News Story

April 10, 2014

HUCE Names New Cohort of Environmental Fellows


The Harvard University Center for the Environment extends a warm welcome to the newest class of Environmental Fellows: Marie-Abèle Bind, Tim Cronin, Zoe Nyssa, and Yige Zhang. These fellows will join a group of remarkable scholars who will be beginning the second year of their fellowships. Together, the Environmental Fellows at Harvard will form a community of researchers with diverse backgrounds united by intellectual curiosity, top-quality scholarship, and a drive to understand some of the most important environmental challenges facing society.

Marie-Abèle Bind

"Causal Inference Methods to Investigate the Role of Temperature on Health"

Marie-Abèle Bind is an environmental biostatistician interested in health effects from environmental exposures.

Marie-Abele earned a MSc. in Engineering (Specialization in Energy and Environment) in 2007 at one of France’s Grandes Ecoles. She then received a MSc. in Environmental Health in a one-year intensive program at the Cyprus Institute associated with the Harvard School of Public Health. In 2014 she received a dual Doctor of Science (Sc.D) degree in Environmental Health and Biostatistics from HSPH. Marie’s dissertation focused mainly on developing and applying methods to investigate the role of epigenetics in air pollution health effects. While working toward her Sc.D degree, Marie-Abele graduated from HUCE’s Graduate Consortium on Energy and Environment and received a MSc. in Biostatistics from HSPH.

Marie-Abele will work with Donald Rubin of the Department of Statistics to explore how temperature increases due to climate change will impact cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, especially in susceptible populations. Most epidemiological studies have focused on associations between temperature and health outcomes rather than causal effects. Marie-Abele plans to estimate causal temperature health effects. Within the field of causal inference, mediation analysis has become a valuable tool to examine pathways, especially in epidemiological research. She will extend previous causal effects derivations to settings with mortality outcomes and formalize mediated effects. Moreover, there is a recent interest for epigenomics data to examine new pathways. She will also examine the causal temperature effect on epigenome wide data in order to identify new biological mechanisms.


Tim Cronin

"Arctic Atmospheric Convection in a Warmer World"

Tim Cronin is a climate scientist interested in the interactions between clouds, sea ice, and severe storms in a warmer Arctic.

Tim earned a B.A. in Physics from Swarthmore College in 2006, and received a Ph.D. in Climate Physics and Chemistry from MIT in June 2014. His dissertation research used simple column models of the atmosphere, interacting with a land surface, to explore a collection of problems in climate science. One of the papers he published developed a theory for the sensitivity of near-surface temperatures to changes in land surface properties, which is relevant for understanding how anthropogenic land use and land cover change may have resulted in past and future climate change. Tim has also worked on trying to understand why it rains preferentially over islands in the tropics, and whether geologic changes around Indonesia have implications for climate changes over the past 3-5 million years. During the 2011-2012 academic year, he was a Martin Society Fellow for Sustainability, and his work has also been funded by the NSF.

As an Environmental Fellow, Tim will work with Eli Tziperman of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences on the interaction between clouds and sea ice in the Arctic, in climates that are warmer than present. His project has application to warmer climates of the distant past, as well as climates of the future. Tim will also explore the potential for the formation of hurricane-like storms over a warmer Arctic ocean that has lost much of its sea ice; such storms would be highly relevant to the impacts of climate change on both human and natural systems in the future Arctic.


Zoe Nyssa

"Endangered Logics: The Unintended Consequences of Conservation Science"

Zoe Nyssa studies the emergence and contemporary practices of conservation biology in order evaluate their impact globally on endangered species.

Zoe earned her Hon. B.Sc. in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Toronto, an M.A. at the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in the Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation research examined the rapid growth of conservation science from the 1980s to the present through quantitative and qualitative analyses of environmental research, collaboration, and academic curricula. Her work has been supported by several fellowships and grants, including an Andrew W. Mellon dissertation year fellowship in 2013-2014 from the University of Chicago, a Predoctoral Fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, and a Student Fellowship from the University of Minnesota Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment and the Life Sciences.

As an Environmental Fellow, Zoe will work with Sheila Jasanoff in the Program on Science, Technology and Society at the Kennedy School of Government. Comparing conservation-oriented programs in the U.S., Australia, Britain, Canada, and Germany, the project tracks the disciplinary re-organizations of conventional ecological science in different institutional contexts to support new biodiversity objectives. Arguing that these new conservation practices are remaking not just environmental knowledge and policies but materially reshaping environments themselves, this research provides a framework for evaluating the heterogeneous and often surprising consequences of conservation interventions worldwide.


Yige Zhang

"Resolving the Late Miocene CO2 Climate Sensitivity “Paradox” Using Biomarkers and Their Stable Isotopes"

Yige Zhang is a geochemist interested in understanding how the Earth evolved chemically, and using various geochemical tools to study climate change of the geological past.

Yige earned his B.S. in geochemistry at Nanjing University, China (2007), a M.S. in Marine Sciences from the University of Georgia in 2009. His M. Phil. (2011) and Ph.D. (2014) are from Yale University. During his PhD, his research is focused on climate reconstructions and modeling of the Cenozoic greenhouse – icehouse transition, including the Oligocene, Miocene and Pliocene epochs. He used geochemical proxies from marine sediments to understand ocean temperatures, atmospheric CO2 levels and continental ice volume over a series of global climate change events.

As an Environmental Fellow, Yige will be working with Ann Pearson from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. He plans to develop improved atmospheric CO2 estimates in the Miocene, using organic geochemistry methodologies and novel approaches to isotope-ratio mass spectrometry. His goal is to resolve the Miocene CO2 climate sensitivity “paradox,” an issue confronting his field in which current reconstructions show a puzzling relationship between stable, or even increased, CO2 concentrations during substantial surface seawater cooling. Yige hopes to resolve this climate sensitivity puzzle, which currently suggests that CO2 either played a minor role or that our proxy methods for measuring CO2 levels during that period are flawed.

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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