Climate Change

Climate change is one of humanity’s greatest challenges and will have dramatic impacts on human health, the environment and society at large.

From heat waves and droughts to changes in food supply, infectious disease dynamics and air quality, the impacts of climate change will affect people throughout the world and for decades to come. At the same time, reducing our carbon emissions can bring great public health opportunities if we use climate policy to facilitate better air quality, improved diets, and safer transportation.  

Emory University has launched a campus-wide initiative, Climate@Emory, that links students and faculty from six schools and over 20 departments to advance research, teaching, and community outreach in support of understanding and addressing the climate change challenge. 
Faculty and students at the Rollins School of Public Health are building connections—both with global partners and within the broader Atlanta community—to develop a deeper understanding of the public health consequences of global climate change. As it’s not possible to understand climate change from the standpoint of any one discipline, students with transdisciplinary training from the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health can play a key role in translating climate change research into policy and practice, and in improving our quantitative understanding of the public health impacts of global climate change. 

Emory University is an accredited, official observer to the UN climate talks—the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This accreditation allows Emory faculty, staff, and students to participate in annual negotiating sessions such as those that produced the international agreements in Kyoto in 1997 and Copenhagen in 2009.  Several thousand non-governmental observers attend these sessions each year, and Emory students and faculty have an opportunity to present research, network, teach, and learn at the annual conference. 

Emory faculty are leading high-impact research on climate science, climate impacts, strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and approaches for increasing resilience to climate change. The Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health is a national leader in training future leaders to combat climate change and its impacts. 

Examples of current faculty research on global climate change and health:

  • Estimating the impact of global climate change on China's progress reducing diarrheal and vector-borne diseases
  • Multi-location epidemiological studies of heat-related morbidity and mortality, including assessment of sensitive and vulnerable groups
  • Projecting future health burdens and economic costs associated with increased wildfires in the western United States

  • Conducting an assessment of heat-related morbidity among sensitive populations in the Atlanta metropolitan region and estimating how future climate change may affect local demand for emergency medical care
  • Investigating how the air pollution-related health “co-benefits” of climate policy should affect when, where and how much to mitigate

Climate Change Faculty and Research Interests

Stefanie Ebelt, ScD, Associate Professor
Cardiovascular and respiratory effects of ambient air quality, climate change

Matthew Gribble, PhD, Assistant Professor
Oceans and human health, drinking water, environmental epidemiology, epigenetics and gene-environment interactions, indigenous health

Yang Liu, PhD, Assistant Professor
Satellite remote sensing, air pollution modeling, GIS, spatial statistics, climate change

Donghai Liang, PhD, Research Assistant Professor
Air Pollution, exposure assessment, exposome, epidemiology, climate and health

Ajay Pillarisetti, PhD, Assistant Professor
Air pollution, exposure assessment, global health, climate and health, implementation science, modeling

Daniel Rochberg, MS, Instructor
Climate change, sustainable development policy and practice, clean energy policy and strategies, environmental economics, public-private partnerships, international negotiations

Jeremy Sarnat, ScD, Associate Professor
Air pollution, toxicology, exposure assessment

Noah Scovronick, PhD, Assistant Professor
Climate and health, environmental health, air pollution

Liuhua Shi, ScD, Research Assistant Professor
Air pollution, climate and health, epidemiology, statistical modeling, exposure assessment

Howard Chang, PhD (Biostatistics and Bioinformatics)

Uriel Kitron, PhD (Environmental Sciences)

Eri Saikawa, PhD, Assistant Professor (Environmental Sciences)

Jesse Bell, PhD – NOAA/CDC

Lyndsey Darrow, PhD (School of Communicty Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Reno)

Jeremy Hess, MD, MPH – University of Washington

Ciannat Howett, JD – Emory University

Mark Keim, MD – NCEH, CDC

George Luber, PhD – NCEH, CDC

Justin Remais, PhD - University of California, Berkeley

Shubhayu Saha, PhD – NCEH, CDC

Ying Zhou, ScD – NCEH, CDC

EH 515

Air Quality in the Urban Environment: A Survey of Research and Methods and Recent Findings

Spring

EH 582

Global Climate Change: Health Impacts and Response

Fall

EH 586

Advanced Seminar in Climate Change and Health: 

Research and Policy

Spring

EH 587

Introduction to Remote Sensing of the Environment and its Applications to Public Health

Spring

EHS 750

Environmental Determinants of Infectious Disease

Spring

ENVS 120*

Living in the Anthropocene

Fall

ENVS 229*

Atmospheric Science (with Lab)

Fall

CHEM 190*

Renewable Energy: Why, When, and How

Spring

HLTH 350R*

Core Issues in Global Health - Under the Weather?

Fall

*Classes 500-level or above count toward the master’s degree, but other classes may be taken as electives above and beyond the degree requirements.

(See complete listing at climate.emory.edu)

Finestone, Erin - “Exploratory analysis of environmental and social drivers of wildfires: Oregon, USA.” Advisors: Yang Liu, Jesse Bell.

Gates, Abigail - "Short-Term Association Between Ambient Temperature and Homicide in South Africa." Advisor: Noah Scovronick

Heidari, Leila - “Susceptibility to heat-related fluid and electrolyte imbalance emergency department visits in Atlanta, GA." Advisor: Stefanie Sarnat

Stowell, Jennifer - "Distinguishing between the effects of climate change and emission mitigation on ozone concentration: Implications for human health." Advisor: Yang Liu

Squires, Kelly - "A hypothesis-generating analysis of the association between extreme climate events and untreated recreational water outbreaks in the United States, 1978-2010." Advisor: Matthew Strickland 

Tyndall, Lily - “The seasonality and climatic drivers of Cryptosporidiosis." Advisor: Karen Levy 

Electronic Theses and Dissertations 

Domalewski, Anna - "Georgia's Climate Questions: Human Health Risks."

Ono, Koji - "Assessing the potential impact of climate change on particulate matter infiltration in Atlanta."

Pendleton, Nicole - "Assessing the Impact of Gauge and Remotely Sensed Precipitation Datasets on the Correlation of Rainfall and Diarrheal Disease Incidence"

Tlumak, Jennifer - “Development of a Survey Instrument to Attain Expert Consensus in Reporting Climate Change Health Impact Projection Studies.”

CDC – Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch, Student Epidemiologist (Atlanta, GA): Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are abundances of freshwater or marine phytoplankton that produce biotoxins or otherwise adversely affect humans, animals, and ecosystems. Conduct a literature review on topics related to HABs (e.g., economic cost, Great Lakes, climate change, animal health, human health) and use the scientific literature to develop website pages for a CDC harmful algal bloom website. Contribute to national waterborne disease and outbreak surveillance by supporting efforts to develop a national electronic HAB illness and event reporting module and to conduct surveillance for waterborne disease outbreaks via the National Outbreak Reporting System.

Vermont Department of Health, University of New Hampshire Sustainability Institute Fellow (Burlington, VT): The Vermont Climate & Health Program (VCHP), funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), focuses on identifying climate-related health risks in Vermont, developing adaptation strategies to reduce climate-related health risks, and promoting climate change mitigation strategies that provide health co-benefits. VCHP has proposed to offer support to state, local, and non-governmental partners to evaluate and communicate about potential health benefits of climate change mitigation strategies. The objective is to attract additional support and funding for climate change mitigation actions while also improving health for Vermonters.

Delta Air Lines, Sustainability Intern (Atlanta, GA): Understand how the EU's cap-and-trade system will be applied to the airline industry, the legal barriers to doing so, the effect on the airline industry, and any potential impact on climate change. Determine Delta’s Carbon Footprint and complete Delta’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory. Learn about the current techniques that Delta and other airlines are doing to improve sustainability and assist with drafting Delta's sustainability report. 

Georgia Climate Project, Graduate Research Assistant (Atlanta, GA): Georgia Climate Project works with a network of experts across the state to address three priorities in understanding climate change: analyzing and accounting for existing science, fostering stronger conversations in a non-partisan way, and identifying practical steps and potential solutions that can be taken by Georgians to respond to climate change. 

CDC – Climate and Health Program, Health Scientist: Research the human health effects of climate change; assist state and local health departments.

International Atomic Energy Agency, Junior Professional Officer: Work on nutritional and health-related environmental study issues by supporting/funding research and capacity building of member states through the use and promotion of non-radioactive stable isotope techniques. Heading a new technical cooperation project investigating the effects of climate change on malnutrition in mothers and children under 5 and assisting in the agency's first international moderate malnutrition conference.