Meet our Program faculty, staff, fellows, and students!
The Program in Climate and Health brings together exceptional members of the BU community with a diversity of expertise, talent, and resources.
Program Faculty and Research Scientists (click to expand)
Gregory A. Wellenius, ScD – Leveraging his training in epidemiology, environmental health, and human physiology, Dr. Wellenius leads research focused on assessing the human health impacts of the built environment in the context of a rapidly changing climate. His team has made a number of novel contributions to our understanding of the human health risks associated with air pollution, noise pollution, other features of our physical environment, and the health risks posed by a changing climate. Key goals of his team’s research is to provide actionable scientific evidence that can help communities become as resilient, sustainable, and healthy as possible, and emphasizing the benefits to human health of climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. Dr. Wellenius serves as Director of the Program in Climate and Health.
Amelia Wesselink, PhD – Dr. Wesselink is an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist whose research focuses on the role of air pollution, temperature, and chemical exposures in the etiology of early reproductive events. She is a co-investigator on Pregnancy Study Online (PRESTO), a large web-based preconception cohort study of couples from the U.S. and Canada who are trying to conceive. Through her work in this cohort, she has studied the association of environmental exposures with fertility and miscarriage risk. Dr. Wesselink is interested in further understanding personal exposures to air pollution and extreme heat and how these exposures can influence health outcomes among pregnant women and infants.
Jonathan I. Levy, Sc.D. – Professor Levy focuses on assessment of urban environmental exposures and health risks. This includes high-resolution modeling or monitoring to identify air pollution or temperature “hot spots” and address environmental justice concerns, as well as development and application of methods to quantify the magnitude and distribution of near-term health benefits associated with energy efficiency and renewable energy measures. He is also involved in research considering the joint effects of air pollution, temperature, and green space on a variety of health outcomes. Throughout his work, he emphasizes community-engaged research with an eye toward solutions.
Madeleine Scammell, D.Sc. – Professor Scammell’s research is largely driven by community questions and concerns related to the effects of heat on vulnerable populations. She leads an occupational cohort study of outdoor workers in El Salvador and Nicaragua, examining exposure to heat (assessed via sensors that measure core body temperature and ambient temperatures measured by Wet Bulb Globe Thermometer) and kidney function over time. The Research Group for the Study of Chronic Kidney Disease in Central America is also examining mixtures of exposures including heat (e.g., the combination of heavy metals and heat, pharmaceuticals that affect thermoregulation). Locally, Prof. Scammell co-leads the Chelsea & East Boston Heat Study, characterizing exposure to–and experience of–heat among residents who live in urban heat islands, using exposure assessment tools, qualitative methods and participatory action research.
Patrick L. Kinney, Sc.D. – Professor Kinney’s teaching and research address issues at the intersection of global environmental change and human health, with an emphasis on the public health impacts of climate change and air pollution. Before coming to BU in 2017, Dr. Kinney created and directed the climate and health program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Kinney was the first to show that climate change could worsen urban smog problems in the U.S., with attendant adverse health impacts. He also has studied historical and future health risks related to heat waves in cities around the world. Dr. Kinney’s current work has a more “solutions” focus, for example by quantifying the health and climate benefits that can be achieved through urban mitigation and adaptation strategies related to green space and transportation.
Patricia Fabian, ScD – Professor Fabian’s research combines housing, indoor air, respiratory infectious disease transmission, geographical information systems (GIS), and systems science thinking. Her team in the Center for Research on Environmental & Social Stressors in Housing Across the Life Course (CRESSH) built large geospatial databases that are being used to understand environmental health disparities related to urban heat islands, and inform cities and communities to design heat-related interventions. Her team has also built a systems science model linking housing, indoor air quality and energy use with individual and neighborhood characteristics (e.g. green space) to understand tradeoffs and interventions related to pediatric asthma.
Shengzhi Sun, Ph.D. – Dr. Sun is a research scientist focusing on estimating the impacts of extreme weather events and built environment risk factors, such as air pollution, light pollution, and greenness space, on human health across the life course, especially for susceptible subgroups of the fetus, children, and elderly. Working closely with Dr. Wellenius, Dr. Sun is leading research to evaluate the potential adverse health impacts of climate hazards, including extreme heat and tropical cyclones. He is particularly interested in understanding the impacts on vulnerable populations including the elderly, children, and pregnant women.
Post-doctoral Research Associates (click to expand)
Amruta Nori-Sarma, PhD, MPH – Dr. Nori-Sarma is a post-doctoral research associate with the Program on Climate and Health and the Biostatistics and Epidemiology Data Analytics Center (BEDAC). She is interested in research utilizing interdisciplinary methods to understand the additive and multiplicative risks of interactive climate-relevant hazards on health in vulnerable populations, focused primarily on studies in the US and India. Her recent work focuses on mental health as an understudied outcome associated with exposure to climate hazards.
Keith Spangler, PhD – Dr. Spangler is a post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Environmental Health and BEDAC. He applies methods from geosciences and epidemiology to assess the impacts of climate change on human health and wellbeing. He is particularly interested in understanding how health risks from climate change vary across space, and determining the extent to which these impacts disproportionately affect the most socially vulnerable populations. His recent work has encouraged the use of spatially resolved meteorological data to potentially improve exposure measures for weather-related health assessments, and he is currently working to further improve exposure measurements of heat through the development of novel datasets.
Jennifer Stowell, PhD, MPH – Dr. Stowell is a post-doctoral researcher in the Program on Climate and Health at the Boston University School of Public Health. She utilizes spatial and epidemiologic methods to examine the adverse effects of climate change on human health. Her dissertation research examined the intersection of climate, air quality and human health, with specific emphasis on the impact of climate-induced wildfire activity on health. Her continuing research is focused on expanding our understanding of extreme heat, prescribed fire and wildfire smoke exposure on pregnancy and birth outcomes.
Graduate Students (click to expand)
Anthony(Yuantong) Sun, MS – Anthony graduated from Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health with his master of science degree in environmental epidemiology in May, 2020. He is currently working as a research data analyst at Boston University. His research interests include the health effects of heat waves and mapping heat vulnerability. He is also interested in the benefits of regulations on air pollution. He is conducting research on quantifying the health impacts of extreme heat in the U.S. population and responsible for managing the research project of health benefits of PM2.5 regulations.
Devin O’Donnell – Devin is an MPH student in Community Assessment, Program Design, Implementation, and Evaluation at BUSPH. She graduated with a BS from the University of Michigan with degrees in neuroscience and environmental science. Devin worked in mental health treatment of adolescents before pursuing graduate school. She is interested in the social aspect of climate change on human health including conflict, migration, stress and trauma. At BU, Devin has been awarded a wellbeing seed grant for a climate solutions project and is a 2021 fellow for the Public Health Post.
Laura Buckley, MPH – Laura is a PhD student in Environmental Health at Boston University who is interested in assessing the health and equity implications of climate change and related mitigation efforts. She is particularly interested in how public health research can be used as a vehicle for change in achieving just energy transitions, as well as in better understanding how our shifting climate is impacting vulnerable populations globally. Previously she worked on climate change adaptation efforts at the San Francisco Department of Public Health and researched public health impacts across the life cycle of emerging renewable energy systems at the Center for Climate Change and Health.
Matthew Raifman, MPP – Matthew earned his Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and is currently a PhD student in Environmental Health at Boston University. His research interests include examining the impact of local policies on climate and health co-benefits, with a specific focus on the role of transportation and new mobility. His recent work has looked at how local climate action plans can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollutants, leading to regional health co-benefits. Prior to returning to school for his PhD, Matthew led urban partnerships for Ford Smart Mobility, where he launched two of the first autonomous vehicle pilots in the country. Matthew has also held senior roles advising public sector executives on performance management at the World Bank, the Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities project, and in the Office of the Governor in Maryland.
Quinn Adams – Quinn is a Master of Science student in our new Population Health Research: Climate and Health program. She graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she researched the impact of temperature and rainfall anomalies on diarrheal disease incidence in Uganda. Her research interests include understanding the influence of climate change and extreme weather events on human health outcomes. She is particularly interested in the impact on emerging infectious diseases and disease transmission. Previously, she held positions working on environmental health issues at the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) and the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) in Washington, DC.
Zoe Petropoulos – Zoe is a PhD candidate in the Department of Environmental Health studying the role of heat stress in the incidence of kidney injury/disease as part of the Research Group for the Study of Chronic Kidney Disease in Central America. Her research interests lie at the intersection of occupational epidemiology and exercise physiology, particularly in understanding how to protect workers from the impacts of extreme temperatures. Her previous research includes assessing ways to rapidly characterize building attributes (e.g. open windows, air conditioning units) in urban neighborhoods and analyzing historical risk of heat-related illness in Nicaragua. Zoe previously worked at the Science and Technology Policy Institute, conducting research on local-level policymaking for preparing for and responding to natural disasters.