Education News

Africa Brown Bag Series

2007-10-03

posted: October 3, 2007

As part of the student program offerings, the Earth Institute at Columbia University will host a series of brown bags this semester focused on EI’s work in Africa starting this week.  Speakers include Madeleine Thompson, Senior Research Scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI); Elliot Sclar Director of the Center for Sustainable Urban Development; and Malanding Jaiteh, Staff Associate at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN).

On Wednesday, October 3rd, Dr. Jaiteh discussed CIESIN’s World Data Center (WDC) and Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) data collections relevant to research in Africa and provide a short demonstration of the WDC spatial data mining, visualization and download tools. 

Dr. Jaiteh has a Ph.D in Forest Science with research interest in the applications of GIS and Remote Sensing technologies in mapping and modeling human induced land cover dynamics in Southern Africa. Currently he is a GIS Specialist at the Earth Institute’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). His work is primarily GIS data development and integration in support of CIESIN’s Data Center mission. Dr. Jaiteh helped develop several CIESIN datasets including the Human Footprint and Last of the Wild, Protected Wilderness Indicator,  Gridded Global Species database, Natural Resource Management Indicator and spatial database on water and conflict in Africa. He has supervised several student interns and work study participants work with real-life GIS projects.

Dr. Thomson’s talk will cover Climate Information for Public Health Decision Making in Africa.  She trained originally as a field entomologist. She spent three years in Sierra Leone undertaking operational research on onchocerciasis for the United Kingdom Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Onchocerciasis Control Programme and used this work to write her PhD.

Her focus remains the development of new tools for health services in poor countries in which climate and environment are a major determinant of disease transmission dynamics and population vulnerability. She is particularly interested in the development of predictive models of epidemic risk based on climate/environmental variables and the use of such models in early warning systems. In recent years she has extended her collaborative activities outside of the health community and become involved in programmes involving climate groups such as the UK Met Office, the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting and the African Centre for Meteorology and Development. She has helped facilitate the development of active partnerships between the health and climate community and sees this as an essential step in the development of the use of climate/environmental information by the health sector. Future research efforts will concentrate on integrating knowledge on climate variability, climate and environmental/land cover/use change alongside socio-economic drivers to explain and predict spatial and temporal changes in health outcomes.

Professor Elliot Sclar is professor of urban planning and international affairs. An economist and urban planner, he is the director of the Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CSUD) at Columbia University's Earth Institute, one of six global centers of excellence supported by the Volvo Foundations of Gothenburg, Sweden. Sclar was a co-coordinator of the Taskforce on Improving the Lives of Slum Dwellers, one of ten task forces set up by the UN Millennium Project to aid in the implementation of the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals.  Professor Sclar's research interests include urban economic development, transportation, and public service economics.  Professor Sclar is also active outside of the classroom. He is a member of the board of directors of Trillium Asset Management, the largest socially responsible investment advisory firm in the United States, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Wainwright Bank and Trust Company, a leading community bank in Boston. Sclar is a member of the American Planning Association and the Society of American City and Regional Planning History.

Dr. Sclar’s talk will focus on CSUD’s work in Nairobi, particularly the pilot urban planning project in Ruiru, Kenya.  The goal of the project is to influence a transport policy at the metropolitan scale of Nairobi region. Ruiru is a satellite city of Nairobi and CSUD believes the important work in Ruiru will ultimately lead to the creation of an urbanization template with a social element for other African cities, thus establishing a context for studying the larger urbanization process in the Global South.

David Ho received his PhD from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Science in 2001 in Earth and Environmental Science.  He is now a Doherty Research Scientist at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory and is working on issues relating to air-water gas exchange, ocean tracers, and coastal oceanography, among others.

He will discuss the Bamboo Bike Project, a collaboration between The Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Craig Calfee of Calfee Design.  The project aims to examine the feasibility of implementing cargo bikes made of bamboo as a sustainable form of transportation in Africa.  The ultimate goals of the project are to build a better bike for poor Africans in rural areas and to stimulate a bicycle building industry in Africa to satisfy local needs.

Events

An Overview of CIESIN’s Geospatial data and applications for research in Africa

Speaker: Dr. Malanding Jaiteh, Staff Associate, Center for International
Earth Science Information Network
Date: Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Time: 1pm-2pm
Location: CU Morningside Campus, Alfred Lerner Hall, Room 569
More Info: For more information email el2365@columbia.edu

Climate Information for Public Health Decision Making in Africa

Speaker: Dr. Madeleine Thomson, Senior Research Scientist,
International Research Institute for Climate and Society
Date: Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Time: 1pm-2pm
Location: CU Morningside Campus, International Affairs Building, Middle
East Institute, Room 1118
More Info: For more information email el2365@columbia.edu

Assisting policy change: The role of technical advisers in formulating a metropolitan planning process in Nairobi, Kenya

Speaker:  Dr. Elliot Sclar, Director of the Center for Sustainable Urban
Development and Professor of Urban Planning and
Public Affairs at Columbia University
Date: Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Time: 1pm-2pm
Location: CU Morningside Campus, International Affairs Building, Middle
East Institute, Room 1118
More Info: For more information email el2365@columbia.edu

Bamboo Bicycles as Sustainable Transportation in Africa

Speaker: Dr. David Ho, Doherty Research Scientist
Date: Friday, October 19, 2007
Time: 1pm-2pm
Location: CU Morningside Campus, International Affairs Building, Rm 405
More Info: For more information email el2365@columbia.edu