New Environmental Fellows

The Harvard University Center for the Environment extends a warm welcome to the newest class of Environmental Fellows: Sebastian D. Eastham, Evan Herrnstadt, Melissa E. Kemp, Brian Lander, Daniel Madigan, Laura Martin and Gillian Osborne. 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.

Sebastian D. Eastham
School: School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Daniel Jacob
Ph.D: Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT

"Formation, persistence and impacts of synoptic-scale atmospheric layers"

Sebastian Eastham is an environmental scientist interested in the transport and impacts of pollutants and trace species over long distances through the atmosphere.

Sebastian received an MEng. in aerospace and aerothermal engineering from Cambridge University in 2011, with a dissertation on nuclear fuel cycle optimization. Between 2011 and 2015 he studied at MIT's Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment, working on a Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronautics dedicated to the human health impacts of high altitude emissions. This work included integration of stratospheric chemistry and physics into the Harvard GEOS-Chem atmospheric model, development of a health impacts model and assessment of the long-term surface air quality and UV radiation impacts of both aviation and proposed sulfate aerosol geoengineering techniques. He received his Ph.D. from the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 2015.

Sebastian will be working with Daniel Jacob in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to investigate the failure of Eulerian atmospheric models to reproduce observed synoptic-scale transport of pollution in narrow plumes and quasi-horizontal layers. Although a typical response to low model fidelity has been to increase global grid resolution and thereby incur significant computational cost, Sebastian is exploring the theoretical causes for enhanced numerical dissipation in these atmospheric structures. The goal of this research is to identify new and efficient modeling techniques capable of accurately reproducing and maintaining the observed high chemical gradients over global distances without requiring prohibitively fine global grid resolutions. By enabling accurate representation of long-distance pollutant transport and chemistry, Sebastian hopes to improve model accuracy with regards to intercontinental impact attribution.

Evan Herrnstadt
Department: Department of Economics
Faculty Advisor: Ariel Pakes
Ph.D: Economics, University of Michigan

"The Effects of Contracting Practices on the Performance of Energy and Natural Resource Markets"

Evan Herrnstadt is an economist interested in the design and performance of energy and natural resource markets.

Evan earned a B.S. in economics and political science from the University of Iowa in 2006.  After graduating, he was a research assistant at Resources for the Future in Washington, D.C., where he worked on energy and climate policy.  He moved to the University of Michigan in 2009, where he earned a M.A. in economics in 2011, and a Ph.D. in economics in 2015.  His doctoral research primarily focused on modeling and estimating the effects of environmental requirements on how firms compete for government contracts.

As an Environmental Fellow, Evan will work with Ariel Pakes of the Department of Economics on the implications of common contracting practices in the oil and natural gas drilling industry.  He will also develop improved empirical tools for the analysis of data from natural resource auctions.  These insights and tools will improve our understanding of important institutions governing energy production, and help to predict the response of the energy industry to climate and environmental policies.

Please visit Evan’s personal website for more information.

Melissa E. Kemp
Department: Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Faculty Advisor: Jonathan Losos
Ph.D: Biology, Stanford University

"Perching on a precarious future: Evaluating the impact of future environmental perturbations on Anolis species distributions using paleontological data"

Melissa Kemp is an evolutionary biologist who uses the fossil record and historical data to investigate species responses to global change phenomena.

Melissa earned her B.A. in biology from Williams College in 2010 and her Ph.D. in biology from Stanford University in 2015. At Williams, she studied the phylogeography of Indo-Pacific clownfish and the population genetics of chorus frogs. Her doctoral dissertation assessed the impact of environmental perturbations on the ecology and evolution of Caribbean lizards at three scales: (1) the regional scale, by evaluating and modeling extinction processes; (2) the community scale, by elucidating the interplay of species richness and species abundance over time; and (3) the species-scale, by assessing genetic responses to biotic and abiotic perturbations.

As an Environmental Fellow, Melissa will work with Jonathan Losos of the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology to investigate how past global change forces have altered species distributions in Anolis lizards. This will reveal population trajectories before, during, and after environmental perturbations are encountered, and provide a framework for evaluating future range shifts.

Brian Lander
Department: Department of Anthropology
Faculty Advisor: Rowan Flad
Ph.D: East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University

"From Wetland to Farmland: the Ecological Transformation of the Central Yangzi Lowlands"

Brian Lander employs textual, archaeological and paleoecological sources to study the human impact on the environment in ancient China.

Brian received a B.A. in history from the University of Victoria, an M.A. in East Asian studies from McGill University and a Ph.D. in Chinese history from Columbia University. Along the way he spent five years at various universities in China and did archaeological fieldwork in Shandong. His dissertation began by reconstructing the natural ecology of North China’s lowlands, which were converted to farmland so long ago that people often forget that they were ever home to wild plants and animals. It then employed a case study of Qin, China’s first empire, to analyze the environmental transformation required for the formation of centralized bureaucratic states. 

As an Environmental Fellow, Brian will work with Rowan Flad of the Department of Anthropology to study the environmental history of central China’s wetlands. The Yangzi valley once had some of the largest wetlands in the world, but these were gradually transformed into rice paddies and fish farms and the region is now home to hundreds of millions of people. This research seeks to explore this process from the origins of agriculture to around 600 CE. He will also study the historical ecology of arid Gansu province as part of Rowan Flad’s ongoing research project into the archaeology of Northwest China. 

Daniel Madigan
Department/School: Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology; School of Public Health
Faculty Advisors: James J. McCarthy and Elsie Sunderland
Ph.D: Biology, Stanford University

"Generating a 'unified global model' of contaminant impacts on marine fisheries"

Dan Madigan is a marine ecologist interested in the interaction between pelagic ecology, contaminant transfer in food webs, fisheries, and anthropogenic environmental change.

Dan earned a B.A. in biology from Dartmouth College in 2005 and a Ph.D. in biology from Stanford University in 2013. He has conducted fieldwork in Costa Rica, Jamaica, Bahamas, Mexico, Alaska, Taiwan, and Japan. His dissertation research was based on elucidating the ecology and migratory dynamics of wide-ranging pelagic species such as tunas and sharks in the Pacific Ocean. His research has utilized stable isotope analysis, amino acid compound-specific stable isotope analysis, and Fukushima-derived radionuclides to assess trophic linkages in the California Current and the migratory dynamics of overfished Pacific bluefin tuna; his work using radionuclides in Pacific bluefin was awarded ASLO’s Lindeman award in 2014. From 2013-2015, Dan worked as an NSF Post-Doctoral Fellow, expanding his work to include mercury in collaboration with Stony Brook University, NOAA, and University of Hawaii.

As a HUCE Environmental Fellow, Madigan will work with Elsie Sunderland of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and James McCarthy of the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. His work at HUCE will focus on understanding the impacts of changing contaminant levels in the environment on the overall health of global fisheries. Dan will be part of an inter-disciplinary team that also includes researchers at MIT and UBC to combine contaminant emissions, atmospheric and ocean transport, ocean ecology, and fisheries dynamics into a single “unified global model” that assesses the present and future effects of contaminants on global fisheries.

Laura J. Martin
Department: Department of the History of Science
Faculty Advisor: Peter L. Galison
Ph.D: Natural Resources, Cornell University

"The History and Politics of Ecological Management"

Laura Jane Martin is a historian and ecologist who studies the cultural and political dimensions of ecological management.

Laura earned an Sc.B. in biophysics from Brown University in 2006, an M.S. in natural resources from Cornell University in 2010, and a Ph.D. in natural resources from Cornell in 2015. While at Cornell, she received national fellowships in both the sciences and the humanities. Through fieldwork, she studied the impact of human activities on the ecology and evolution of wetland species, publishing in Journal of Ecology, Conservation Biology, Trends in Ecology and the Environment, and elsewhere. Through archival research, she investigated the history of ecological restoration in the 20th century United States. Her current work is situated at the nexus of environmental history and science & technology studies.

As an Environmental Fellow, Laura will work with Peter Galison from the Department of the History of Science. She plans to develop her dissertation research into a book that explores how ecological restoration became such a widespread and important environmental practice. She will also begin a project on the use of counter-terrorism technologies for international biodiversity protection. By fostering conversations among scientists and humanists, Laura hopes to generate research that can guide 21st century environmental management.

Visit Laura’s website for more information.

Gillian Osborne
Department: Department of English
Faculty Advisor: James Engell
Ph.D: English and American Literature, University of California, Berkeley

"Even the Barest Books: Plant-Life, Literary Experience, and Environmental Memory"

Gillian Osborne is a literary scholar interested in nineteenth-century American and Romantic literature, the history of popular botany, and contemporary ecopoetics.

Gillian holds a B.A. in comparative literature from Columbia University (2006), and a Masters in English with an Emphasis in Creative Writing (2011) and Ph.D. in English and American Literature (2014) from the University of California, Berkeley. In her dissertation, she investigated how nineteenth-century American authors from Sampson Reed in the 1820s to Herman Melville in the 1890s turned to plant life to theorize literary form and aesthetic agency as permeable and bare. While at Berkeley, Gillian was a co-organizer (along with Angela Hume and Margaret Ronda) of a conference on Ecopoetics, which brought together scholars, poets, and activists. In addition to her scholarly work on nineteenth-century American authors, Gillian has also published literary reviews and poetry in such places as The Boston Review, the Threepenny Review, and Volt.

As an Environmental Fellow, under the mentorship of James Engell in the Department of English, Gillian will research how exposure to Romantic science, popular botany, and an inherited uncertainty about what American literature might be, led Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, and Herman Melville to develop literary practices that valued processes of attention and openness to natural forms and experience over the creation of enduring literary works.

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

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

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