State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Sustainable Development Program Awards Its First Departmental Honors

The Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development is proud to announce that graduating seniors Tal Lee Anderman, GS ’12 and Erin Stahmer, CC ’12 have been selected to receive departmental honors.  Tal Lee and Erin are the first recipients of sustainable development departmental honors and were nominated for this distinction based on their outstanding grade point average in the major, involvement in departmental and extracurricular activities as well as their success in their respective senior theses. Learn more about the students and their achievements below, we commend them for all of these accomplishments and those that are sure to follow in their post-Columbia endeavors.

Tal Lee Anderman: Tal Lee pursued many opportunities to engage in the program outside of the classroom both on and off Columbia’s campus. In addition to her studies, she interned with the development team at Millennium Promise (MP) and used her work and connections there to inform her senior thesis project on Assessing Tradeoffs for Human Wellbeing and the Environment of Smallholder Cash Crop Production in Bonsaaso, Ghana. At MP, Tal Lee cultivated materials to strengthen partnerships with key sponsors, developed important publications such as the United Nations Millennium Villages Project Phase II Launch Report, and contributed to the organization’s social media efforts.  Her favorite class in the Sustainable Development program was the senior seminar thesis workshop. Through her senior thesis, Tal Lee studied one-on-one with leading professors in the department and on campus, under mentors Professor Ruth DeFries and Dr. Roseline Remans. Tal Lee shared her enthusiasm and energy for the program with prospective student while working as a teaching assistant for the Introduction to Sustainable Development Seminar in Fall 2011 with Professor Jason Smerdon, Co-Director of the program. She also played an integral role in helping shape the newly created student group, Student Union for Sustainable Development (SUS-D), and served as the Executive Liaison between SUS-D, The Earth Institute and the University. “Helping to build this group was both fun and rewarding. The enthusiasm from students in the major, as well as from faculty, is contagious, making the work easy, effective and quick to bear beautiful fruit,” said Tal Lee.

Erin Stahmer: Erin set an incredible example of how to balance academic responsibilities along with extracurricular activities at Columbia University, completing a double major in sustainable development and dance while working closely with Professor John Mutter as an intern on disaster related research. “I am very proud of the work that I did with the Columbia University team in partnership with Red Cross in Haiti after the cholera outbreak,” said Erin. She organized statistical metrics to produce maps that assisted in Red Cross relief planning. Using the GIS skills she gained in the program, Erin geo-located villages and small towns that did not previously exist in the Haiti dataset, and conducted predictive hotspot analyses to determine where the cholera outbreak might spread next. Meanwhile, Erin also compiled research for her senior thesis, The Impact of Hurricane Irene: Analyzing the Social and Capital Asset Vulnerability of the Northeast United States through the Creation and Testing of Flood Vulnerability Indices. This spring, in addition to her achievements in the sustainable development department, Erin was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the national honor society that advocates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. Erin was very involved in the Columbia University dance group, Orchesis, where she choreographed, performed and served on the executive board. She was also Co-President of NOM^3, a student-run catering group that features seasonal and healthy food with an emphasis on sustainability and food education.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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