Director of IRI
Senior Research Scientist
Lisa Goddard is the director of the IRI and an adjunct associate professor within the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences of Columbia University. She has been involved in El Nino and climate forecasting research and operations since the mid 1990s. She has extensive experience in forecasting methodology and has published papers on El Nino, seasonal climate forecasting and verification, and probabilistic climate change projections. Currently leading the IRI’s effort on near-term climate change, Goddard oversees research and product development aimed at providing climate information at the 10-20 year horizon and how that low frequency variability and change interacts with the probabilistic risks and benefits of seasonal-to-interannual variability. Most of Goddard’s research focuses on diagnosing and extracting meaningful information from climate models and available observations. She also developed and oversees a new national post-doctoral program, the Post-docs Applying Climate Expertise Program (PACE), which explicitly links recent climate PhDs with decision making institutions. In addition, she sits on five scientific advisory panels and co-chairs two working groups.
Goddard holds a PhD in atmospheric and oceanic sciences from Princeton University and a BA in physics from the University of California at Berkeley.
Goddard pursues several lines of research aimed at improving the quality and content of climate predictions. This goal is approached with a focus on climate diagnostics and predictability. Research areas include
- Near-term climate change,
- El Nino/La Nina and their impact on climate variability and predictability,
- Methodologies for identifying the relative importance of regional SSTs to regional climate variability,
- Assessment of climate prediction tools, and
- Strategies for advancing research, development and implementation of climate forecasts.
Goddard also contributes to the real time production of IRI’s ENSO outlook and seasonal climate forecasts.
Erica Allis has ten years of professional experience in the sustainable development field. Prior to joining the IRI, Allis worked at the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in Paris, France, where she coordinated program activities in Asia, Africa, and Europe designed to mainstream best practices and resource-efficient technologies into the fisheries, agricultural, energy, tourism, and manufacturing sectors. Before joining UNEP, she worked at SNV Netherlands Development Organization in Nepal, where she developed and led capacity building sessions for private sector companies to enhance environmental management. She also worked six years at URS Corporation, a private sector engineering firm, where she fostered environmental compliance within various industry sectors and specialized in groundwater investigation and remediation. She has a BS in geology from the University of Arkansas, and a master of public affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, specializing in the development of tools to facilitate policy discussions with real-time groundwater model simulations.
Allis’s research interests include:
- Sustainable management of water resources and conflict resolution methods in water scarce regions
- Mechanisms and tools to enhance poverty alleviation through environmental management
- Enhancing the incorporation of scientific research in the decision making and policy development processes
- Stakeholder engagement
Role at the IRI
Erica serves as the coordinator of the Asia and Pacific Regional Program at the IRI, contributing to the operational and strategic objectives of the Program, its committee members and more broadly the Institute. She facilitates relationships among key stakeholders in international agencies, national and local governments, civil society organizations, and research institutions to achieve Program objectives.
Senior Research Scientist
Head of Regional and Sectoral Research
Walter E. Baethgen is head of the Regional and Sectorial Research Program and leader of the Latin America and the Caribbean program in the IRI at the Earth Institute, Columbia University. At the IRI he has been establishing regional research programs that aim to improve climate risk assessment and risk management in agriculture, health, water resources, and natural ecosystems. Between August 2010 and April 2012, Baethgen acted as Distinguished Lead Scholar of the NEXUS program of the Fulbright Foundation, which aims to inform the elaboration of policy with scientific research. Before joining the IRI, Baethgen was a senior scientist in the Research and Development Division of IFDC, where he worked mainly in Information and Decision Support Systems for the Agricultural Sector (1987-2003). In that role he established and coordinated regional research programs in Latin America in collaboration with national and international organizations.
Baethgen has acted as a consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank, UNDP, UNIDO, FAO, the IAEA, The World Bank and IICA. He also acted as consultant for the governments of Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Guatemala and Uruguay, and for the private sector in Argentina, Uruguay, and Venezuela. He was a lead author for IPCC’s Second (1995) and Third (2001) Assessments Reports and contributing author for the Fourth Assessment (2007), as well as the review editor for the IPCC special issue, Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer (2000). He serves or has served as a member of scientific advisory committees of several international organizations including the CGIAR Science Council, IAI, CIIFEN, VAMOS-WCRP, IGBP, and WMO. Baethgen is an editorial board member of the peer-reviewed journals Agricultural Systems (Elsevier Science) and Journal of the International Hydrological Programme (UNESCO), and a regular reviewer for scientific journals of USA, Europe, and Latin America.
In 2010 Baethgen received the Morosoli de Oro award, considered one of the highest recognitions of contribution to Uruguayan culture. He obtained his PhD and MS degrees in crop and soil environmental sciences from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and his BS in agricultural engineering from he University of Uruguay. He has more than 150 publications to his credit.
Andrew W. Robertson
Senior Research Scientist
Head of Climate Group
After graduating from the University of Leeds, UK, with a BS in mathematics and geography, Andrew Robertson received an MS from Imperial College, London in atmospheric physics and dynamics, and a PhD in atmospheric dynamics from the University of Reading in 1984, under the supervision of Brian Hoskins. He held postdoctoral and research positions at the Universities of Paris, Munich, and UCLA prior to joining the IRI in 2001.
Robertson has authored over 90 peer-reviewed publications, a full list of which can be found here: http://iri.columbia.edu/~awr/pubs.html. His research interests include:
- regional climate variability, predictability and change
- probabilistic daily rainfall modeling
- predictability of weather-within-climate
- climate downscaling methodologies
- tailoring of climate information for use in conjunction with sectoral models for climate adaptation and risk management
Role at the IRI
Robertson currently leads the IRI Climate Group. He also teaches in the Master of Arts Program in Climate and Society in the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences.