State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Coronavirus: Expert Resources for Journalists

[Last updated with new information March 1, 2022]

Columbia University is home to many scientists who are analyzing the pandemic and its fallout for public health, politics, environment, food security, energy, climate, the economy, education and more. Below, a guide for journalists.

For further information, check the coronavirus section of our State of the Planet, where staff are daily presenting new research and perspectives.

For advice or help reaching our researchers, contact our press office:
Kevin Krajick | | 917-361-7766

For more expansive sources on public health, contact the press office at Columbia University’s Mailman School for Public Health.

For queries directly related to clinical medicine, immunology and pharmacology, contact the press office at Columbia University Medical Center.

For a more general list of resources related to catastrophes of all kinds, see our Disaster Experts: A Journalist’s Guide

Earth Institute scientists have developed the Global COVID-19 Viewer, a continuously updated interactive map that shows the number of people affected by the pandemic down to the U.S.-county level, and provides data on age and sex groups that can help identify populations most at risk. Click here or on map to access.


Scientists at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network have developed the Global COVID-19 Viewer, an easy-to-use interactive map that shows the number of people affected by the pandemic down to the U.S.-county level, and provides data on age and sex groups that can help identify populations most at risk. Viewers can outline any area of interest in the world and instantly pull up the latest data. Researchers include geographer Alexander de SherbininAccess the Global Covid-19 Viewer | Story about the map Chen discusses coronavirus at the UN

Irwin Redlener, physician and director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, is a leading thinker on emergency planning and response. He has been highly outspoken on how to organize and protect the U.S. health system during the pandemic. | Or contact chief of staff Eric Greenberg, Report Outlines Path to Safe Reopening | Hospitals Prepare for Second Wave of Coronavirus| Disaster Season Is Upon Us| A Second Wave Is Inevitable| Covid-19 update on WNYC

Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist and head of the Climate and Health Program, studies the environmental determinants of infectious disease transmission, especially respiratory illnesses. He has been explaining to wide audiences what we know about the virus. | 212-305-3590  |  Protests Do Not Seem to Be Spreading Virus| Lockdown Delays Cost at Least 36,000 Lives| Coronavirus Quarantine FAQ| Virus Is Hiding in Plain Sight, Shaman tells NY Times | Article in the journal Science

Yanis Ben Amor, executive director of the Center for Sustainable Development, is a microbiologist with long experience fighting Ebola, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, mainly in developing countries. He is now confronting coronavirus. | Why Is Covid Testing Still a Mess? | Global South Prepares for the Worst | Profile of Ben Amor’s work 

Wilmot James is a professor of political science and nonclinical pediatrics, and former member of South Africa’s Parliament. He is monitoring the application of social distancing policies in Africa, and advising mid-tier governments in South Africa on the pandemic. He is also consulting with New York state on biosecurity within medical testing labs. | Public Health Systems and Personal Hygiene Must Be Primed A Plea for Effective Risk Management

Maria Diuk-Wasser is an epidemiologist who studies the environmental and anthropogenic factors that drive the emergence and spread of diseases, including those passed from animals to humans, such as the coronavirus. |  212-854-3355

Robbie Parks, an environmental epidemiologist and Earth Institute fellow, studies how climate, weather, pollution and other factors affect human morbidity and mortality–a field directly relevant to the prospective impacts of the outbreak. |How Fatal Injuries in the U.S. May Go Up

Geochemists Beizhan Yan and Steve Chillrud have been investigating the efficiency of various kinds of face masks and homemade coverings, and ways to disinfect them. | | Disinfecting Your Mask at Home

Environmental engineer Kartik Chandran, a global leader in wastewater treatment, is involved in multiple projects aimed at tracking coronavirus in various populations by monitoring signs of its presence in wastewater. 


Jeffrey Schlegelmilch is deputy director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness. He has broad expertise relating to disaster policy, response and recovery, both on organizational and individual levels, and on the synergy that multiple concurrent disasters can exert. |646-845-2318 COVID-19 Highlights Need to Plan for Joint Disasters| Hurricane Season Could Strain Pandemic Response| Schlegelmilch on the lockdowns

John Mutter studies the long-term economic and human costs of catastrophes, from counting the true death toll of hurricanes Katrina and Maria to the Deepwater Horizon. He is author of the book The Disaster Profiteers, and  is now writing about the pandemic. | 845-365-0716 | The Interminable Body Count of Coronavirus |Mutter on preparing for the unthinkable

Environmental geographer Andrew Kruckziewicz of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society is an expert on risk assessment and natural disasters, and can speak to how multiple concurrent disasters such as hurricanes, floods and locust outbreaks may magnify the effects of the pandemic. |  | What Happens When Natural Disaster Strikes During a Pandemic?

Climate scientist Radley Horton is a leading researcher on how multiple, concurrent extreme events can work together to worsen collective effects. Hurricanes, heat waves, power outages, floods,k wildfires and other disasters could provide such synergy for the pandemic. Horton organized a first-of-its kind interdisciplinary workshop on such “correlated extremes” last year. |  Preparing for When Climate Throws a One-Two Punch

Engineer Christian Braneon of Goddard Institute for Space Studies is a member of the New York City Panel on Climate Change. He can speak to how warming urban climate may work together with the virus to magnify the dangers.  |

Meteorologist Adam Sobel heads the Columbia Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate, and author of a book about Hurricane Sandy. He can speak to how weather events contribute to human risks, including those posed by the pandemic. | | Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate

Suzana Camargo, an expert on hurricanes and cyclones, can address questions regarding storms and their effects, and how extreme weather may intersect with the pandemic. |

Steven Cohen, Earth Institute professor and former executive director, has long studied how communities can make themselves more resilient to disasters and longer-term challenges; he has been writing on the pandemic. | 212-854-1214  Moving Forward Is Our Only Option | Social Distance, Public Health and Sustainable CitiesCohen on the pandemic


Peter Coleman is co-director of the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity. He studies how people deal with volatile situations including warfare and disasters, and has been writing on the pandemic. | 212-678-3112 How to Manage COVID and Conflict at Home and in the Workplace | How the Pandemic Could Boost Trump’s Re-election Chances| Coleman on surviving quarantine

Earth Institute postdoc Megan Maurer and Brian Mailloux of Barnard College are studying people’s use of outdoor green spaces during the pandemic, and how they perceive and weigh the risks and benefits of going outside. Surveys are being performed remotely with college students from around the country who have been sent home.  | | | Project description

Scott Barrett, an Earth Institute professor, is a leading scholar on addressing transnational and global challenges, including climate change and disease eradication. He studies how customary law and treaties can be used (or not) to promote international cooperation. | 212-851-5861

Benjamin Orlove, an anthropologist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, studies the psychology and sociology of disasters, and how individuals prepare for and react to them. | 212-854-1543


Michael Gerrard, a longtime leading environmental lawyer, directs the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. He is closely tracking the environmental and political fallout of the pandemic. | 212-854-3287 | Lessons for Climate Change and the Response to Covid-19| Gerrard on the pandemic and prospects for a greener economy

Michael Burger is executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, and is also tracking the environmental and political fallout of the pandemic. | 212-854-2372

Romany Webb is a senior fellow at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. She has been tracking the effect of the U.S. administration’s anti-science agenda on the environment during the pandemic, and on efforts to fight the pandemic itself. | How Covid-19 Could Increase Some Kinds of Pollution| Trump’s Industry First, Science Last Agenda Is Costing Lives | How EPA Is Hiding Information During the Pandemic

Jacqueline Klopp co-directs the Center for Sustainable Urban Development. She works at the intersection of transport, land use and energy, and has been studying how the pandemic might affect urban areas. | 212-851-2979   This Crisis Will End; the Fight Against Pollution Is Just Starting | Klopp on how the pandemic might affect cities

Richard Plunz directs the Urban Design Lab. He has been asked by the World Health Organization to help implement design standards for 1 million beds to treat severe respiratory infections in the U.S., EU and Australia. He is also working with an interdiscliplinary team to explore how cities might be transformed after the pandemic.

Amy Turner is a senior fellow at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law specializing in urban environments. She is looking into how urban areas can deal with the pandemic, and what environmental lessons may be learned. | 212-854-3268 |Covid-19 Provides Lessons for Cities on Climate Adaptation| Cities, Climate and Covid-19

Hillary Aidun is a fellow at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. She is looking into how governments at all levels are dealing with transparency and public-input issues at a time when public gatherings have been banned. | Public Participation in the Coronavirus Age

Shahid Naeem leads the Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability. An ecologist who studies global biodiversity, he will potentially examine how the pandemic could affect natural ecosystems, and our relationship with them. | 212-854-4499 

Scientists at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, who lay out medium-term climate forecasts, are looking into how floods, droughts or other extreme events could compound the effects of the pandemic in various parts of the world. These include environmental geographers Andrew Kruckziewicz and Beth Tellman. | | | Satellites and the Pandemic Planet

Diverse scientists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are studying the effects of the economic shutdown on the environment, including air pollution and greenhouse gases.
Róisín Commane measures the presence and movements of  carbon dioxide, methane and other gases across the planet, including New York City and the most remote areas of the world.
Arlene Fiore studies how anthropogenic and natural emissions influence atmospheric chemistry, climate, and air pollution on regional to global scales.
Dan Westervelt studies climate modeling, aerosol-climate interactions, and air quality in many places, including Africa and China.
Wade McGillis is a geochemist who monitors a wide variety substances in air, and aquatic and marine waters in many areas of the world.
Radley Horton is a researcher and climate scientist who studies the impacts of extreme events, mainly on urban areas. He has been looking into the virus’s impact on greenhouse gases and other pollution.
How the Shutdown Is Clearing NYC Air
Lockdowns Mean Cleaner Air Worldwide–For Now
Why Pollution Is Plummeting in Some Cities, But Not Others

Andrew Juhl is an aquatic ecologist and oceanographer at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory with broad interests in practical issues applying to coastal marine systems, estuaries, rivers and lakes. He can potentially comment on the pandemic’s effects on water. | 845-365-8837 | Antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the Hudson River

Belinda Archibong, an Earth Institute faculty affiliate, studies the economic consequences of epidemics, pollution and climate change, and how institutions and inequality may exacerbate or mitigate such effects. Her main focus is on Africa, but her work has also focused on other regions, including the United States.

Geoffrey Heal is an Earth Institute professor who studies environmental economics. He can comment on the potential effects of the outbreak on exploitation of natural resources and the wider environment. | 212-854-6459

Jeffrey Sachs is a world-renown economist, director of the Center for Sustainable Development, and former director of the Earth Institute. He is addressing wide-ranging questions about the economics and politics of the crisis.  | 212-870-2762 | Trump’s Disastrous Response to Covid-19| Why the U.S. Has the Most Confirmed Cases | Our Best Hope for Fighting Coronavirus


Michael Puma, director of the Center for Climate Systems Research studies global food security and trade systems, and their vulnerability to both natural and manmade shocks. have long studied the effects that national or regional climate shocks may have on global food security.  |  Feeding Humanity Amid the Disruption of the Pandemic | Covid-19’s Potential for Food-Security Disruptions| Unforeseen Dangers to the Global Food System | Should People Be Hoarding Food?

Cynthia Rosenzweig of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies has a leadership role in the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP), a network of 1,000 food-system modelers. AgMIP is using its simulation tools to understand the disruptions that COVID-19 is already causing the food system and to project future impacts and devise solutions.  |

Jonas Jagermeyr is a crop modeler and climate scientist at Goddard Institute for Space Studies who recently published a study of how coronavirus-like shock–a limited nuclear war between India and Pakistan–might impact the world agricultural and commodities-trade system.  Even Limited Nuclear War Would Bring Global Famine, Says Study

Weston Anderson is an agro-climatologist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society who studies the vulnerability of the global food system to shocks from climate, trade interruptions and other factors. | 816 590 7226 | International Trade and the Stability of Food Supplies in the Global South

Wolfram Schlenker, an environmental economist and Earth Institute professor, studies how weather, climate, pollution and other factors can impact agricultural yields and human morbidity.


Staff at the Center for Global Energy Policy (CGEP) study all aspects of energy, from electric grids and fossil fuel markets to renewable energy sources. They are intensively monitoring the fallout of the coronavirus across the world. Click here a list of resources on the energy impacts of the virus, and CGEP press officer contacts.

Engineers Christoph Meinrenken and Vijay Modi and colleagues are investigating how electricity usage is shifting from institutions to individuals during the lockdown, exerting new financial pressures on households. | | Coronavirus and Residential Energy Use | Shifting the Burden of Energy Costs


David Maurrasse is a research scholar at the Earth Institute who studies philanthropy, NGOs and sustainability. He is looking into how the private sector may aid in recovery. | 917-432-7449  | How Philanthropies Worldwide Are Addressing the Pandemic| U.S. Philanthropies in the Pandemic

Gregory Witkowski is a senior lecturer at the School of Professional Studies who studies nonprofit management and philanthropies, with a focus on disasters. | Feeling Helpless at Home? Try Giving. | Nonprofits lead the way on Covid-19

Steven Cohen, Earth Institute professor and former executive director, directs several educational programs at Columbia. | | Education During a Global Pandemic

Joshus DeVincenzo is an instructional designer at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness who is investigating how public schools are responding, or failing to respond, to the disruptions of the pandemic. | | Absent: Priority for Recovery of Schools

Radhika Iyengar is a specialist in the economics of education at the Center for Sustainable Development, with long experience working in India and the United States. She has recently begun writing about the effects of the pandemic on education for young children.  |  |  212-851-7325  |  It Takes a Village to Teach a Child

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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