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The Masters in Sustainability Science program brings the world-class expertise of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory into the classroom. The instructors of the program are distinguished scientists of the Observatory and among the pioneers in the use of technology – underwater vehicles, aircraft, drones, and satellites – to collect critical measurements, samples, and real-time data worldwide.

Program Directors

Brendan Buckley

Braddock Linsley

Program Faculty

Arthur Lerner-Lam

Ben Bostick

Brendan Buckley

Suzana Camargo

Steve Chillrud

James Davis

Edward Garvey

Lex van Geen

David Goldberg

Jonathan Hollander

Learn from the Best Sustainability Scientists​


The faculty comprise some of the world's leading scientists, who are part of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. In this program, the faculty draw on scientific advancements to teach students the practical applications of science in the field of sustainability.

Program Director

Dr. Brendan Buckley holds the position of Lamont Research Professor, and has been a long-time member of the Tree Ring Lab at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University (LDEO). While he has worked in locations around the globe, Buckley has been one of the pioneers of tropical dendroclimatology, having produced the longest and best replicated records of absolutely dated tree ring sequences from Southeast Asia. He continues this important work by using new methods to develop discrete seasonal reconstructions of regional hydroclimate, including measures of the strength of summer and winter monsoons, as well as the “shoulder” seasons that lead into and out of them, over the past millennium. He has a long history of research in Asian tropics and the North American boreal forests, having conducted some of the first dendroclimatic forays in northern Canada, and North America’s northernmost trees in the Firth River of Alaska. He was also instrumental in developing the longest temperature reconstructions from the Southern Hemisphere as part of his PhD research in Tasmania and New Zealand.

Buckley received his undergraduate degree in Physical Geography from Plymouth State College in New Hampshire, a Masters degree from Arizona State University in Tempe, and his PhD from the Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies (IASOS) at the University of Tasmania, Australia. He held Post-doctoral positions at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, before commencing his current LDEO position in 1999.

Program Director

Brad Linsley is a Lamont Research Professor and Director of the Lamont-Doherty Stable Isotope Laboratory. He came to Lamont in 2011 after 16 years as a Professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the University at Albany-SUNY. Brad is from the Connecticut shore where he developed a life-long interest in the oceans. Following his Ph.D. research in marine sediment core-based paleoceanography at the University of New Mexico, Brad began working with and developing the use of massive corals as recorders of past oceanographic and climate conditions while a postdoctoral associate at Rice University in Houston. Since then the sediment and coral facets of his research have taken him to remote sites across the Pacific studying sediment cores and coral cores from sites in Panamá, Clipperton Atoll, Fanning Atoll, Rarotonga, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, the Great Barrier Reef, the Makassar Strait in Indonesia, the Sulu Sea, and the New Guinea margin. Back in the lab, meticulous work on the coral cores generates near-monthly resolved geochemical reconstructions of water temperature and salinity over the last several centuries. The sediment cores are used to make deeper-time reconstructions of surface, intermediate and deep water conditions in the far western Pacific. Brad recently returned from a 9 week expedition on the JOIDES Resolution drill ship as part of Ocean Discovery Program Leg (IODP leg 363) in the western Pacific warm pool. Over his career, Brad has developed influential paleoclimate records from the circum-Pacific that have significantly advanced our understanding of interannual-multidecadal climate dynamics and millennial-scale variability in the ocean.

Arthur Lerner-Lam
Ben Bostick
Brendan Buckley
Braddock Linsley


Arthur Lerner-Lam is the Program Director and also serves as the Deputy Director of the Earth Institute’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University. He is a seismologist, who has studied and published on the interactions between crust and mantle, the thickness of tectonic plates, the structure of mountain belts and crustal rifts, and active seismicity. He has led scientific expeditions in many different countries, and throughout the United States. Over the last 20 years, he has lectured and written widely on natural hazards and society. Lerner-Lam and his colleagues and students have supported the activities of the United Nations, the World Bank, and other international institutions promoting sustainable development in the face of extreme natural hazards.

Lerner-Lam received his undergraduate degree in geological sciences from Princeton University, and his doctorate in geophysical sciences from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California. He has held Post-doctoral positions at Scripps and the MIT, and has been at Lamont-Doherty since 1985. He has been on numerous scientific advisory committees and editorial boards including as a member on the Federal Scientific Earthquake Studies Advisory Committee for the U.S. Geological Survey, as a consultant to the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and as a contributing author to the U.N.’s Global Risk Update. He has consulted on environmental and natural hazard resilience for the governments of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Chile, India, China, Thailand, Turkey and Venezuela. He has testified before the U.S. Congress on the nation’s preparedness for natural disasters.


Dr. Suzana J. Camargo is a Lamont Research Professor. She has been working at Columbia University at the Lamont campus since 1999, first at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) before becoming part of the Ocean and Climate Physics Division of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in 2007. Dr. Camargo main expertise is on tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons), in particular the relationship of tropical cyclones and climate in various time-scales. Dr. Camargo has published over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals. Since 2015, Dr. Camargo is the executive director of the Columbia University Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate. She joined the Columbia University Earth Institute Faculty as an Associate Member in January 2018.

Dr. Camargo was born in Brazil, where she received her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Physics at the University of São Paulo (USP). She then moved to Germany, where she conducted her research at the Max-Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) and received her Ph.D. in Physics at the Technical University of Munich in 1992. She was then a post-doctoral research scientist at the Max-Planck Institute for Plasma Physics until 1996, when she returned to Brazil to become an Associate Professor in Physics at the São Paulo State University (Unesp).

Dr. Camargo has also been an editor of Geophysical Research Letters since 2018 and an associate editor of the Journal of Climate since 2016. Dr. Camargo has been a member of the World Meteorological Organization Expert Team on Climate Change Impacts on Tropical Cyclones since 2017.


Dr. James L. Davis has been a Lamont Research Professor since coming to the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in 2010. His expertise is in the field of Geodesy—the science of measuring of the size, shape, rotation, and gravitational field of the Earth—focusing on plate tectonics and on impacts of climate change, especially sea-level change and postglacial rebound. Dr. Davis received his B.S. in Physics at Michigan State University and his Ph.D. in Geophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He held a postdoctoral position at Harvard University and a National Research Council (NRC) Postdoctoral Associateship at the U.S. Geological Survey.

Before coming to Columbia, Dr. Davis was a Senior Geodesist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Lecturer on Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. Dr. Davis is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and of the International Association of Geodesy (IAG). He served on the NRC Committee on National Requirements for Precision Geodetic Infrastructure and the Committee on Seismology and Geodynamics. He was President of the Geodesy Section of the AGU and the Founding President of UNAVCO. He has served as associate editor for the Journal of Geophysical Research and was a member of the NASA GRACE Science Team.


Geochemist Lex van Geen holds a research professor appointment at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and is member of the Earth Institute’s faculty at Columbia University. His current research focuses on ways to reduce the impact of the environment on human health. For two decades, he coordinated earth-science and mitigation efforts under Columbia’s Superfund Research Program on the origin and health effects of elevated levels of arsenic in groundwater. A theme that runs through this and other on-going project, e.g. concerning fluoride in groundwater in India, bauxite dust in Guinea, or soil contaminated with lead from mine-tailings in Peru, is that patterns of contamination are spatially very heterogeneous. This complicates prediction but often also points the way to mitigation when the hazard can be mapped. For this reason, Van Geen is a firm believer in the more widespread use of field kits by non-specialists to reduce exposure to environmental toxicants, particularly in developing countries. He collaborates with public health and social scientists to evaluate how such kits can be deployed at scale and has published over 150 peer-reviewed papers on this and other environmental topics.


Jonathan Hollander has more than 15 years of experience as a technological innovator and science communicator, having focused on such topics as semiconductor materials, nanoscience and engineering, polymer chemistry, and energy efficiency policy. He has advised numerous for-profit startups delivering high social impact with particular interest in companies that focus on sustainability and empower local communities through economic development opportunities.

Dr. Hollander’s most recent work was commercializing innovations developed at Applied Biorefinery Sciences which are aimed at displacing crude oil with wood and other non-food plants as the raw material to produce a range of everyday products, such as gasoline and plastic bottles. Prior to that, Dr. Hollander taught at the State University of New York College of Environmental Sciences & Forestry and was a Science Policy Advisor for the UK Government.

Twice awarded prestigious scholarships for graduate study at the University of Cambridge, the Gates Scholarship and the Churchill Scholarship, Dr. Hollander completed his PhD in Materials Science and MPhil in Physics. His research significantly improved our understanding of the quantum effects occurring inside of semiconductor light emitting devices (LEDs) and resulted in fifteen peer-reviewed publications and dozens of speaking engagements. Dr. Hollander earned his BS in Materials Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Bob Newton is a Sr. Research Scientist and an oceanographer at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. He uses trace elements in water and satellite imagery of sea ice to learn about the polar oceans, and their role in the climate system. His work with trace chemicals has helped to understand circulation patterns in the Arctic Ocean; the permeability of the Arctic sea-ice pack; how permeable the Arctic Ocean ice cover is, and how gases are exchanged between the deep Pacific Ocean and the atmosphere. Bob’s work with satellite data and climate models has improved our understanding of how warming is changing patterns of sea ice formation, transport and melt. Recently, he has been working with social scientists on how rapid changes in the Arctic regional climate, including sea ice, are impacting coastal communities. Bob also directs Lamont Doherty’s Secondary School Field Research Program, which engages students and teachers in field and laboratory research projects. Through the SSFRP, Bob has been involved in ecological research in the Piermont Marsh and New York Harbor.

Bob studied Social Theory at Empire State College and Mathematics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He earned his PhD at Columbia University in Earth and Environmental Science. He has also worked designing and managing cyber-infrastructure for financial sector firms. Bob grew up in Manhattan, and is now living inthe Catskills with his wife, Alice, and their puggle, Hudson. Their twin daughters, Karen and Jackie, work in ethical philosophy and municipal government, respectively.


Michael Previdi is a Lamont Associate Research Professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. He holds a B.S. degree in Meteorology and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science, both from Rutgers University. Following the completion of his Ph.D., Mike stayed on at Rutgers for one more year as a Post Doctoral Associate in the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, where he studied the effects of North Atlantic Oscillation variability on the air-sea exchange of CO2. Mike then did a second postdoc at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, where he focused on the response of the global hydrological cycle to different anthropogenic forcings.

In 2010, Mike entered the Lamont Research Professor track at the assistant level, where he subsequently published several papers on the global hydrological cycle, climate sensitivity, and stratospheric ozone effects on climate. He was promoted to Lamont Associate Research Professor in 2015. Mike’s latest research is focused on the causes of Arctic amplification in climate models and observations.


Ajit Subramaniam is a Lamont Research Professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. He has worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal Services Center in Charleston, SC, the University of Maryland in College Park, MD, and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He has served as the Program Director for the Marine Microbiology Initiative at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and a program manager in the Biological Oceanography Program at the U.S. National Science Foundation. Ajit earned his Ph.D. in Coastal Oceanography and M.S. in Marine Environmental Science from SUNY, Stony Brook. He has a Bachelors degree in Physics from The American College in India.

Subramaniam is a biological oceanographer who uses remote sensing, bio-optics, Geographical Information Systems, to better understand how the marine ecosystem works and can be managed. Specifically, he works on understanding the diversity and productivity of phytoplankton. He has worked with remote sensing data for more than 20 years and has developed algorithms for detection of cyanobacterial blooms. Subramaniam has taught at the Austral Summer Institute, Universidad de Concepción in 2004, 07, and 10 and was awarded a Fulbright Specialist Award in 2010 for this. He was awarded a Mercator Fellowship by the University of Rostock and the Baltic Sea Research Institute, Germany in 2017.


Dr. Beizhan Yan received his Ph.D. in Geology in 2004 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, NY and currently he is a Lamont Associate Research Professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) of Columbia University. His Ph.D. study at RPI (2000-2004) focused on the source apportionment of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in urban waters. After two years of postdoc in Idaho National Laboratory, he joined Washington University in St. Louis to study nanoscale size effects on biogeochemical processes for environmental bioremediation. This research has important implications for the immobilization of uranium and biodegradation of aromatic compounds at contaminated sites. In 2007, he joined LDEO as an institutional postdoctoral fellow. Since then, he has established an Environmental Organic Geochemistry Lab with ability to extract, isolate, and identify organic contaminants and biomarkers from environmental and biological samples.

Using source-sensitive indicators and compound-specific stable isotope ratios, he has successfully traced metals and aromatic hydrocarbons in the waters and air of NYC and linked the exposures of these air pollutants to pediatric asthma outcomes. He is also leading a collaborative study to examine the association between pediatric respiratory outcomes and air pollutants in Beijing China. To determine possible impacts of hydrofracking on air and water quality and health outcomes, he is conducting a collaborative study in adjacent counties of western NY (Broome, Tioga, and Chemung) and northern PA (Susquehanna, Bradford, and Tioga).


Dr. Bostick is a Lamont Associate Research Professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. His research and consulting interests include Soil and Aqueous Geochemistry, Mineralogy, Tropical Soils and Soil Fertility, Environmental Health, and Environmental Remediation.Dr. Bostick is a Lamont Associate Research Professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. His research and consulting interests include Soil and Aqueous Geochemistry, Mineralogy, Tropical Soils and Soil Fertility, Environmental Health, and Environmental Remediation.

He is involved in numerous field and lab studies that chronicle the environmental chemistry of metals in the environment, the biogeochemistry, human health impacts and environmental impacts of those metals. He studies experimental and field-based systems using synchrotron-based spectroscopy and other methods.


Dr. Chillrud, Lamont Research Professor, is an environmental geochemist interested in public health research. Much of his work is focused on the role of particles in the transport, behavior and fate of chemical contaminants. These particles can be fine-grained sediments in surface water bodies, such as the Hudson River, sandy particles in groundwater aquifers, or airborne particles in indoor and outdoor settings. He has worked for over 25 years studying contaminant issues at Superfund sites, including developing and testing enhanced remediation methods for contaminated aquifers.

His research on air pollution seeks to understand the sources, behavior, and exposure pathways of airborne contaminants, as well as designing and testing new air monitoring devices, either to be used at fixed indoor and outdoor locations, or to be worn by people. He also serves as the Director of the Exposure Assessment Facilities Core of the Columbia Center for Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan.


Edward Garvey (Ed) is an environmental geochemist and a technical vice president with WSP, Inc., an international consulting firm. He has over 40 years of experience and is a licensed professional geologist in New York and Pennsylvania.

For more than 30 years, Ed has served as the chief scientist for the USEPA on the Hudson River PCB Superfund site. He has also directed the Superfund investigations of the Lower Passaic River and Newark Bay (NJ), Onondaga Lake (NY) and numerous other sites throughout the U.S. He is currently providing technical direction for the City of New York on investigations for the Gowanus Canal and Newton Creek, pertaining to combined sewer overflow discharges. Ed has also testified as the lead expert witness for the government of Ecuador in its litigation against Texaco/Chevron regarding legacy petroleum contamination in the headwaters of the Amazon rainforest.

Ed began his career conducting greenhouse gas research for Exxon in a cooperative program with scientists at Columbia University. This work has been in the news recently in light of Exxon’s subsequent positions on global warming.

Ed’s research interests include the integration of geochemical and geophysical data to establish sediment and contaminant transport, the geochemical study of persistent organic pollutants (e.g., PAHs, PCBs, dioxins), and the geochemical study of heavy metals, (e.g., lead, mercury). He has co-authored numerous presentations, government reports, and articles on the application of environmental forensics, sediment core dating, and high-resolution analytical techniques to investigate and remediate major Superfund sites across the US.

Education Ph.D., Columbia University M.A., Columbia University B.ChE. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art


David Goldberg is a Lamont Research Professor and has studied and published on a range of subjects from quantifying marine methane hydrates in nature to the structure and alteration of oceanic crust to carbon dioxide storage and renewable energy. He has acted as Principal Investigator for many collaborative research projects, including recent multinational carbon management studies, and been directly involved with several international scientific drilling programs. In carbon management, his interests have evolved to focus on the integration of different technologies and cross-disciplinary approaches to develop achievable climate solutions. He also currently serves as an Associate Director of the Earth Institute’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University.

Goldberg received his undergraduate and MS degrees in earth and planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his doctorate in geophysics and an MBA from Columbia University. He conducted postdoctoral studies at the Institut Français du Petrole in Paris and has been at Lamont-Doherty since 1985. He has served on numerous panels related to international scientific drilling, the U.S. Secretary of Energy’s Methane Hydrate Advisory Committee, and as a core faculty member for the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy at Columbia. Goldberg continues to advise graduate students interested in carbon management, scientific drilling, and related research areas.


Einat Lev is a Lamont Associate Research Professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, where she started as a Lamont-Doherty Postdoctoral Fellow in 2009. Einat holds a B.Sc. in Geophysics and Computer Science from Tel-Aviv University in Israel, and a Ph.D. in Geophysics from MIT. Her research is focused on the fluid mechanics and physical processes controlling volcanic eruptions. In particular, Einat studies how the complex properties of magma and lava, and the variable eruption conditions, play a role on the outcome of eruptions. Einat’s research relies on a range of methods, primarily numerical modeling, fluid mechanics experiments using materials analogous to magma and lava, field surveys, and aerial photography.

Einat has published many articles in scientific journals, as well as popular science blogs and radio interviews. In addition to volcanoes and geology, Einat is a passionate about science education, and strives to bring the insights gained from basic research into applications that benefit society and to expand the reach of science education to all sections of society.


Frank Nitsche is a research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. He studies sediment processes and morphological features of coastal areas including the Hudson River Estuary and the Long Island Sound. In addition, he investigates seafloor features of the Antarctic continental margin and is reconstructing past ice stream dynamics and the vulnerability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. In his research he uses mostly geophysical mapping techniques and data integration through GIS.

Nitsche teaches in Columbia’s Masters programs in Sustainability Science. He previously has taught an Environmental Data Analysis course at Barnard College and coordinated environmental field classes on the Hudson River.

Nitsche received a Diploma (Master of Science) in geophysics from the University of Kiel, Germany and a Ph.D. from the University of Bremen, Germany. After a post-doctoral position at ETH Zurich he came to the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in 2001 where he started as a postdoctoral researcher. He has participated in nine ocean-going and numerous coastal expeditions. He has consulted on several environmental projects for New York State and Connecticut State.


Dr. Alex de Sherbinin is the Associate Director for Science Applications at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), an environmental data and analysis center within The Earth Institute at Columbia University specializing in the human aspects of global environmental change. He is a geographer whose research interests focus on the human aspects of global environmental change and environmental sustainability, as well as geospatial data applications, integration, and dissemination. He has conducted research on a range of topics, including environmental indicators; climate vulnerability mapping; climate change and migration; urban climate vulnerability and resilience; population dynamics and the environment; and remote sensing applications for environmental treaties.

He serves as deputy manager of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC); co-Coordinator of the Population-Environment Research Network (PERN); vice chair of the scientific committee of the International Council for Science (ICSU) World Data System (WDS); co-chair of the WDS-CODATA Citizen Science Data Task Group; and co-author of the biennial Environmental Performance Index (EPI).

de Sherbinin holds a PhD in Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation from ITC at the University of Twente (Netherlands), and MA and BA degrees in geography from Syracuse University and Dartmouth College, respectively.


Dr. Marco Tedesco is a Lamont Research Professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and Adjunct Scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS). He took his ME and PhD in Italy, then moved to NASA, where he spent five years as a postdoc and research scientist. In 2009, he moved to the City College of New York as Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2012. While at CCNY, he served as a Program Officer at the Polar Program of the National Science Foundation for 2 1/2 years.

In January 2016, he accepted his current position at Columbia University. Dr. Tedesco’s research interests concern remote sensing of the cryosphere, regional climate modeling of the polar regions, sea level rise, economic and financial implications of climate change and high-latitude fieldwork.


Yutian Wu is a Lamont Associate Research Professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. She researches the general circulation of the atmosphere, including the midlatitude jet streams, storm tracks and monsoon circulation, using observations and numerical model simulations. Dr. Wu’s recent research projects focus on understanding the impact of Arctic sea ice loss on the midlatitude weather and climate as well as understanding the summer monsoon circulation and its associated troposphere-stratosphere transport.

She is the recipient of the 2017 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. Before joining Lamont, Dr. Wu worked as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University and before that, a postdoctoral research associate at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Dr. Wu received Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Columbia University in 2011.

Suzana Camargo
James Davis
Steve Chillrud
Lex Van Geen
David Goldberg
Jonahan Hollander
Frank Nitsche
Ajit Subamaniam
Michael Previdi
Beizhan Yan
Alex De Sherbinin
Yutian Wu
Marc Tedesco
Ed Garvey
Robert (Bob) Newton
Einat Lev
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