Research Symposium Shows the Diverse Expertise of Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellows

by |April 10, 2018
Attendees of the Postdoctoral Symposium

Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship Symposium on April 3, 2018. Photo: Avantika Goswami

The Earth Institute Postdoctoral Research program recently held its spring symposium to highlight the work of its current research fellows. Presentations ranged from the epidemiology of Lyme disease to the social and biological aspects of carbon sequestration.

Maron Greenleaf at the Postdoctoral Symposium

Maron Greenleaf. Photo: Avantika Goswami

Maron Greenleaf, who is an anthropologist and legal scholar, presented “The Untenured Forest: Land, Labor, and New Environmental Value in the Brazilian Amazon.” Her work focuses on the political and social effects of a renowned program to reduce emissions from deforestation in Acre, Brazil. This program attempts to redistribute the monetary value of carbon sequestering to poor rural land users who lack land rights.

Maria del Pilar Fernandez at the Postdoctoral Symposium

Maria del Pilar Fernández. Photo: Avantika Goswami

Maria del Pilar Fernández, a biologist combining traditional epidemiological research with eco-bio-social determinants, gave a talk titled, “Human-tick Interactions in Anthropogenic Landscapes: Coupled Social and Ecological Consequences of Habitat Fragmentation.” Her fieldwork, which will be conducted in Staten Island and Block Island this summer, examines the ecological and social factors driving the transmission of Lyme disease. For more information or to join Fernández’s smartphone app study, please visit

Kyle Davis at the Postdoctoral Symposium

Kyle Davis. Photo: Avantika Goswami

Kyle Davis, who is an Earth Institute postdoc and a NatureNet Science Fellow with The Nature Conservancy, presented “Assessing the Climate Resilience of Grain Production in India.” His study combines district-level crop production data with climate information to estimate the sensitivity of Indian grains (finger millet, maize, pearl millet, rice, and sorghum) to variability in temperature and precipitation.

Anand Osuri at the Postdoctoral Symposium

Anand Osuri. Photo: Avantika Goswami

Anand Osuri, also a NatureNet Science Fellow, discussed “Tree Diversity and Carbon Sequestration in Tropical Forests.” Osuri examines whether species-rich tropical forests sequester more carbon, more reliably, than species-poor forests. Preliminary findings indicate that conserving and restoring species-rich tropical forests can be beneficial for both biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation.

Ding Ma at the Postdoctoral Symposium

Ding Ma. Photo: Avantika Goswami

Ding Ma, who uses observational analysis and numerical modeling to understand large-scale atmospheric variability, gave a talk titled, “Flavors of the Intraseasonal Oscillations over the Asian Monsoon Region.” The equatorial Indian Ocean and western Pacific Ocean are characterized by envelopes of convection that move poleward and/or eastward during boreal summer. Ma’s work characterizes the structure and evolution of these events.

John Mutter at the Postdoctoral Symposium

The symposium was presented and moderated by John Mutter, director of the Earth Institute Postdoctoral Research program and professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Photo: Avantika Goswami

The Earth Institute’s Postdoctoral Research program is the premier program in the world for those dedicated to a better understanding of critical scientific and social issues in global sustainable development. It offers innovative postdoctoral scholars the unique opportunity to build a foundation in one of the core disciplines represented within the Earth Institute (i.e. social, earth, biological, engineering, and health sciences), while at the same time acquiring the breadth of cross-disciplinary expertise needed to address critical issues related to sustainable development.

A video recording of the symposium is available in five parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. Additional videos of past symposia can be found on our YouTube page.

For more information about the program or to apply for a fellowship, please visit or email

This post was updated on 8/15/2018 with video links.

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