Born in Sarzana, Italy, in 1968, a year of joyful subversion throughout Western Europe, and the year of the Black Power protest at the Mexico City olympics, Alessandra Giannini is old enough to recall the car-free Sundays of the global oil crisis, and the cholera epidemic in Naples of the early 1970s. She feels part of a European generation by necessity attuned to environmental issues.

After completing a Physics degree from the University of Milan, in 1995 she moved to New York and Columbia University to pursue studies in tropical climate dynamics, with the double intent of learning more about the workings of the climate system, and, by focusing on tropical climate, of learning how to do science that would be of potential use to society.

Alessandra Giannini has researched the dynamics of the impact of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation on tropical Atlantic variability, working on two regions particularly vulnerable to climate variability and change; the Brazilian Nordeste, and the islands of the Caribbean. The focus of her research now is Sahel drought. A paper that she co-authored and was published in Science in 2003 , conclusively attributed the persistence of drought in this region of Africa in the 1970s and 1980s to a warming of the global tropical oceans, challenging the widely held belief that the local populations were to be held responsible for this environmental disaster, hypothesized to have been brought about by rapid population growth and the consequent mismanagement of natural resources. (Read more from SciDev.Net).

She continues to work on climate science, specifically on issues related to African climate change, and to be extremely interested in the policy implications of scientific findings, and in the role of science and scientists in our global society.

Alessandra Giannini 2006-12-02