State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Faculty Profile: Jeffrey Shaman

Jeffrey Shaman has never been one to study or do anything in isolation, but has always chosen to focus on the intersection of how things work. Given this trait, it is no surprise that his interdisciplinary research looks to reveal how meteorology and hydrology affect the propagation of infectious diseases. Shaman aims to combine his background in atmospheric science, hydrology, ecology and molecular biology to investigate how the physical environment affects biological systems, particularly disease systems.

“I want to develop new frameworks for predicting and monitoring infectious disease transmission. The idea is to equip scientists and public health officials with the information they need to predict and monitor infectious disease transmissions,” says Shaman. He believes that the application of this work can be extremely beneficial in controlling the propagation of diseases and better identifying hotspots of activity, in both developing and developed countries. These endeavors transformed into a pilot project in New York City where Shaman and a team of researchers, with the support of the Earth Institute, are looking at where the flu and other respiratory pathogens spread and how this transmission is tied to social demographics and meteorological conditions.

Since 2012, Shaman has worked with the Earth Institute, where he is now a junior faculty member. In addition to his teaching and research responsibilities, Shaman sits on the postdoctoral fellowship admissions committee for the Earth Institute and is currently working with James Tamerius, an Earth Institute postdoc, in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health. When asked about his experience supervising Tamerius in his work, Shaman said, “he’s been great and extremely helpful and I’m honored to be able to support him in his research endeavors.”

Jeffrey Shaman received a BA in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1990, and an MA and MPhil from Columbia University in 2000 and 2002 respectively. In 2003, he was awarded his PhD by the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, working with Mark Cane and Marc Stieglitz.  From 2003-2005, he served as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration postdoctoral fellow at Harvard. Following his fellowship, he was appointed as an Assistant Professor at the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, where he taught until 2011, when he joined the Department of Environmental Health Sciences as an Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

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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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