The Scientific Committee of the Climatological, Meteorological and Environmental factors in the COVID-19 pandemic Symposium is comprised of 15 members representing 14 organizations.
Scientific Committee Members
Dr. Ben Zaitchik (United States of America), chairs our committee and represents John Hopkins University and GEO Health. Ben is an Associate Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins. He is an Earth scientist whose work includes study of fundamental atmospheric and hydrological processes as well as application of this knowledge to problems of water resources, agriculture, and human health. In this context, Dr. Zaitchik leads multiple projects that apply Earth Observation to study and predict infectious diseases, including work on malaria, cholera, enteric pathogens, and, most recently, COVID-19. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Zaitchik was a Research Associate at NASA and a Fellow at the U.S. Department of State. He holds a PhD in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University, an MS in Soil Sciences from Cornell University, and an AB in Biology from Harvard College. He is currently the President-Elect of the GeoHealth Section of the American Geophysical Union.
Dr Joy Shumake-Guillemot represents the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and leads the WHO/WMO Climate and Health Joint Office in Geneva Switzerland. She is an environmental health scientist and public health practitioner who has worked with WHO, WMO, UNICEF and others to develop public health policy and programming for climate adaptation and risk management. She has extensive field experience in Africa, Asia, and Latin America supporting public health and humanitarian assistance programs. Her current work focuses on enabling WMO and WHO to work together to accelerate the availability, access and use of climate and weather information that can improve public health policy and practice. She is the founder and co-coordinator of the Global Heat Health Information Network; and plays a leading coordination role for the Health, Environment, and Climate Change Coalition (HECCC) between UN Environment, WHO, and WMO. Joy has led several strategic efforts as the lead author of the WHO Operational Framework for Climate Resilient Health Systems, the health strategy for the Global Framework for Climate Services, the Climate Service for Health Guidebook, and has contributed to numerous research, policy, and technical publications. Joy received her Doctor of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences from Johns Hopkins University.
Dr Neville Sweijd (South Africa), represents the COVID-19 Environmental Reference Group (CERG) of the Department of Science and Innovation of South Africa, and is the Director of the Alliance for Collaboration on Climate and Earth Systems Science or ACCESS programme, based in South Africa. A marine scientist by training with a PhD from the University of Cape Town, he has worked in several African countries and in several multi-national programmes and projects, with an interest in the impact of changing climate variability in a range of sectors and applications. One of these in the field of public health with a focus on how trends in seasonal climate variability, and the intensification of extreme events impacts on the epidemiology on an inter-annual and decadal basis, and in terms of the changing geographical range of infectious diseases such as malaria, diarrheal diseases and respiratory diseases. Recently he convened the COVID-19 Environmental Reference Group (CERG) to investigate and advise on the potential effects of seasonality on the COVID-19 epidemic in South Africa.
Prof. Andy Morse (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), represents Future Earth and is Professor of Climate Impacts in the School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, U.K. His Ph.D. is in Atmospheric Physics from the University of Manchester, and he works on the impacts of climate variability and climate change on human and animal health. He is best known for his work at seasonal scales using ensemble predictions of seasonal climate variability on vector bone diseases. He has worked with a range of infectious diseases including malaria, Rift Valley fever, dengue and Zika. Much of his work has been focussed on sub-Saharan Africa. Andy also works on longer climate change impacts on infectious disease using outputs from a range of global climate models, using probabilistic approaches to bound the uncertainties in projections. He has over 100 publications and was co-awarded the 2006 World Meteorological Organisation’s Norbert Gerbier-MUMM International award for the work on integrating impacts models within seasonal ensemble forecasting systems.
Prof. Christopher Gordon (Ghana), represents the International Science Council, and is based at the University of Ghana’s Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies. He is a Zoology graduate of the University of Ghana with BSc (Hons.) in 1980 and MSc, 1986, and has a PhD from King’s College, University of London (1995), in Human Environmental Science. With over 100 publications, Prof Gordon has supervised more than 60 MSc and PhD students, and contributed to national and international policy in disciplines including Freshwater Biodiversity, Fisheries, Wetland Ecology, Environmental Science, Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Chemistry, Agricultural Extension and Communication Studies. Currently, Prof Gordon is Chair of the Technical Committee on Environment for the Ghana Standards Authority and member of the World Adaption Science Programme of UN Environment as well as serving as an Earth Commissioner for Future Earth. In 2016 he was made a Member of the Order of the Volta, by the Government of Ghana for services in research, education and development.
Dr Aileen M. Marty (United States of America), M.D., professor of infectious diseases in the Department of Medicine at the FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, pursued her medical education at the University Of Miami Miller School of Medicine and her residency and fellowship at the WRMC and the AFIP. Aileen is both an infectious disease physician and a pathologist with over 40 years of experience in clinical medicine, research, and diagnostic studies. She focuses her work on Tropical and Travel Medicine, outbreak response, and medical countermeasures to CBRNE. Her expertise centres in the use and development of vaccines, diagnostic tools, antimicrobials, and other treatments and on medical countermeasures. Aileen has helped study and develop microbiologic diagnostic tools and methods for identifying infectious agents and helped develop new attenuated strains for safe and effective new vaccines. She has served on Blue-Ribbon, White House, and National Security Council advisory committees, and for the World Health Organization. In the U.S. Navy, she specialized in tropical medicine, infectious disease pathology, disaster medicine, and in the medical response involving weapons of mass destruction. She previously held positions at the Uniformed Services University, The Johns Hopkins University, the National Defense University, and the University of Valencia, Spain. She is a senior advisor for the World Health Organization and has worked on multiple WHO outbreak response teams and heled author several WHO guidelines. Prof. Marty and the team are now working on a special issue on climate change and health. She is the co-editor-in-chief of “One Health” which is the official journal of the International Federation for Tropical Medicine (Elsevier) and is a member of Florida Clinicians for Climate Action.
Dr Juli Trtanj (United States of America), represents GEO Health and is the One Health and Integrated Climate and Weather Extremes Research Lead for NOAA and is responsible for developing and implementing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Health Strategy. She coordinates the NOAA One Health Working Group which brings together NOAA data, research, information and actions to inform health decision making. She started the first multidisciplinary and multi-partner research program on Climate Variability and Human Health. She developed and directed NOAA’s Oceans and Human Health Initiative focused on Early Warning Systems, Health Benefits from the Sea, and Graduate Training. Juli also co-chairs the US Global Change Research Program, Climate Change and Human Health Group (CCHHG) and represents NOAA on the Pandemic Prediction and Forecasting Science and Technology Working Group. She an author on the Fourth National Climate Assessment, served on the Steering Committee of the USGCRP Climate and Health Assessment. She is the Integrated Information System for Health Lead for the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), and is directly involved with the World Health Organization (WHO), and other partners in the development of the Integrated Information Systems for heat, cholera and other water-related illnesses. She has contributed to, reviewed, or edited sections of several IPCC and US National Climate Assessment reports and authored several book chapters and journal articles. She earned her Master in Environmental Science from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 1994, and her Bachelors in 1986 from the University of California Santa Barbara.
Prof. Jürg Luterbacher represents the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) where he serves as Director of Science and Innovation and Chief Scientist. Previously, Jürg has been the Chair of Climatology, Climate Dynamics and Climate Change, for two years Director of the Department of Geography, and member of the Centre for international Development and Environmental Research at the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany. He demonstrated leadership in a broad spectrum of climate science and contributed significantly to the holistic Climate-Earth System approach. He worked in paleoclimate science, modelling past and present climate across various time and space scales. He has contributed significantly to bridging the gap and understanding historical, current and future climate change, weather and climate extremes and impacts on ecosystems and societies. He was a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report (AR5) chapter 5 “Information from Paleoclimate Archives”. Professor Luterbacher studied physical Geography, botany, chemistry and geology at the University of Bern, Switzerland. He was awarded a PhD in Climate Science from the Faculty of Science, University of Bern.
Dr. Joel Botai (South Africa) is a chief scientist at the South African Weather Service (SAWS) overseeing the development of weather and climate solutions in support of a wide range of climate sensitive sectors including health, energy, agriculture, water. In support of post-graduate students, Dr Botai is affiliated at the University of Pretoria as an extra-ordinary lecturer, an honorary research fellow at the school of Agriculture earth and environmental sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal and Adjunct Professor at the Department of Information Technology, Central University of Technology, Free State, all in South Africa. Dr Botai holds a PhD in Meteorology awarded by University of Pretoria, an MSc Astrophysics awarded by Rhodes University, MSc Eng awarded by Chalmers University (Sweden) and BSc (Ed) awarded by Moi University (Kenya). Dr Botai is currently the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate and Land Management (SASSCAL).
Dr Swadhin Behera (Japan) represents the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) where he serves as the Director of the Application Laboratory/VAiG there, and an adjunct professor at the Department of Ocean Technology, Policy and Environment of the University of Tokyo. He is well-known for his research in tropical and extratropical climate and discoveries of several modes of climate variations. After obtaining his Ph. D. degree from India and working for about 10 years in Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, he moved to JAMSTEC in 1998. He has been associated with various centers and programs of JAMSTEC since then and has led a team to develop the SINTEX-F system, one of the leading climate prediction models in the world. The SINTEX-F seasonal predictions are used in application studies including applications in infectious diseases like malaria, diarrhea and cholera. Recently, he is investigating the seasonal climate link to COVID-19.
Prof. Yonglong Lu (China) is a Chair Professor of Xiamen University and Distinguished Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Fellow of TWAS (The World Academy of Sciences), Foreign Member of Academia Europaea, President of Pacific Science Association (PSA), past President of Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE), UNEP International Resource Panel member. He has published more than 350 papers in peer reviewed journals such as Science, Nature, Science Advances, and PNAS, and authored or co-authored 16 books. He is an Associate Editor of Science Advances, the founding Editor-in-Chief of Ecosystem Health and Sustainability etc. He has received various science awards and prizes from China and abroad.
Dr Jane Olwoch (Namibia) represents Future Earth Southern Africa (FEROSA) is the Executive Director of the Southern Africa Science Service Center for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL). Before joining SASSCAL, Jane Olwoch was the Managing Director of Earth Observation at the South African National Space Agency (SANSA and she was responsible for leading regional and international partnerships with other space agencies and Earth observation institutions in data access and sharing, application development and sensor portfolio management. Jane holds a PhD (Zoology- Climate change) from the University of Pretoria (SA) and an MBA from the Business School, Netherlands. Her research interest and practice are on Environmental Change/Climate Change and vector-borne diseases. She has lead several projects including: Climate Change and tick-host relationships in Africa, Environmental Change and Malaria in Limpopo Province South Africa, Quantifying Weather and Climate Impacts on Health in Africa, and several other projects on Malaria and Remote Sensing in South Africa. She has served as a Lead Author of Chapter 11, IPCC Human Health, of the working group 2 to IPCC, fifth Assessment Report (2010-2014).
Dr. Ken Takahashi (Peru), represents the National Meteorological and Hydrological Service of Peru (SENAMHI) and is a Peruvian climate scientist specialized in large-scale ocean-atmosphere dynamics, particularly associated with El Niño prediction. He obtained a Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences from the University of Washington, Seattle, and was a post-doctoral researcher focused on global climate change at Princeton University and the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. He is currently the Executive President of SENAMHI, Permanent Representative of Peru with the World Meteorological Organization and member of its Executive Council, as well as a member of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Joint Scientific Committee and an associate editor of Journal of Climate.
Dr. Jennifer Stowell (United States of America) is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health at Emory University. She is a climate change epidemiologist with research focusing on the human health effects of climate change—specifically, the applications of climate and air quality and wildfire activity on various health outcomes and mortality. Prior to her work at Emory University, Dr. Stowell served as an ORISE Research Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Division of Viral Diseases. She holds a PhD in Environmental Health Science and an MPH in Environmental Health from Emory University, and a BS in Physical Geography from Brigham Young University. She currently serves as a Co-Chair of the Meetings Committee of the GeoHealth Section of the American Geophysical Union.
Dr. Xavier Rodó (Spain) represents the Barcelona Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal) where he is an ICREA Research Professor and leads the CLIMA (Climate and Health) Program. His background is in numerical ecology, climate dynamics and the modeling of climate impacts. In particular, one of his main scientific interests lies in the area of climate and health, where he attempts to uncover how climate influences a wide range of diseases and ailments. He also works to better derive translational services for health stemming from climate information and accurate predictions. Furthermore, Dr. Rodó is experienced at modeling extremes in climate and their effects on human health, both on mortality and infectious diseases. He actively works towards improving models for climate-driven infectious diseases, from waterborne diseases (e.g. cholera, shigellosis, rotavirus and adenovirus), food borne diseases (e.g. Giardia, Entoameba, E. coli and Iodamaeba), vector-borne diseases (e.g. malaria, chikungunya and dengue) and zoonosis (e.g. cutaneous leishmaniasis and plague) and airborne diseases (flu and recently the COVID-19), both in endemic and epidemic conditions in Africa, South Asia and South America. He recently settled the AIRLAB, a new facility created to study the interactions between the chemical and the biological components of aerosols and their effects on human health, where they are testing now for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in aerosols.