Earth & Environmental Science Journalism

Masters Projects

Legacy Site

This page documents the work of students in Columbia University Earth and Environmental Science Journalism program, which was active from 1996 through 2011.

Each student in the E&ESJ program conducts a scientific research project as part of the requirements for the M.A. in Earth & Environmental Sciences. The student begins the project in the Spring of the first year, completes it during the summer, writes it up in the form of a scientific paper, and presents it orally to an advisory committee.

Each student then completes a journalistic masters project, as part of the requirements for the M.S. in Journalism. The student begins this project in the third semester and completes it March of the fourth semester. The M.S. journalims masters project can be in the form of a long-format magazine piece, or in new media or broadcast.

Masters Projects of Past E&ESJ Students

Year Entered Student Undergrad Background Science Masters Project Title Science Advisory Committee (a) Journalism Masters Project Title
1996 Krista [McKinsey] West Zoology, Univ. of Washington "Effects of pond acidity levels on distribution of turtle populations at Black Rock Forest, NY." Chris Raxworthy,
Jim Simpson
The Illegitimate Animal Trade in New York City
1997 Dina Capiello Biology, Georgetown Univ. "The Effects of El Niño-Southern Oscillation Events on Seabirds in the Central Pacific: 1963-1969; 1984-1998." O. Roger Anderson,
Steve Zebiak
Manhattan's Monkey Wrench Gang
Hannah Fairfield Geosciences & English, William & Hobart Smith Colleges "Sm/Nd and Nd Isotopic Evidence for an Insignificant Basaltic Contribution to Shales in the Mesozoic Hartford Basin, U.S.A." Paul Olsen,
Sidney Hemming
Clearing the Roads with the Trash Train
Christina Reed Oceanography, Univ. of Washington "Interpreting the Impact of the Little Ice Age in the Labrador Sea." Peter de Menocal,
Bill Ryan
Deep in the Heartwood: The Story of an Invasive Species
1998 Naomi Lubick Geology, Carleton College "Post-Glacial Knickpoint Retreat on Streams in the Finger Lake Region of New York." Jeffrey Weissel,
Nick Christie-Blick
Where the Girls Aren't: The Absence of Women Scientists in the Upper Ranks of Academia
Sara Pratt Environmental Sciences & Geology, Univ. of Penn. "Carbon Isotope Discrimination in the C4 Shrub Atriplex confertifolia Under Varying Environmental Conditions." Kevin Griffin,
Wally Broecker
Caught Unaware: The Lack of Fish Consumption Advisory Signs in New York City
1999 James Bronzan Philosophy, Harvard U. "Depth of Production and Proxy Thermometry of Alkenones in the Eastern Tropical North Pacific." Richards Fairbanks,
Julian Sachs
Carbon Dioxide Removaland Sequestration:  Revolutionary Technology to Fight Global Warming
Francesco Fiondella Environmental Science, Brown U. "Zinc in the Guadiamar River System since the 1998 Los Frailes Mine Tailings Spill in Southern Spain." Alexander van Geen,
Taro Takahashi
Safety Reaching Port: A Decade of Children's Environmental Health
Sarah Graham Chemistry, McGill U. "The Characteristic Metal Signature of Highway Runoff in Sediments." Steve Chillrud,
Sidney Hemming
Hands, Strings and Manifestos: American Puppetry Undergoes a Renaissance
Adam Rankin Biology, Amherst "A recent history of sewage induced effects in Jamaica Bay from sedimentary stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic evidence." Ray Sambrotto,
Steve Chillrud
Like a Shot to the Moon: Overcoming Addiction and Recidivism
2000 Akiko Matsuda Law, Doshisha Univ (Kyoto) "Nutrient consumption, light regime, and chlorophyll distribution in the George V coastal region, Antarctica." Ray Sambrotto,
O. Roger Anderson
For our Daughters:  The Fight against Breast Cancer on Long Island
2001 Kenneth Kostel Imaging & Photo Technology, Environmental Studies, Rochester Institute of Technology "A simple sediment color meter to target low-arsenic aquifers in Bangladesh." Lex van Geen,
Sidney Heming, George Flynn (Chemistry)
River Rising: Restoring the Bronx River
Victoria Kaufman Science, Temple University "Resistance to suggestions for mitigation of disasters." Art Lerner-Lam, David Krantz (Psychology) Kitchen Table Therapy (about 9/11 first responders’ psychological problems)
John Romano Geology, Stockton College "The response of Pinus rigida to fires in the Pinelands of New Jersey." Gordon Jacoby, Kevin Griffith Going Native: Replanting New York City
Laura Wright Geology, Colgate Universtiy "Assessing the utility of combined studies of Synthetic Aperture Radar and ASTER in the Dakhla Oasis of the Western Desert of Egypt." Jeff Weissel,
Art Lerner-Lam
Lead Poisoning; New York’s Classless Disease
Ke Xu Biochemistry, Zhongshan University (China), Hong Kong University of Science & Technology. "How elevated CO2 level in the atmosphere affects the mitochondria number in C3 and C4 plants." Kevin Griffith, O.Roger Anderson Arsenic and Old Wood: How Playgrounds May be Poisoning Children
2002 David Epstein Environmental Science & Astronomy, Columbia University
" How does growing season water stress affect carbon assimilation, as shown by fluorescence, in 3 different vegetation types along a ridge slope in the Imnavait Creek catchment, Alaska? ." Kevin Griffin,
Mark Steiglitz
The Bell Lap (about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy)
Kristen Fountain Philosophy, Princeton,
Philosophy (M.A) Oxford
" The concept of an equilibrium profile and the effect of dredging on sedimentation in two reaches of the Hudson River Estuary ." Bill Ryan,
Robin Bell,
Tim Kenna
The Accidental Ecologists:  Locals, Scientists, and the Marshes at the Heart of Jamaica Bay 
2003 Samir Patel Engineering BS, Duke University, Creative Writing  (MS) New York University "Artificial reefs, macroinvertebrate community structure and invasion potential in a disturbed backreef lagoon in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic." James-Danoff Berg (CERC),
Jim Hayes
The Elves on the Island: Teenage Vandals or Ecoterrorists
Mohana Kumar Geophysics, Cal. Tech. "A re-evaluation of tektites associated with the proposed Mahuika impact." Dallas Abbott,
Paul Olsen
The Sea Boils Over: Indian Science and Policy in the Wake of the Tsunami
Alisa Opar Biological Sciences & Spanish, Smith College "Response of 6500 households to arsenic mitigation in Araihazar, Bangladesh." Lex van Geen,
Jim Simpson, Alexander Pfaff (Economics)
Fouled Waters: industry and pollution on Newtown Creek
2004 Curtis Brainard History, UC Santa Barbara "Did ionizing cosmic radiation during the Laschamp Event cause the Australian megafaunal extinction at 46,400 B. P.?" Rick Fairbanks,
Bill Ryan
in progress
Jeffrey DelViscio Weslyan, Earth Science "Alpine Stalagmite from Papua New Guinea Records ENSO Influence and Onset of Northwest Monsoon during Late Pleistocene." Erika Hendy,
Wally Broecker
Rezoned: Development, consequences and the discontents in North Brooklyn
Andrea Gawrylewski Environental Science & English, University of Maryland "Tree Growth and Spring Water Chemistry at Mohonk Mountain, New York." Ed Cook,
Mark Cane
Simultaneous Evolution: Environmental Perspective and the Bronx Zoo Lion House
Jeneen Interlandi Biological Sciences & English, Rutgers University "To what extent does thermal acclimation of leaf level respiration occur in deciduous vs. evergreen species in the arctic tundra?" Kevin Griffin, Dorothy Peteet The Eric Poehlman Story: Crime & Punishment in Scientific Research
Joseph Spring Biological Sciences, Quincy University "Fibropapillomatosis in Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas): A Map of Global Distribution and a Study of Possible Regression in the Hawaiian Subpopulation." Alonso Aguirre (Wildlife Trust), Martin Stute Shark Central: The Decline of Atlantic Shark Populations
Amy Schoenfeld Biological Sciences, Trinity "Household Response to Arsenic Testing and Labeling of Tubewells in Araihazar, Bangladesh." Lex van Geen,
Jim Simpson,
2005 Jacoba Charles Botany, Wildlife Sciences, University of Washington "The effects of Elmyus virginicus seeding versus weed-control fabric on the recovery of native vegetation in an urban restoration project" Matthew Palmer, Dorothy Peteet
From Family to Flames, and Home Again: How Household Garbage Becomes Electricity
Rebecca Gentry English, Northwestern University, Marine Science (MS), University of Otago, New Zealand "Beach replenishment in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Effects on Seagrass, Benthic Invertebrates, Sediment, and Water Quality" James Danoff-Burg (E3B),
Paul Olsen
The Empty Shelf: Discovering What Happened to Nova Scotia's Cod
Justin Nobel Earth & Ocean Science, Duke University "How is avian diversity distributed across the heterogeneous landscape of a farming-village in western Kenya? " Cheryl Palm,
Peter Eisenberger
Expeditionary learning: A middle school in Brooklyn tries to leave school behind
2006 Janet Fang Biological Science & English, University of California Berkeley "On G. Ruber, Climate Change & Human Evolution" Peter deMenocal, Alessandra Giannini (IRI), Jill Shapiro (E3B) Salamander Eggs and Hyena Phalluses: A Story about Motherhood, Novel Life Histories and Biological Oddities
Jessica Leber Environmental Chemistry, Columbia University "The Extent and Variability of Microbial Contamination of Shallow Tube Wells in Two Villages in Bangladesh" Bärbel Hoenisch, Brian Mailloux (Barnard), Alexander van Geen From germs to genes: The world of modern microbe hunters
Emily Mulholland English & Environmental Science, Drew University " The Effects of Photorespiration on Mitochondrial Respiration in the Light: Kok Effect Measurements in C3 and C4 Salt Marsh Grass Species" Kevin Griffin, O. Roger Anderson Of Muskrats and Men: The New Jersey Meadowlands
2007 Katherine Bagley Biology & English, St. LawrenceUniversity "An Assessment of Fuel Wood as a Sustainable Source of Energy for Rural Communities in the Miombo Savannah Woodland Ecosystem of Sub-Saharan Africa: A Case Study in Mbola, Tanzania Millennium Village" Cheryl Plam, Peter Griffin, Roger N. Anderson Following New York City’s Trash Trail: An Analysis of the Dept. of Sanitation’s 2006 Solid Waste Management Plan
Rebecca Fried Environmental Policy, Barnard College "CO2 production and O2 depletion in the unsaturated soil zone and their effect on noble gases and SF6 as tracers in Bangladesh and the U.S. High Plains" Martin Stute, Brian Mailloux Back from the Brink: Restoring Oysters in the Hudson River
Adi Narayan Electrical Engineering, Nanyang Technological University "Investigating the widespread association between the invasive ant Wasmannia auropunctata and mealybugs feeding on emerging Theobroma cacao shoots and its impact on organic agriculture" James Danoff-Burg (E3B), Kevin Griffin Radio Project: Music Therapy - History & Application
2008 Diya Chacko Journalism/ Natural Sci., University of Southern California
"Corals as recorders of ocean acidity: Seasonal and interdecadal-decadal variation from the Industrial Revolution to the present" Bärbel Hönisch,  Braddock Lindsley (SUNY Albany) Learning to Design by Designing to Learn: The Latest Trend in Educational Games
Veronica Phillips Earth Sciences, Univsity of Caifornia, Santa Cruz ’ "Using a high-resolution bog sediment core at Tamarack Pond, NY, to constrain an extraterrestrial impact in the Hudson Region ~2300 yr. B. P." Dallas Abbott, Terry Plank Your Brain on Climate Change
2009 Alejandra Borunda Biology, Pomona College "4He/Ca in potential dust sources from South America and Australia: A new porvenance proxy." Gisella Walker, Michael Kaplan A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Notes:(a) All students have a three-person science advisory committee; for E&ESJ students, the third committee member is always Kastens. Unless otherwise noted, the advisory committee members are based at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

The research component of Columbia University's Earth & Environmental Science Journalism program is supported by the National Science Foundation under grants EAR98-05727 and EAR04-53212. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.