutrient recycling system to address the problem of eutrophication as it relates to runoff farm pollutants. For his thesis, ”Deep Sea High Pressure Desalination,” Mason designed a prototype for a low-cost, low-energy desalination system which can reduce the cost of desalination by up to 90% and has the potential to revolutionize the fundamental processes of the industry.
Advisor:
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Jessica Bollinger

Jess is pursuing her M.S. in Sustainability Management through the Earth Institute at Columbia University and expects to graduate in February 2015. As an undergraduate, she studied International Relations and Spanish at Tufts University, with a concentration on Europe and the former Soviet Union. Jess currently works with the Resiliency Team at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability and Solar One, a renewable energy education non-profit.
Advisor: Lynnette Widder
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Brooke Braswell

Brooke Braswell is a 2nd year Master of International Affairs Candidate at the School of International and Public Affairs. Her studies focus on gender and peacebuilding in the Middle East and South-­â€Central Asia region. She has researched throughout the Middle East, especially Iraq, working on the impact of women and gender minorities in conflict situations. This year, she has worked on her Capstone with the Office of the Vice President of the U.S. on policy in Afghanistan. Specifically, she is researching the complicated situation of development aid and building sustainable economies.
Advisor:  
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Le Chen

Le Chen is a student at the School of International and Public Affairs, class of 2014 studying Development Practice. Le's project, South Africa Security Tracker will develop and refine a methodology that attempts to capture information that addresses the question: “What is the extent and nature of township protests in South Africa?” The goal of the project is also to evaluate the most appropriate method for consolidating information on protests from different media sources while considering reliability of sources and external validity of data.
Advisor: Anne Nelson
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Janice Dean

Janice Dean is currently pursuing her degree of a Master’s in Public Administration in Development Practice at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) in Columbia University. Prior to SIPA, she gained experience in the areas of ethnographic research, education, refugee resettlement. She is excited about leveraging ICT for education, humanitarian assistance and monitoring and evaluation.
Advisor: Anne Nelson
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Aleena Farishta

Aleena Farishta is a second year graduate student in Urban Planning at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Her goal is to work in the urban planning field as an environmental city planner. She has an interest in international development, water management planning, and disaster mitigation. Her Master’s thesis focuses on planning for the Syrian refugees and water management planning in Jordan.
Advisor: Dr. Clara Irazabal and Dr. Tess Russo
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Leslie A. Faulkner

Leslie A. Faulkner is in her final semester as a Master of Science in Sustainability Management degree candidate at Columbia University, with an expected graduation in May 2014. Mrs. Faulkner’s academic focus has been concentrated on sustainability metrics, water conservation, and waste management. Her professional goal is to make a significant impact towards sustainability within a mission-driven organization by utilizing her skills in process analysis, strategic thinking, and academic research.
Advisor: Eleanor Sterling

 

 

Kirk Finkel

Kirk Finkel is an urban mapper, designer and artist. He earned a master's degree in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University in 2014 and a bachelor's degree in Architecture from Cornell University. Most recently, he worked for Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates Inc. in Philadelphia. Finkel is a co-founder of the design collective Hither Yon, represented by Carlotta Testori Studio in Milan, Italy. His work is focused on environmentally collaborative design as it applies within a wide scope of master-planning to experiments of art and representation.
Advisor: Richard Plunz
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Jesper Frant

Jesper, grew up in Boulder, Colorado. Graduating from the University of Colorado in 2008, Jesper became immersed in national politics – working in online communications for a political campaign, environmental advocacy non-profits, and ultimately in the U.S. Senate. Jesper is currently an MPA-DP student at SIPA, where he wishes to pair his professional experience in online communication with his passion for international development.
Advisor: Anne Nelson
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Adam Gordon

Adam Gordon will be graduating this May with a Master of Science in Sustainability Management and is currently working to support the Earth Institute’s Office of Academic and Research Programs. He has a research and professional interest in sustainable supply chains, operations and waste streams. Recently, he was an EDF Climate Corps Fellow with Colgate-­â€Palmolive where he worked on a variety of sustainability projects within the global supply chain. Before coming to Columbia, Adam co-­â€founded NYCOMPOST and consulted with Farmhouse Solutions on wide range of food system projects.
Advisor: George Sarrinikolaou
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Jamie Hardy

JB Hardy is a photographer, landscape designer, and fiber artist, who currently works in the MFA Theatre Program at Columbia University. She attended Barnard College and received a BA in Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures, where she wrote her thesis on townhouses of the Edo period in Kyoto, Japan. She has an MS in Landscape Design from Columbia University, and expects her MS in Sustainability Management from Columbia in May, 2014. During her time at Columbia, she has focused on the intersection of the growing water crisis, urban governance, and sustainable design.
Advisor: Lynnette Widder
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Padma Mahadevan

Padma Mahadevan graduated from University of Toronto (Canada) in 2008 with Bachelors in Chemical Engineering. She has worked at Barrick Gold Corporation as an Environmental Engineer in Vancouver, BC for the past 5 years developing novel technologies to address environmental challenges in the gold mining. She has commissioned a gold processing plant in Dominican Republic, worked on environmental compliance in a mine site in Tanzania. Padma Mahadevan is currently pursuing a Masters in Sustainability Management and is interested in contributing positively to the responsible development of extractive resources in developing countries.
Advisor: Paulo Cunha
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Yashaswini Singh

Yashaswini Singh is pursuing her MPA in International Finance and Economic Policy with a specialization in Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University. With an undergraduate degree in Economics and Mathematics (honors) from Bryn Mawr College (Class of 2013), Yashaswini is passionate about applying the results obtained through rigorous quantitative research methods and applied econometrics to inform economic policy making in developing countries.
Advisor:  
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Diptesh Soni

Diptesh Soni is a student at the School of International and Public Affairs, class of 2014 studying Economic and Political Development. For his project, Working with the Daaras, Diptesh conducted research at the policy and community level to understand the barriers to integration between the Koranic school education system and the formal primary education system in the Millennium Village of Potou and greater Senegal.
Advisor: Radhika Iyengar
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Zoë Stopak-Behr

Zoë Stopak-Behr is a dual degree graduate student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and the Mailman School of Public Health. Zoë acts as Managing Editor for the Journal of International Affairs and Graduate Research Assistant at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness. Prior to her graduate studies, Zoë spent five years with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), most recently serving as Operations and Reporting Officer for IOM Santo Domingo.
Advisor: Richard Ogeda
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Lisa Tan

Lisa Tan is a senior in Columbia College majoring in political science and concentrating in sustainable development. Within the field of sustainable development she is especially interested in global health and sustainable agriculture. Her research at the Earth Institute was focused on census quality evaluations in order to better collect and interpret population data for the purposes of improving GIS mapping data.
Advisor: Susana Adamo
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Daniela Tapia

Daniela is from Quito, Ecuador. She is currently pursuing her M.S. in Sustainability Management through the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Daniela holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Projects from the International Institute for Environmental Trainers in Madrid, Spain and a Bachelor’s degree in Ecotourism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador. Daniela is passionate about environmental resource management and cultural heritage. She believes that effective management is the key to preserving our natural, cultural and economic resources around the world.
Advisor: Lynnette Widder
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Natalia Torres

Natalia Torres grew up in Mexico City. She is a sophomore at Columbia College, class of 2016, studying Economics and Mathematics. She became interested in sustainable development last summer, when she participated in the Earth Institute’s program in Jordan. Eventually, she wants to work in development economics in Mexico, and she truly appreciates the perspective that her internship at the Earth Institute has given her on this topic.
Advisor: Lynnette Widder
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Eduardo A. Vega Vega

Eduardo holds more than ten years of risk management and financial analysis expertise. He has worked in areas like foreign exchange, alternative investments and sustainable finance. Early in his career he was an Asset Manager for AIMCO Capital, which is one of the largest Real Estate Investment Trusts in the US. He also worked for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, as Vice President in Global Markets Risk Management. As an entrepreneur he co-founded companies in sectors like farming and mining, both in the US and Colombia (his country of origin). Eduardo holds a BSc (Joint Honors) in Economics and Politics from University of Bristol (Bristol - UK), a MS in Financial Engineering from Stuart School of Business at Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago - USA), and is a candidate in the MS in Sustainability Management at Columbia University.
Advisor: George Sarrinikolaou
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Andy Wanning

Andy is from Blue Hill, Maine. He is a Senior Program Officer at the Center on Japanese Economy and Business at Columbia Business School. He is also a LEED Green Associate. Previously, he served as the United Nations Representative for Tribal Link Foundation, a non‐ governmental organization advocating for the rights of indigenous peoples throughout the world. He also spent a year in Costa Rica teaching English with WorldTeach. He enjoys ultimate frisbee, biking, hiking, soccer, yoga, photography, and listening to all kinds of music from around the world.
Advisor: Lynnette Widder
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Muqing Zhou

Muqing Zhou is a student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), class of 2014, pursuing a Master of International Affairs in economic and political development. She is interested in education policy and development economics and has designed and conducted evaluations of youth engagement, nutrition, and education programs in Canada, India, and Vietnam. Prior to joining SIPA, she worked as an English teacher at elementary and junior high schools in Japan.
Advisor: Joyce Chen
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