HERCULES Representation in Emory Climate Change Research and Teaching Initiative

Read the full story in the Emory News Center here. Excerpts are below.

The Emory Climate Research Initiative, established by Provost Ravi Bellamkonda, draws together faculty with diverse expertise to advance climate-related research and curricula across the institution, focusing on areas where Emory can make unique contributions to humanity’s efforts to understand and mitigate the impacts of climate change. A key area of focus for the new initiative, and where HERCULES Members have a leading role, is research at the broad intersection of human health and climate.

The Emory Climate Research Initiative’s working group faculty members include (HERCULES Members are in bold):

Kyle Lambelet, Candler School of Theology 

Eri Saikawa, Emory College of Arts & Sciences 

Wesley Longhofer, Goizueta Business School 

Melissa Hage, Oxford College 

Yang Liu, Rollins School of Public Health 

Mindy Goldstein, School of Law 

Rebecca Philipsborn, School of Medicine 

Lisa Thompson, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing (pictured)

Yang Liu

Gangarosa Distinguished Professor and chair of the Gangarosa Department of Environment Health at RSPH

An expert on the potential impacts of global climate change on public health, Liu researches the effect of climate change on air quality and human health using remote sensing technologies and model simulations. He also studies the health implications of extreme heat, wildfires and ambient air pollution.

Liu’s research has been funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Health Effects Institute and the World Health Organization. One of his recent modeling simulations found that smoke-related asthma events could increase at a rate of 15.1 emergency department visits per 10,000 persons in the western United States by the 2050s. By showing the potential future health impacts of climate-induced wildfire activity, Liu hopes to offer tools for climate change mitigation and adaptation planning.

Eri Saikawa

Associate professor of environmental sciences at Emory College of Arts and Sciences with a joint appointment in the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health at RSPH

An interdisciplinary environmental researcher, Saikawa specializes in the source and magnitude of emissions linked to air pollution, ozone depletion and climate change, as well as the societal and policy-related implications of these emissions. Her research is funded by NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Saikawa’s latest work examines global soil nitrous oxide emissions and seeks to quantify the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on regional air quality and health in China, Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan, among other regions. Several years ago, her discovery of lead contamination in urban soils in Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood gave rise to widespread community advocacy and political action, focused on the dangers of lead exposure and the need to provide a safe environment for all children. 

Lisa Thompson

Associate professor in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and an affiliated faculty member in the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health at RSPH

Thompson develops interventions to promote and monitor gas stoves for the Household Air Pollution Intervention Network.

Her latest research includes a randomized trial of a gas stove and liquefied petroleum gas fuel in 3,200 households in India, Guatemala, Peru and Rwanda. The study aims to assess the health impacts of these fuels on children, including low birth weight, stunting, pneumonia and early childhood development. It is well known that increasing the use of cleaner fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas and abandoning solid fuels is key to reducing household air pollution and improving health in low-income countries. Thompson’s work acknowledges the challenges inherent in such a transition, which will require substantial behavior change; and she supports developing real-world solutions grounded in practice.

An expert in global and environmental health as well as implementation science and vulnerable populations, Thompson worked for 18 years as a nurse and family practitioner at La Clinica de la Raza, a community clinic serving Spanish-speaking low-income patients in Oakland, California.