State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Undergrad Research Assistant Opportunity: Investigate Coastal Adaptation in NYC

The risk of coastal flooding is rising along the coast of NYC, as it is in many coastal cities around the world. The City of NY is investing in adaptation, but public investment is insufficient to protect many coastal neighborhoods. The missing piece in adaptation efforts is action by coastal residents. Among other constraints, residents lack basic information about flood risk and adaptation options.

The Earth Institute seeks an undergraduate research assistant to join a research project titled “Enabling urban residents to adapt to coastal flooding: Evidence from New York City neighborhoods.”

The project is investigating if and how information about risk and adaptation options influences adaptation among coastal residents. The team will collaborate with community groups in the Rockaways and with the City of NY to develop and hold workshops with coastal residents that will build capacity among residents to take adaptation actions. The RA will participate in the process and experience the front lines of the efforts to adapt to climate change. The project is also the first adaptation study that will use rigorous methodology to assess how information influences behavior.

The research assistant position is funded at a rate of $16 per hour for up to 10 hours a week, starting as soon as possible. Interested students should send resume and cover letter to Malgosia Madajewicz at

Research assistant responsibilities:

  • Conduct a literature review
  • Help to manage two household surveys, which will be conducted mainly online but may require phone calls and/or visits to households who do not respond online. Responsibilities include:
    • Help to develop questionnaires for the two surveys.
    • Program questionnaires on a web-based data collection platform.
    • Manage sample lists and monitor survey progress.
    • Coordinate the interviewers who will conduct in-person surveys.
  • Clean and help to analyze survey data.
  • Conduct in-depth interviews with selected community group leaders and
  • Attend and help run the workshops.
  • Attend team meetings and help to coordinate with our community partners.
  • Help to write reports and, if interested, co-author papers for publication.

Required qualifications:

  • Some academic background in one of the social sciences.
  • Excellent understanding of basic statistics, up to and including multivariate
    regression. The study will analyze panel data. If the candidate does not have
    experience with panel data then a willingness to learn new methods is essential.
  • Experience with working with data – cleaning, analyzing, visualizing.
  • Experience with a statistical analysis package such as Stata, SAS, SPSS.
  • Excellent research skills. Must be very well organized and methodical, with scrupulous attention to detail.
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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