State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Seeking an Urban Sustainability Graduate Research Assistant

The Earth Institute is seeking a graduate research assistant to work with Nilda Mesa, director of the Urban Sustainability and Equity Planning Program, in the spring 2017 semester. The research assistant will assist with various research activities, focusing on the factors that affect whether urban systems are and could be both sustainable and equitable, including economically. Factors include design principles, ethics and values, health disparities, social mobility, land use, transparency, energy, transportation, climate change and others.

The premise of this research emphasizes the interplay between transparency, ethics and governance in urban systems, with a grounding in data and relevant metrics. The research assistant will investigate case examples as well as conduct literature reviews. The results of this research will inform the development of a course, articles and other publications.


  • Work with Professor Mesa on categorizing and summarizing existing notes and data;
  • Researching environmental ethics and systems literature as well as economic data;
  • Submit case studies for review;
  • Other research as required.


  • Strong writing and analytical skills;
  • Interest or experience in qualitative research;
  • Interest or experience in design;
  • Some experience in quantitative analysis;
  • An ability to work independently;
  • Reliability and responsiveness to deadlines.

Position Logistics

The position pays $15 per hour for a range of 10 to 15 hours per week.

The hired candidate will work independently as well as at times directly with Professor Mesa, and meet weekly by phone or in person with her. The candidate will continually communicate with the professor by email.

Submit a cover letter stating your interest in and fit for the position along with a resume and writing sample to Applications are due by Friday, December 9. Only full-time graduate students are eligible to apply.

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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