Meet the 2024 NIH Climate and Health Scholars

Laura Geer, Ph.D., M.H.S.

Laura Geer, Ph.D., M.H.S. Laura Geer, Ph.D., M.H.S.

Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, SUNY Downstate School of Public Health

Host: All of Us Research Program

Laura A. Geer, Ph.D., M.H.S., is associate professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the State University of New York, Downstate Health Sciences University (DHSU) School of Public Health. She is director of the Advanced Certificate Program in Climate Change and Planetary Health at the School of Public Health.  Geer’s research examines the role of environmental factors including chemical and physical agents, the built environment, and social determinants of health on vulnerability and resilience in urban underserved communities in response to climate impacts.  Her ongoing research focuses on the characterization of environmental exposures and associated birth outcomes in an ethnically diverse urban immigrant maternal population. She is interested in exploring the cumulative health impacts of air pollution and heat exposures in vulnerable populations. Geer recently completed a pilot study examining youth and community capacity to respond to urban heat-related impacts and other extreme weather events.  She co-chaired a symposium in 2022 on ‘Climate Inclusive Clinical Research: Interprofessional Engagement and Training Around Climate and Health Equity’ at DHSU. She received her Master of Health Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Arnab Ghosh, M.D., M.Sc., M.A.

Arnab Ghosh, M.D., M.Sc., M.A. Arnab Ghosh, M.D., M.Sc., M.A.

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University

Host: National Institute on Aging

Arnab K. Ghosh, M.D., M.Sc., M.A., is an assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, where his research program focuses on climate change and health, and the development of nature-based and other interventions to protect vulnerable populations against climate-amplified threats. He is also a practicing internist, having served in multiple post-disaster settings. He is a fellow of the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability, of the Cornell Center of Health Equity, and a Visiting Fellow in the Office of Emergency Management at NYC Health + Hospitals. His work is funded by the NIH (including a career development award), NSF, Environmental Defense Fund, and several other funding bodies. Ghosh previously served on a NAM-Burroughs Wellcome Trust panel on climate and health. He is the current co-chair of the national subcommittee of health policy and research at the Society of General Internal Medicine, the leading society for academic internists in the United States. Prior to his career in academia, he worked as a McKinsey consultant, an HIV/AIDS policy analyst at the United Nations Secretariat, and practiced medicine in remote, resource-limited settings as an emergency physician. He received his medical degree and graduate degree in development studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and graduate degrees in health policy and clinical/translational sciences at Cornell University. He undertook his training in emergency medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and internal medicine at Bellevue Hospital/NYU School of Medicine. Ghosh continues to practice medicine and currently serves as a medical officer as part of the Disaster Medical Assistant Teams within the U.S. National Disaster Medical System.

Stefania Papatheodorou, Ph.D., M.D.

Stefania Papatheodorou, Ph.D., M.D. Stefania Papatheodorou, Ph.D., M.D.

Lecturer in Epidemiology, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health

Host: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Stefania Papatheodorou, Ph.D., M.D., M.Sc., is a lecturer in epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and a trained obstetrician and gynecologist. Her research lies on the intersection of climate change, air pollution, pregnancy, and children’s health. She has been the primary investigator on multiple epidemiological studies examining the association between prenatal exposure to climatic factors, air pollutants, and in utero fetal growth, and has documented the vulnerability of the fetal brain to exposure to high temperatures and air pollutants during pregnancy. She has also examined associations between climate factors, air pollution, and adverse pregnancy outcomes like stillbirth, preterm birth, gestational diabetes, and pre-eclampsia. Her research utilizes a wide range of administrative data sources, such as electronic health records, birth registries, and claims data. From these sources, she has constructed large-scale pregnancy cohorts linked with high-resolution environmental exposures and uses these big data to provide causal estimates. She is the principal investigator of an NIEHS-funded R01 that examines the effects of prenatal and early childhood exposure to climate factors and air pollutants on children’s neurodevelopmental outcomes. Papatheodorou received her medical and doctoral degrees from the University of Ioannina in Greece and her Master of Sciences degree in epidemiology from the Cyprus International Institute for the Environment and Public Health in association with Harvard School of Public Health.

Julie Postma, Ph.D., R.N.

Julie Postma, Ph.D., R.N. Julie Postma, Ph.D., R.N.

Professor, Department of Nursing and Systems Science and Associate Dean for Research, Washington State University College of Nursing

Host: National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities

Julie Postma, Ph.D., R.N., is a professor in the Department of Nursing and Systems Science and the associate dean for research at Washington State University College of Nursing. Postma worked clinically as a cardiothoracic nurse before studying occupational and environmental health and earning her doctorate in nursing science at the University of Washington. She has over 15 years of experience working alongside community partners to promote environmental health and justice in Hispanic communities, primarily in terms of the impact of housing on asthma. With the arrival of significant, hazardous, and disruptive wildfire smoke in 2015, her program of research shifted to studying risk-reduction strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change on two at-risk populations: outdoor workers in agricultural communities and young adults with asthma. Her scholarship reflects the importance of community engagement and cultural humility in assessing environmental health risks, designing and testing risk reduction interventions, and implementing locally relevant strategies to reduce risks.

Samendra Sherchan, Ph.D.

Samendra Sherchan, Ph.D Samendra Sherchan, Ph.D

Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Climate Change and Health, Morgan State University

Host: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Samendra Sherchan, Ph.D., M.S., is an associate professor and the director of the Center for Climate Change and Health at Morgan State University. He is also an adjunct research professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University. He also currently serves as a director for the Center of Research Excellence in Wastewater-Based Epidemiology and the NSF-funded NRT ACCESS program. His research interests include climate change and health impacts, infectious disease epidemiology, environmental health microbiology, water quality, water treatment, water reuse, emerging pathogens, sanitation, and hygiene in developing countries. In addition, over the past 15 years, Sherchan has gained considerable experience working with communities affected by climate change and natural disasters in the U.S. and low-income countries such as Haiti and Nepal. He currently serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Water and Health and BMC Infectious Diseases. He is also on the editorial boards of the scientific journals American Chemical Society (ACS) Engineering Science & Technology (ES&T) Water, Case Studies in Chemical and Environmental Engineering, and Science of the Total Environment. He served on the faculty in the Department of Public Health at California State University, Fresno and later moved to the School of Public Health at Tulane University, where he served as the M.S.P.H. program director. His studies have been funded by several agencies including NIH, NSF, EPA, NOAA, and the Gates Foundation. Sherchan holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology, and a doctoral degree in environmental health from the University of Arizona.

Ricardo Wray, Ph.D., M.S.

Ricardo Wray, Ph.D., M.S. Ricardo Wray, Ph.D., M.S.

Professor of Health Communication, Department of Behavioral Science and Health Equity, Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice

Host: National Cancer Institute

Ricardo Wray, Ph.D., M.S., is a professor of health communication at the Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice. For more than 30 years, Wray has engaged in applied public health communication teaching, research, and practice through designing, implementing, and assessing communication programs in the United States, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Funded by NIH-NCI, CDC, and others, he has conducted interdisciplinary and mixed-methods research to advance community-engaged and social-justice-focused scholarship to address social determinants and health equity and promote reproductive health; emergency preparedness; and prevention of violence, cancer, and chronic and infectious diseases. His research has applied socio-behavioral, communication, and implementation-science theories to assess efficacy and package, promote, and enhance adoption of evidence-based practices, programs, and policies. Wray’s current research applies insights from health communication to explore the intersection of environmental communication, digital media, and social justice in the Midwest. In partnership with local public health agencies and not-for-profit environmental organizations, his research assesses effects of community-based and mediated outreach on climate-related perceptions, social engagement, community resilience, policy advocacy, and ecologically sound actions.

Caradee Wright, Ph.D.

Caradee Wright, Ph.D. Caradee Wright, Ph.D.

Chief Specialist Scientist, Environment and Health Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council

Host: Fogarty International Center

Caradee Wright, Ph.D., M.S.S., is a chief specialist scientist leading the Climate Change and Health Research Programme in the Environment and Health Research Unit at the South African Medical Research Council. Wright is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Geography, Geoinformatics, and Meteorology at the University of Pretoria and in the Department of Environmental Health at the University of Johannesburg. Her research focuses on environmental health epidemiology, with an emphasis on climate change and air pollution risk factors, to inform prevention, interventions, and policy in Africa. Co-creating with key role-players via her collaborations and advisory roles with national governments and international organizations, she develops, implements, and assesses interventions to alleviate climate-health threats in Africa through applied research. Among many international roles, Wright is an advisor to the International Livestock Research Institute’s One Health Centre for Africa  and the U.S.-based Health Effects Institute’s Global Health Oversight Committee. She is also a technical advisor to the World Health Organization’s Global Air Pollution – Technical Advisory Group in the capacity of lead expert for the Policy/Interventions Working Group and a council member of the American Society for Photobiology. She holds a doctoral degree in preventive and social medicine from the University of Otago in New Zealand and a master’s degree in social science from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

This page last reviewed on October 23, 2023