My name is James and I'm a Ph.D. candidate in the Earth and Environmental Engineering Department at Columbia University. I'm affiliated with the Columbia Water Center, which my adviser Upmanu Lall directs. 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 stuff.
What I Do
I work on water and climate risk management problems at the intersection of physical science, statistics, operations research, and engineering. I'm especially interested in trade-offs between long- and short-term investments in climate adaptation, and how we can use climate predictability at different timescales to inform them. I'm also interested in studying the ways that climate risk aggregates -- across space, across time, and along supply chains -- particularly including supply chains for critical resources such as water and energy.
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!
The best way to contact me is through e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm also active on Twitter, and you can use any of the social icons on the navigation menu. I look forward to hearing from you!