Program of Study
The distinctive and innovative nature of this program requires a core set of courses that provide an interdisciplinary grounding. Each of these courses is taught on the level expected of first- or second-year PhD students in the affiliated departments. The course structure is designed to provide students with PhD-level training in economics and a natural science field, complemented by integrative courses in sustainable development designed specifically for this program and courses in social sciences. The course structure is designed to combine flexibility to pursue an individual field of study, with the development of broad-based skills and knowledge. The core curriculum consists of around 10 core courses, listed below. Students must also complete two social science electives, and a coherent sequence of four natural science courses for a minimum total of 60 credits and should maintain an overall B+ average with no lower than a B- in any of the core classes. In addition to course work, students participate in integrative seminars (U9200/01) throughout the first three years of the program, and complete the MA thesis and take an Orals Exam (leading to the MPhil Degree), in addition to presenting and defending a PhD dissertation.
Due to the unique interdisciplinary content of the program, students entering with a master’s degree earned at Columbia or elsewhere are still required to complete all MA and MPhil course requirements and examinations.
Credit transfers for previously held degrees, while rare, may be accorded at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS).
Students must establish an advisor, who generally serves as the first reader of the MA thesis, before the end of the fourth semester, ideally earlier. The DGS and Program Faculty will assist in helping select an advisor and an advisory committee. The committee ideally comprises of 2-3 members, one of whom is the academic advisor and must be a member of the SIPA faculty. The remaining research advisors can be from other Columbia schools and departments and/or from a different university. An advisor from a different university cannot be the academic advisor. The advisory committee should include faculty whose expertise covers the social and natural sciences. These advisors will generally make up both your Orals and Dissertation Committees.
For the first one or (at most) two academic years the DGS will have the role of academic advisor. The role of the advisor is to guide and monitor research progress including reporting to GSAS on the progress of the student, sitting in on Orals and Defense committees, selecting an appropriate advisor/s, and other associated duties. All first and second years are required to attend two advising sessions per semester, once at the start of the semester and again toward the end of the semester prior to registration, with the DGS, Program Coordinator, and Econ Advisor. Upper year students will be required to meet once per semester. These meetings will be arranged by the Program Coordinator. Once an advisor has been chosen, students are expected to meet with him/her on a regular basis.
2. Service Requirements
In addition to the completion of the requirements for the MA and the MPhil, students have to fulfill a teaching and research requirement. This entails six semesters of work as a Teaching Fellow (TF) or a Graduate Research Fellow (GRF), as assigned by the Program Coordinator. Students typically serve as TAs in SIPA master-level courses as well as a few undergraduate courses. Students who secure external fellowship funding may reduce this requirement with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, but in all cases every student must TA at least two semesters. TA/RA assignments for the following academic year are generally released in late May or early June.
Please note that given the program’s large teaching commitments, and limited Research Assistantship opportunities, it is preferable that students only act as Research Assistants for one academic year.
3. Sixth Year
The PhD in sustainable development is designed and supported as a five-year program. It is recognized that some students may need to extend their studies for all or part of a sixth year. While this can be accommodated administratively, students cannot assume that funds will be available to support a sixth year of study, and they are urged to make efforts to secure fellowship support or obtain funds through their advisors or from outside sources. A list of awards and fellowships pertinent to the program can be requested from the Program Coordinator.
Sixth year extensions may be granted as exceptions and must not be assumed.
You must fulfill a total of 60 credits from the following: Sustainable Development (21 credits), Economics (16 credits), one course is Qualitative Analysis (3 credits), Natural Sciences (9 credits), Social Science (6 credits), and one elective (3 credits). This coursework (with the exception of 2 of the 6 semesters of SDEV U9200/01, which are completed in the 3rd year) is ideally completed within the first four semesters of the Program.
Sustainable Development: 21 credits
Course # Course Name Pts 1 SDEV U9200/01 (*) Sustainable Development Seminar (6 semesters) 9 2 SDEV U9240 Human Ecology 4 3 SDEV U9245 Environment and Resource Economics 3 4 SDEV U6240 Environmental Science for Sustainable Development 4 5 SDEV U9248 Collective Action in Global Sustainable Development 3
SDEV course descriptions can be found here.
Please note that as the program grows, those courses, with the exception of the seminar, that count toward the 22 SDEV credits required may change. Please consult with the DGS or Program Coordinator should you have questions regarding coursework to fulfill the SDEV requirement.
(*)Two of three required sections are completed in the third year.
Economics: 16 credits
Prior to the start of the first academic year, all incoming students are required to participate in an intensive Summer Econ Math Camp. Entry into all first year econ courses requires passing the Math Camp final exam. Students who do not pass the exam will postpone econ coursework to the following academic year and enroll in courses with content specific to the skill gaps of each students (ie: math methods or an undergrad/masters level econ course).
Any students who does poorly on the exam will be required to attend tutorng during the academic year.
Course # Course Name Semester Fulfilled Pts 1 ECON G6211 Microeconomic Analysis I 1st 4 2 ECON G6210 Microecnomic Analysis II 2nd 4 3 ECON G6411 Intro to Econometrics I 1st 4 4 ECON G6412 Intro to Econometrics II 2nd 4
Quantitative Analysis: 3 credits
Natural Sciences: 9 credits
A total of 4 (*) natural sciences from any of the following departments: Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology (EEEB); Earth and Environmental Sciences (DEES); Environmental Health Sciences (EHS); Earth and Environmental Engineering (SEAS) or another DGS approved natural science department.
(*) SDEV U6240 counts as the 4th Natural Science course and is recorded under the SDEV section.
Social Sciences: 6 credits (can be completed in the 3rd year)
Elective: 3 Credits
One course related to one's research that does not fall within the above categories or goes beyond the credits required for any of the above. DGS approval required.
Colloquium: All SDEV students are also encouraged to attend the weekly SDEV Colloquium during their first year and throughout the duration of the program. Colloquium is an opportunity for SDEV students to informally present their research projects and ideas, and recieve feedback from members of the program.
Ideally, the MA would be completed before the start of the fifth semester, however, given the heavy required course load in the 1st and 2nd years, this deadline can be extended up to, but not beyond, except in extreme circumstances, the start of the sixth semester.
The Master’s thesis should address a problem in sustainable development using data and/or theory together with methodologies from the core courses completed in the first two years of the program. The thesis consists of an article (around 30 pages long).
- In concert with the DGS, a thesis advisor should be chosen and approved. You should be working with the advisor throughout the writing of the thesis.
- A draft of the Masters paper should be submitted to the research advisor(s) for comments and feedback. Once all revisions have been completed, the thesis should be resubmitted for final approval by the advisor.
- A copy of the thesis should then be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). Once the DGS approves, Program Coordinator should be notified for processing. Please note that on occassion an additional reader may be assigned by the DGS for a "second read." This is not unusual, and generally occus when the DGS is seeking comment from a reader more familiar with the research and/or subject matter.
- Once the thesis has been approved by the DGS, you must complete the Application of Degree or Certificate form and return it to the Diploma Division, 210 Kent Hall. Please note that due dates for May and October conferral can be found on the Registrar's Office website.
Please note that in addition to the completion of the MA thesis, to receive the degree, students are required to hold a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, and complete all coursework and receive letter grades to replace all marks of Incompete (IN) or Credit Pending (CP), whether or not the course is required for the degree.
Job Market: It is important throughout the program to be considering the job market, ie: which academic market (for example, econ vs policy or natural science) you plan to go on, when you plan to go on the market, and the type of job you'd like to have once the program is complete (ie: academic vs private sector). You can find a suggested timeline here.
Ideally, the MPhil should be completed by the end of the sixth semester, and must be completed before beginning full-time work on the dissertation.
Students can begin examinations for the MPhil in Sustainable Development only after they have completed all core courses described above, the natural science course sequence and the social science elective sequence, as well as the MA thesis. In order to take the oral examinations for the M. Phil., students must also submit a dissertation prospectus. Examination of the prospectus and fields of scholarship are completed ideally by the end of the third year.
1. Completion of the MA requirements described above with a minimum of 60 credits and a B+ average
2. Completion of all third-year required courses:
- Social Sciences: Two social science electives.
- Elective Courses: Students can register for as many additional courses as they need after completion of their requirements. Continued participation in the Sustainable Development seminar is also required (students are required to register for the seminar in their first three years and are encouraged to attend throughout their tenure).
3. Completed at least 4 out of 6 semesters of service requirements (Teaching Fellow, TF or Graduate Research Fellow, GRF appointments). Students with outside funding need to complete a minimum of 2 TF appointments.
4. Fulfillment of requirements to prove competency in two research tools. Students should possess at least two research tools before starting the dissertation portion of this program.
- The first demonstrates an advanced understanding of quantitative methods, to be gained through the mandatory core courses in quantitative methods (Introduction to Econometrics I and II, and a third Quantitative Analysis course).
- The other research tool should be appropriate to the student's dissertation work. In consultation with the student's academic advisers, this second tool could be fulfilled through a two-course sequence in GIS or other analytic modeling systems, or through a proficiency examination in a language that may be particularly important for understanding the literature of the student's chosen specialty, and selected with the approval of the academic adviser. English is not accepted as a foreign language in fulfillment of this requirement.
5. Successful completion of the MPhil Qualifying Exams (Orals):
Students are eligible to take the qualifying examinations (Orals) for the MPhil at the end of their third year or early in their fourth year, and must take the exam before the end of the fourth academic year at the latest, after satisfactory completion of all required coursework, and having obtained a GPA not less than B+.
The Oral Examination is a student's opportunity to present his/her research ideas and, through the prospectus, to begin to guide research toward a strong and cohesive dissertation and, hopefully, an effective job market paper. The student are likely to have the attention of 3-4 experts in the field listening to students and his/her ideas and providing timely and constructive feedback to this extent again, take advantage of this time.
Below you will find a detailed, step-by-step, explanation of the orals process. Please note that parts I and III of the process are strict, however, the format of the examination itself (part II), including timing and, to a lesser extent, content, can be altered in consultation with your advisor and the DGS; It is, however, recommended that you adhere to the format as closely as possible.
The purpose of the exam is three-fold. One is, through examination of the dissertation prospectus/proposal prepared by the student, to assess whether the proposed can be carried out successfully and that a suitable dissertation would result. Second, the student must show that they have the training and ability to do the research they propose to do. Third, it must be shown that the dissertation research is salient to a critical issue or issues in the broad field of sustainable development.
The qualifying examinations takes up to two hours for the student to complete and up to 30 minutes for the committee to discuss the exam in the absence of the candidate. Below you will find a detailed, step-by-step, explanation of the orals process. Please note that parts I and III of the process are strict, however, the format of the examination itself (part II), including timing and, to a lesser extent, content, can be altered in consultation with your advisor. It is, however, recommended that you adhere to the format as closely as possible.
Part I: Pre-Oral Exam
- Submit your proposal to your adviser for approval.
- Choose an examination committee of 3-4 individuals will be chosen in consultation with John Mutter, the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), and your advisor. This step should begin prior to adviser and DGS approval of the prospectus, if the prospectus is close to being complete and approved. Once the committee is chosen, they should be contacted at least five weeks prior to the exptected presentationm date to confirm their willingness to participate. Once you have selected your committee, please send the committee members’ names and covering fields to the Program Coordinator.
The committee should be made up of the following: One or more members of the examination committee may be from outside SIPA. Except under extraordinary circumstances (COVID 19 restrictions, for instance) one member of the committee can contribute remotely. Please note that you are not permitted to choose your committee without consulting the DGS and your adviser:
- With few exceptions, the DGS will be one member of the committee. To discuss alternatives, please contact the DGS and your adviser
- One will be your major advisor
- One faculty member must represent each of the following, which can be fulfilled by one of the above: social science, natural science, sustainable development, and (optional) your particular area of study.
- Submit dissertation prospectus to the DGS for approval:
- The dissertation prospectus can be in the form of a regular size document or in the form of three separate but connected papers.
- It needs to be distinct from the Masterʼs thesis, though it can build on the research done for it.
- The prospectus should be apx 40 pages and cover the methods and objectives of the research projects. For those writing 3 papers, the prospectus should describe all three.
- Request reading lists from your committee members. There is no longer a SustDev specific reading list, however, you can contact your committee members to see if they have a reading list.
- Arrange a date/time for the exam. The Program Coordinator will work with your committee members to set a date and time, as well as booking a room. You should set aside 2.5 hours for the exam.
Once approved by the DGS, distribute dissertation prospectus to your examination committee no less than three weeks prior to the Oral exam.
Part II: Oral Examination
Formal presentation of the dissertation prospectus/proposal, usually accompanied by a slide presentation (30-40 minutes)
- Questioning by committee can occur by interruption during the presentation or by a designated period of time following presentation of each section of the dissertation (30-40 minutes)
- The exam includes assessment of the proficiency in fields most relevant to the proposed research, from within the following three subjects (30-40 minutes).
- Economics (e.g. development economics, environmental economics)
- Natural science (e.g. hydrology, climatology) or engineering.
- Sustainable development (the general, integrative field in which the relevant coursework and proposed research resides)
- Evaluation by committee members in absence of candidate.
- Recommendations to the student by the committee as to the results of their discussion. It is the role of the advisor to follow up and ensure that the committee recommendations are followed.
Part III: Post-Examination: Complete and submit the Application for MPhil form to the Program Coordinator for processing. Please note that due dates for May and October conferral dates can be found on the GSAS Dates and Deadlines page.
The Core faculty and the DGS will exercise their judgment in determining, on the basis of the student’s full record, whether he or she should be awarded an MPhil and advance to the PhD candidacy.
1. The PhD dissertation
The PhD dissertation will be on a social science topic in sustainable development. The social science research will be informed by an understanding of physical and natural science constraints and opportunities influencing economic development.
Students with a regional area of interest to their dissertation may wish to do research abroad, to conduct field studies, use archives, improve language skills, or confer with local experts. It is preferred that students make use of summers to conduct such research. Given this preference, requests for approval of summer courses and internships are generally denied.
Students who feel they require a longer period of field research or language training need the approval of their advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies.
2. PhD Defense
The dissertation defense is in some ways like "Orals on steroids" with the critical exception that the candidate for the degree has the upper hand.
Unlike Orals, this is not a test of your breadth and depth of knowledge, but a defense of what has resulted from your research. Since it is your research you are the person most familiar with it, and that is what gives you the upper hand. The emphasis is on what new contributions you have made to your field of study, so you need not elaborate on the methods you have used unless your work has resulted in the advancement of a method. You might get questions about methods or data etc, but you should focus on what you have achieved in your research that is genuinely new.
The defense begins with a presentation, typically with a PowerPoint or equivalent presentation, that can take as much as 45 minutes. Questions usually come at the end of each chapter (like Orals) or logical divisions of the work. Unlike Orals, the examining committee is not as discipline-based. The external committee member is chosen to ensure that someone on the committee is completely neutral, having not been involved with your progress as a student in any way, but who is familiar with your field of study. It is common for that person to be present by Skype. Please note that no more than two members of the defense committee can participate via Skype.
The defense takes no more than 2 hours with the candidate present. An additional 30 minutes is included for the committee to deliberate without the candidate present to determine the outcome (pass/minor revisions, incomplete/major revisions, or fail). The candidate is made aware of the outcome after that deliberation.
The following steps must be taken to complete the defense:
a. Candidates must consult with their advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies and Program Coordinator about scheduling the defense.
b. The final examination will not be scheduled until the Director of Graduate Studies has recommended the dissertation for defense. A five-person examining committee will be appointed by the department and must be approved by GSAS. At least three of the members of the final defense committee must be inside examiners (holding a formal appointment or approved as a dissertation sponsor at SIPA), and at least one of the five must be an outside examiner. See definition of an “outside examiner” here.
In addition, at least three of the five examiners must be approved dissertation sponsors.
c. The DGS will then officially invite the examiners. Once the committee has been confirmed, the Program Coordinator should be notified and will begin the process of setting a date and reserving a room.
(Please note that students should not ask particular faculty members to serve on their defense committees, nor should they make final arrangements for the defense. These tasks should be completed by the DGS and/or Program Coordinator.)
d. The Application for Defense must be completed by the Candidate and the Director of Graduate Studies and submitted by the Program Coordinator to the GSAS Dissertation office.
e. Members of the PhD examining committee must be given a minimum of three weeks each to read the thesis, so the defense may comfortably be scheduled after distribution. Prior to this, the candidate must submit to the dissertation sponsor and DGS draft copies of the thesis, including figures, plates and tables for approval. Approval indicates only that the thesis as it stands or with revisions suggested by them is in good enough form to justify scheduling the defense.)
f. The candidate must see that outstanding fees or loans to the University are paid and make sure that he/she has fulfilled all other Departmental requirements.
g. After passing the final examination, the candidate must see to any minor revisions and their approval by the examining committee before final deposit. If major revisions were called for (a defense-vote of “incomplete”), these must be made and submitted within a stated period (usually no fewer than three months and no longer than one year from the date of the defense) to the committee members, whose approval will have to be certified in writing before the candidate can be recorded as having passed the final examination. From the time of the “pass” vote, the student has a maximum of six months to deposit the thesis.
h. Obtain approval to deposit your dissertation. This is done using the Approval Card, given to you upon passing your defense. After your revisions are approved, the card must be signed by your sponsor, as well as your department Chair or program Director. These signatures allow you to deposit your dissertation.
i. Deposit your dissertation with GSAS. This is the final step to earning the Ph.D. degree. Complete information regarding the deposit is available through the Deposit Gateway.
Please note that open defenses are no longer permitted by GSAS.
You can find further information on the GSAS process and policy for distribution, defense, and deposit of the defense here. Please note that due dates for May and October conferral dates can be found on the GSAS Dates and Deadlines page.
1. Time to Completion
The ideal time to degree for the sustainable development PhD is five years. Students are guaranteed funding through their fifth year, however, extensions beyond a fifth can be granted annually, but funding is not guaranteed. Once a student extends beyond the sixth year, with the excpetion of an approved Leave of Absence or Parental Accommodation, his/her progress is no longer satisfactory. A student who fails to maintain satisfactory progress will be advised of corrective steps to take, and be apprised of the consequences of failing to take those steps. A student who fails to maintain satisfactory progress after such a probationary period will have his/her candidacy terminated.
SIPA and GSAS consider progress to be minimally satisfactory when a student completes each of the requirements as follows:
- M.A. degree within five semesters of full-time study
- M.Phil. degree within eight semesters of full-time study
- Dissertation prospectus or proposal must be successfully defended within eight semesters of first enrolling in the program
- M.A./M.Phil./Ph.D. within 18 semesters or nine years of full-time study
Students who do not complete all requirements for the doctoral degree by the end of the ninth year (Nine Year Policy for Time to the PhD Degree) will no longer be considered Ph.D. degree candidates and will be notified accordingly in writing.
These time-to-degree requirements are the maximum registration for the M.A./M.Phil./Ph.D. in the Graduate School. Failure to comply with these requirements will indicate a lack of satisfactory academic progress toward the degree.
2. GPA and Incompletes
a. Students must also maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 within the program. The MA will not be granted if the GPA is below a 3.0. The cumulative GPA is derived from all courses in which a student has registered and received a letter grade (not P/F).
b. Students must not hold more than one mark of Incomplete at a time.
Governance and Faculty
The PhD in Sustainable Development is housed in the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and the degree, as all graduate degrees at Columbia, is awarded by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences(GSAS). The program is directed by Professor John Mutter.
Faculty who participate in the program by advising students, teaching in required courses or serving on committees, etc. are drawn from a wide variety of schools and departments in addition to SIPA. A student’s primary advisor need not be a SIPA faculty member but should be a member of the Columbia faculty.
The PhD Program Committee is the primary governing body of the program and is chaired by the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor John Mutter, and includes Merit Janow, the Dean of SIPA, and a number of other members, including Professor Douglas Almond (SIPA and Econ), Professor Mark Cane (DEES and APAM), Professor Geoffrey Heal (Business School and SIPA), Professor Upmanu Lall (Engineering), Professor Jeff Sachs (Earth Institute), Professor Wolfram Schlenker (SIPA and Econ), and Tomara Aldrich the Sustainable Development Program Coordinator. This committee is responsible for all program oversight and management decisions including procedures for orals, defenses and curriculum issues.
In addition to the above committee, the following listed faculty have indicated their interest in the program including their willingness to advise students and teach in the program. These faculty members are drawn from SIPA and other departments and schools of Columbia University in order to fulfill the interdisciplinary needs of the program.
Given the variety of interests and eventual research areas pursued by SDEV students, the program has established a set of “Research Liaison” faculty who represent those areas most commonly of interest to the SDEV students. The role of these faculty is to act as advisors or “points of contact” once a student has expressed an inclination toward a specific field of research. These discipline areas include: Climate, Water and Engineering, Energy, Public Health, Urbanization, Transportation, Engineering, Ecology and Energy. Research Liaisons have been noted with an (*) in the faculty list below.
John C. Mutter
Professor of International and Public Affairs; Director of Graduate Studies, PhD in Sustainable Development; Professor, Earth & Environmental Sciences
Research Interests: Science-based Issues in Sustainable Development, Natural Disasters
Professor of International and Public Affairs and Economics
Research Interests: China, Health Economics, Education, Environment
Lenfest Professor of Natural Resource Economics at SIPA and the Earth Institute
Research Interests: Global Institutions
Professor of Economics and of International and Public Affairs
Research Interests: labor economics, education economics, intergenerational mobility, discrimination
G. Unger Vetlesen Professor Emeritus of Earth and Climate Sciences and Professor Emeritus of Applied Physics and Applied Math; Special Research Scientist in the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Research Interests: Climate Change
Professor of International and Public Affairs
Research Interests: Climate Change, Corporate Governance, Impact Investing, Innovation, Sustainable Finance Inequality and Global Health
Lecturer in Discipline of International and Public Affairs
Research Interests: Microeconomic Theory: Game Theory and Contracts; Industrial Organization; Labor Economics
Paul Garret Professor of Public Policy and Business Responsibility, Donald C. Waite III Professor of Social Enterprise
Research Interests: Risk, Environmental Economics, Decision Making
(*) Jackie Klopp
Co-director of the Center for Sustainable Urban Development
Research Interests: sustainable transport, land use, accountability, air pollution, climate change, and data and technology
(*) Upmanu Lall
Alan and Carol Silberstein Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering (DEES) and of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics; Department Chair - DEES
Research Interests: Water, Climate Change, Environment, Natural Resource Management
(*) Vijay Modi
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Research Interests: Environment, Energy Policy
(*) Shahid Naeem
E3B Professor, Chair of the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
Research Interests: ecological and environmental consequences of biodiversity loss on ecosystems
Associate Professor of Economics and International and Public Affairs
Research Interests: Development Economics, Labor Economics, Political Economy
Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Mailman School of Public Health; Sustainable Development Job Placement Director
Research Interests: Big Data; Environmental Health
Research Scientist in the International Research Institute for Climate and Society
Research Interests: Climate Information & Financial Mechanisms, Insurance Design & Evaluation, Probabilistic Information in Decision-Making
Christian (Kiki) Pop-Eleches
Associate Professor of International and Public Affairs
Research Interests: Applied Microeconomics, Labor/Development, Demography
Professor of Economics
Research Interests: Contract Theory, Insurance Economics, Labor Economics, Theoretical and Applied Econometrics
Professor of International and Public Affairs
Research Interests: Agricultural Economics, Natural Resource Economics, Applied Microeconomics, Water, Environmental Economics, Climate Change
(*) Richard Seager
Palisades Geophysical Institute/Lamont Research Professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Research Interests: Climate Variability, Climate Change Global Hydroclimate, Climate Dynamic Processes in the Atmosphere and Ocean
(*) Jeff Shaman
Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences
Research Interests: Environmental Determinants of Infectious Disease Transmission, Climate, Atmospheric Science and Hydrology, Biology
Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs
Research Interests: environmental economics, labor economics
Lemann Professor of Brazilian Public Policy and International and Public Affairs
Research Interests: Development economics, ranging from labor, human capital, and demographic economics to institutions and crime
Professor of International and Public Affairs and Economics; Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, School of International and Public Affairs
Research Interests: Trade, Development and Labor Economics, Latin America
Students and Alumni
The Sustainable Development student is unique. Students come from a variety of backgrounds, both academically, ranging from Literature to Chemistry and Philosophy to Economics, and career-wise. They are culturally and ethnically diverse, and each brings with him/her a unique background that informs the shape and focus of the program.
You can find more information on the SustDev students on the Student Profiles page.
For a complete list of alumni placements, please visit the SIPA Job Placement page.
Saifedean Ammous, 2011
Dr. Saifedean Ammous is an economist and author of The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking, the first academic treatment of the economics of digital currencies.
He is the Founder and CEO of saifedean.com.
Sandra Aguilar, 2021
Sandra's research lie primarily in understanding the consequences of environmental degradation and the challenges governments face in implementing policies in contexts with underlying structural inequalities or weak institutions. She is an Assistant Professor at the Universidad de los Andes- AP of Economics.
Francis Annan, 2018
Francis' research centers on development economics and microeconomic issues, with a focus on digital financial markets, insurance, and firms in sub-Saharan Africa, India, and the United States.
Francis is now an Assistant Professor at UC Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
Jesse Antilla-Hughes, 2012
Jesse's current research areas include: public health impacts of the climate; behavioral responses to new information about environmental risks; and determinants of the spread of environmental attitudes and ideas. He is an Associate Professor of Economics University of San Francisco.
Belinda Archibong, 2015
Belinda's research areas include development economics, political economy, economic history and environmental economics with an African regional focus. Belinda is an Assistant Professor in the Economics Department at Barnard College.
Sandra Baquié, 2021
Sandra's main research research projects combine Economics with Natural Sciences to study human-environment interactions. They range from the study of antibiotic resistance to the analysis of resilience to natural disasters in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sandra is a Young Professional at the World Bank and an Economist specializing in Development, Environmental, and Health Economics.
Xiaojia Bao, 2013
Xiaojia's research fields include Applied Microeconomics, Environmental Economics, Public Economics, Development Economics. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Wang Yanan Institute for Studies in Economics at University Xiamen.
Jessica Barnes, 2010
Dr. Barnes's research examines the culture and politics of resource use and environmental change. Jessica is an Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina in the Department of Geography.
Prabhat Barnwal, 2015
Prabhat research areas include Development Economics and Environmental and Energy Economics. He is now an Assistant Professor in the Economics Department at Michigan State.
Aaron Baum, 2016
Aaron's research interests the organization and delivery of primary care, value-based payment models, quality of care, population health, and global health using econometric and statistical learning methods. Aaron is Analytics and Economics Lead at Waymark.
Steffen Bixby (nee Merte), 2017
Steffen Vice President is the Head of U.S. Climate Analytics at Iss | Institutional Shareholder Services
Mehdi Benatiya Andaloussi, 2019
Mehdi is Economist at the International Monetary Fund.
Kayleigh B Campbell, 2017
Kayleigh's research explores how transportation shapes cities and the lives of people in cities, from quantifying the impact of bike sharing on bus ridership in New York City, to measuring mobility and accessibility in Nairobi, to exploring how historical urban development shapes carbon dioxide emissions. Kayleigh is currently a Senior Transportation Economist at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
Zhihan Cui, 2021
Zhihan is a behavioral economist and social/personality psychologist focusing on reducing human biases and promoting prosocial behaviors. He is currently a Post-Doctoral Scholar, Behavioral Decision Making, UCLA.
Anthony D'Agostino, 2017
Anthony is a applied microeconomist with primary research interests in international development and the environment. He is now a Senior Researcher at Mathematica Policy Research.
Denyse Dookie, 2019
Denyse's research interests include evaluating and using climate information for decision-making and climate change adaptation and development.
Denyse is now a Research Officer at the Grantham Research Institute for Climate Change & the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science.
Xinming Du, 2023
Xinming works on environmental economics, applied micro, and the digital economy. She will become work as an Assistant Professor in the Economics Department at National Singapore University in the Fall 2023.
Eugenie Dugoua, 2018
Eugenie's is an environmental economist working on topics related to innovation, technological change and energy. Eugenie is now an Assistant Professor in Environmental Economics at the London School of Economics, Geography and Environment Department.
Marion Dumas, 2015
Marion's research focuses on the economic and social transformations needed to decarbonise the economy. She is now an Assistant Professorial Research Fellow, Grantham Research Institute, London School of Economics.
Pablo Egaña del Sol, 2016
Pablo's He conducts research on applied economics, focusing on human capital, green innovation, and entrepreneurship. He is currently is an Assistant Professor, the inaugural director of the Master in Sustainable Business at the School of Business at Universidad Adolfo Ibanez, Santiago, and Principal Researcher at the Millenium Center of Evolution of Work (MNEW).
Ram Mukul Fishman, 2011
Ram is a development and environment economist, whose research is focused on sustainable agriculture, water scarcity and climate change, with an emphasis on developing countries. His work employs a mix of field work, field experiments and the analysis of socio-economic and environmental data. He is a senior lecturer of Public Policy at Tel Aviv University and the director of the Nitsan lab for sustainable development.
Timothy Foreman, 2019
Tim works on the economic implications of climate change for labor supply, land use, and international conflict, and how these can be mitigated by policy. He is currently a Research Associate at Qatar Centre for Global Banking & Finance, King’s Business School, King’s College London
Eyal Frank, 2017
Eyal is an environmental economist who studies how economic activities reduce levels of natural capital, specifically in the form of biodiversity losses, and the effects this has on outcomes related to health, trade, and labor markets. He is an Assistant Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy and the Energy Policy Institute (EPIC) at the University of Chicago.
Habtamu Fuje, 2016
Habtamu is an Economist with a special interest in trade and labor economics, applied macroeconomics, climate change, and other macro-critical structural issues. He is now an Economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Solomon Gofere, 2023
Solomon is interested broadly in the fields of health, environmental and development economics. He is primarily interested in health literacy, health care demand and health outcomes and in the relationship between health and the environment in general. He will begin work at the Analysis Group as an Analyst in Fall 2023.
Matthew Harrington, 2022
Matt's research focuses on applications and properties of machine learning to hydrology. Matt is now an Applied Scientist at Amazon.
Solomon Hsiang, 2011
Solomon Hsiang directs the Global Policy Laboratory at Berkeley, where his team is integrating econometrics, spatial data science, and machine learning to answer questions that are central to rationally managing planetary resources--such as the economic value of the global climate, how the UN can fight wildlife poaching, the effectiveness of treaties governing the oceans, and whether satellites and AI can be combined to monitor the entire planet in real time. He is now an Associate Professor at UC Berkeley, Goldman School of Public Policy.
Josephine research combines statistical approaches and data from economics, ecology, remote sensing, and machine learning to assess and address humans’ ecological footprint in natural and agricultural landscapes. She is will begin work as an Assistant Professor at the UBC Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, Department of Land and Food Systems in June 2023.
Amir Jina, 2014
Amir's main research interests include Development economics; Environmental economics; Climate impacts; Climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Amir is and Assistant Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
Geoffrey Chi-Johnston, 2012
Geoffrey is a senior data scientist at Cruise Automation.
Jaehyun Jung, 2018
Jaehyun's research focuses on sustainable development, in particular, environmental problems and their adverse impacts on health in developing countries. He is an Assistant Professor of International Studies at Ewha Woman's University.
Booyuel Kim, 2014
Booyuel's research interests span health and education issues in the developing countries as well as in Korea. He is associate professor of Graduate School of Environmental Studies at Seoul National University.
Chandra Kiran Krishnamurthy, 2011
Chandra's work is on applying the tools of economics to three broad areas relating to "sustainability": improving management of natural resources; designing "better" electricity markets; dealing with urban-transportation-related challenges.
Chandra is currently an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Forest Economics, SLU, Umeå. I was previously employed as a researcher at the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics
Stephanie Lackner, 2017
Stephanie's research revolves around natural hazards, the socioeconomic impacts of disasters and geospatial data analysis.
Stephanie is currently an Assistant Professor at School of Global and Public Affairs & Economics, Instituto de Empresa (IE University).
Kimberly Lai Oremus, 2017
Kimberly's current research interests include natural resource economics and policy; fisheries management; climate change and adaptation; international agreements
Kimberly is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Deleware College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.
Claire Palandri, 2022
Claire's research brings together the insights and methodological strengths of multiple disciplines to address such questions, and notably to study the animal farming system. She is deeply interested in the relation between humans and domesticated animals, and its position in the socio-ecological transition.
Claire is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Harris School of Public Policy.
Ruiwen Lee, 2020
Ruiwen researches environmental and energy economics using a wide range of data sources, including satellite imagery and survey data. Ruiwen’s professional experience includes economics and policy research at the Environmental Defense Fund, and political analysis at the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from Princeton University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the National University of Singapore.
Ruiwen is currently a Principal Economist and Data ScientistPrincipal Economist and Data Scientist at Eleos Labs
Margaret MacLeod, 2009
Margaret's research focuses on human capital formation and transfer in developing economies, specifically, education as well as maternal and infant health. Drawing from the field of Labor Economics, her methodological focus has been on randomized and quasi- experiments.
Margaret is currently a foreign services officer at the US Department of State.
Geoff McCarney, 2018
Geoff's research includes work at the interface of applied climate science, international development, and innovative applications of economic policy instruments.
Geoff is currently an Assistant Professor, Environment and Development, School of International Development and Global Studies & Director of Research, The Smart Prosperity Institute, and the Institute of the Environment at University of Ottawa.
Gordon McCord, 2011
Gordon's research employs spatial data analysis to explore topics such as sustainable land use, the evolving role of geography in economic development, the burden of infectious diseases such as malaria in a changing climate, the impact of agricultural technology diffusion and spatial patterns of violent conflict.
Gordon is an Associate Teaching Professor and Associate Dean at the University of California, San Diego in International Relations and Pacific Studies.
Kyle Meng, 2013
Kyle studies the equity and efficiency consequences of environmental policies, with a focus on climate policies.
Kyle is now an Associate Professor at the UC Santa Barbara, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management Department of Economics.
Anouch Missirian, 2020
Anouch's research chiefly revolves around agriculture and land use, and wherever ecological and economic processes collide Anouch is currently an Assistant Professor at Toulouse School of Economics.
Daiju Narita, 2008
Daiju's main research interest lies in the economics of climate change, in particular, theoretical and applied evaluations of economic costs on various aspects of climate change (including ocean acidification, damages of cyclones/typhoons, carbon dioxide capture and storage, and tipping-point risks). Daiju is now a Associate Professor in the School of Economics and Business Administration at Hokkaido University.
Nicole Ngo, 2013
Nicole's research includes public health, environmental policy, and urban sustainability. Nicole is now an Associate Professor at University of Oregon in the Planning, Public Policy, and Management program.
Anisa Khadem Nwachuku, 2011
Anisa is a Sustainable Development and Global Health consultant. Her work challenges core assumptions shaping development and the balance of economic power. At present, Anisa is a Senior COVID-19 Strategy Advisor at UNDP - United Nations Development Progam.
José Carlos Orihuela, 2010
José Carlos studies how institutions evolve, the forging of environmental governance, and the political economy of nature and natural resources. Currently, José Carlos is an Associate Professor of Economics at Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.
Mark Orrs, 2014
Mark's primary research interests have been in African economic growth and development, with approaches from the perspectives of health economics and gender and education. He is an Associate Teaching Professor at Department of Engineering, Design & Society at the Colorado School of Mines.
Lily Parshall Watcher, 2010
Currently, Lily is the Chief Financial Officer at Biomason.
James Rising, 2015
James' research interests include the impacts of climate change bringing together empirical estimates and integrated assessment models; Modeling of social-environmental systems focusing on complex systems, food and fisheries, and resource management.
James is now a Assistant Professor at Unviresity of Deleware, Earth, Ocean and Environment Program
Aly Sanoh, 2012
Aly's work encompasses analysis in the areas of poverty, fiscal policies, shocks, and local service delivery in the Sahel. Aly is now a Senior Economist, World Bank, Poverty and Equity Global Practice.
Charles Taylor, 2022
Charles' primary field is environmental economics and secondary field is health economics. His research interests include agriculture, land use, ecosystem services, and climate change. He is currently a S.V. Ciriacy-Wantrup Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley ARE. He will join the Harvard Kennedy School as an assistant professor.
Tse-Ling Teh, 2015
Ling's research focuses on how individuals respond to risk and information through their behaviour and decision making. Her research uses applied microeconomic theory and experimental games to understand how to improve welfare in risk transfer and social interactions. She is now an Assistant Professor at Bond University, Bond Business School.
Anna Tompsett, 2014
Anna's research primarily focuses on public goods: both on estimating the impacts of public goods on human development, and understanding the political processes that influence public good provision. Anna is now an Assistant Professor at Stockholm University in the Department of Economics.
Marta Vicarelli, 2011
Marta research interests include environmental economics and development economics. She is now an Assistant Professor at University of MA, Amherst in the Department of Economics.
Ana Varela Varela, 2020
Ana's research leverages methods from microeconometrics, data science, and remote sensing to improve our understanding of how environmental impacts unfold in an unequal and heterogeneous world. She is currently an Assistant Profesor at the Amsterdam School of Economics of the University of Amsterdam.
Jan von der Goltz, 2016
Jan's is an applied microeconomist and works on conflict and on environmental issues.He is now an Economist at World Bank.
Semee Yoon, 2015
Semee's research interests include science, technology and innovation (STI) for sustainable development, impact evaluation, development studies, and environmental economics. She ia an Assistant Professor in the Integrated Social Sciences Division, Underwood International College at Yonsei University.
Xueting (Sherry) Wang, 2021
Sherry's current work estimates load impacts of electricity demand response programs and conducts bill impact analysis in the energy market. She employs R, Matlab, Stata, and Python in research. She works as an Economist at Christensen Associates, Energy ConsultingChristensen Associates, Energy Consulting at the end of the summer.
Jason Wong, 2019
Jason's research focuses on the impact of aviation connectivity on regional economies and innovation, climate change impacts on aviation, and improving international agreements on sectoral emissions reductions. Jason is now an Assistant Professor of Economics at Occidetanl College..
Alice Tianbo Zhang, 2019
Alice's research seeks to use data and methods from economics, data science, and climate science to understand the impact of environmental change on economic development and human welfare. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Economics at Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics at Washington and Lee University.
Xiaojie Zhang, 2016
Xiaojie's research interests lie primarily on agriculture and community-based development in Africa. She hopes to weave environmental concerns and humanity research into project designs and public policies and to develop a social-economically and environmentally sustainable development approach. She is a Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company.
Nan Zhong, 2015
Nan's research areas include environmental economics, health and education. She is an Assistant Professor at Xiamen University, Wang Yanan Institute for Studies in Economics.