About Me

I'm a Ph.D. candidate in the Earth and Environmental Engineering Department at Columbia University advised by Upmanu Lall. If I'm not in the office, you can probably hear me yelling my support for La Albirroja, A.S. Roma, and Sportivo Luqueño, or explaining why New Haven apizza is better than the New York knockoffs.

What I Do

I work on designing and managing resilient infrastructure systems under uncertainty. Some topics I'm currently working on include:

  • Identifying and modeling the physical causal chain of high-impact climate extremes
  • Statistical and dynamical diagnostics of climate forecasts
  • Integrating engineering, financial, and policy tools for climate risk management
  • Applying Markov decision processes and reinforcement learning
  • Designing robust and interpretable algorithms for decision-making in critical systems
  • Assessing the distribution of climate risk over space, time, and social groups

If you are interested in any of these areas I would be delighted to discuss how we can collaborate! To learn about my previous work on these topics, see my publications.

Why I Do It

Growing up in the United States, I never thought much about having access to sufficient quantities of clean and safe drinking water. So, when the Fundación Paraguaya gave me the opportunity to work with them on a water access project in rural Paraguay, I assumed that the technical challenges would be within my grasp. Although I found I could understand calculations such as sizing pipes and motors or dosing chlorine, so could the people who operated and depended on the small systems! Instead, three months traveling around the country highlighted both the resilience and ingenuity of ordinary people, but also the vulnerability that societies face to external shocks such as prolonged drought, aquifer contamination, and economic collapse. Other water-related experiences in the US, Ethiopia, Cameroon, and Brazil have emphasized this point.

I love to develop quantitative and data-intensive tools so that I can better examine human-environment systems, probe where catastrophic events could happen, and look for solutions that reduce those risks. Research is always incremental, and I know that making even a dent in the huge collective challenges we face will require collaboration and luck, but if you're interested in these ideas I'd love to talk further!

Contact Me

The best way to contact me is through e-mail: james.doss-gollin@columbia.edu. You can also find me enthusiastically posting hot takes about water, energy, transit, and soccer on Twitter, uploading poorly organized repositories to GitHub, or (inexplicably) maintaining a profile on Linkedin. I look forward to hearing from you.