Research Highlights

October 12, 2016

Emory, Nanjing University, Carter Center Discuss U.S.-China Cooperation on Air Quality and Climate Change

On October 12th Emory University hosted “Beyond Diplomacy: Opportunities for U.S. – China Cooperation on Climate Change.” As the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG), the U.S. and China face similar trials the require innovative solutions. Following a two-day research symposium exploring the potential for Emory and Nanjing Universities to work together on climate research, faculty from both universities held a public session to discuss their collaborative proposals on energy, air pollution, and agriculture and to explain how these projects contribute to solving pressing problems in the world. This event was kicked off by Emory Interim Provost Stuart Zola, Nanjing University Executive Vice Chancellor Zhong Yang, and Carter Center Vice President Jordan Ryan, followed by a great panel of experts from all three institutions.
The event was organized by the Halle Institute for Global Learning, the Confucius Institute in Atlanta, and the Carter Center China Program.   

Emory Nanjing

July 7, 2016

Wes Longhofer's research examines the issue of "disproportionality" in fossil fuel-burning power plant emissions

Emory University's Goizueta Business School Professor, Wes Longhofer, co-authored a study published in the Nature Research Journal, Scientific Reports. The study explores the idea that some plants produce a heftier share of a nation’s total electricity-based emissions than others.  

March 10, 2016

Dr. Robert Agnew's research links climate change to an increase in crime

Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Sociology, Dr. Agnew, recently won the American Society of Criminology’s highest honor for his pioneering work on the causes of crime. His most recent published research, in particular, sheds some light on how climate change will impact most of the leading causes of crime, perpetuating the problem.


March 9, 2016

Dr. Eri Saikawa's research contributes to our understanding of the net balance of greenhouse gases on every region of Earth's landmasses

The study, published in Nature found that human-induced emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from ecosystems overwhelmingly surpass the ability of the land to soak up carbon dioxide emissions, which makes the terrestrial biosphere a contributor to climate change.


March 2, 2016

Dr. Karen Levy's research reveals that rising temperatures increase the cases of diarrhea in many countries

The study, published by in the Journal of Infectious Disease highlights the interconnected nature of climate change, infectious disease and children's health. Efforts to treat current diarrhea diseases risk being overwhelmed as temperatures rise and spur more illness. Dr. Levy makes the case that investing in water and sanitation improvement should be considered a form of climate adaptation.


August 6, 2015

Emory physical chemist , Dr. Lian, researches light-driven charge transfer for solar energy conversion.

In a paper published in Science, Emory's Tim Lian and colleagues reported the discovery of a new way to use plasmons - a special motion of electrons on a metal's surface - to harness sunlight for energy. Read Carol Clark's eScienceCommons story here.

Emory physical chemist, Dr. Lian, researches light-driven charge transfer for solar energy conversion.

June 29, 2015

Dr. Burton's research helps solve the mystery of glacial earthquakes

Justin Burton's work, published in Science, details research providing an explaination for how iceberg calving during glacial melting causes glacial earthquakes. See here for more information.

burton glacier

June 1, 2015

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)-funded study assessing climate change and heat-related morbidity among vulnerable populations in Atlanta

A growing body of evidence demonstrates the effects of temperature extremes on health, with considerable research pointing to increased morbidity and mortality due to extreme heat, particularly in the elderly. Evidence also suggests that, along with demographic shifts, these associations have important implications for public health going forward, as extreme heat events are expected to increase in frequency, intensity, and duration. However, there remain significant gaps in understanding the current and future health impacts of heat, including assessment of sensitive subpopulations and uncertainty quantification in health impact projections. Dr. Stefanie Sarnat and her research team are conducting a detailed assessment of heat-related morbidity and climate change health impacts for Atlanta, Georgia.  This project will provide a further understanding of heat-related morbidity, including identification of sensitive subpopulations, intra-urban patterns of risk due to determinants of heat vulnerability, and estimation of future excess heat-related morbidity in Atlanta. These results will ultimately aid in supporting and prioritizing targeted intervention efforts and will be significant for informing emergency preparedness related to extreme heat and climate change. 

atl traffic

November 17, 2014

New Study: climate change affects spread of infectious diseases in China

Working with Dr. Justin Remais, Emory School of Medicine student Maggie Hodges and Environmental Health Sciences doctoral student Jessica Belle examined how, despite China’s rapid progress improving water, sanitation and hygiene (WSH) infrastructure and access, infectious diseases in China associated with poor WSH conditions might be exacerbated by climate change in 2020 and 2030. 


They used estimates of the temperature sensitivity of diarrheal disease and three vector-borne diseases, temperature projections from global climate models using four emissions pathways, WSH-infrastructure development scenarios and projected demographic changes, to estimate the projected impacts of climate change by 2030. Their research found that climate change may delay China’s historically rapid progress toward reducing the burden of WSH-attributable infectious disease by 8-85 months.


October 2014

Alongside colleagues from Yale and UNC, Emory's Dr. Karen Levy convened a side session on climate change and diarrheal diseases at the annual UNC Water and Health Conference in 2014

Experts addressed the overarching question of how diverse scientists and practitioners can better integrate their approaches in order to predict the impact of climate change in resource low settings, and to design adaptation strategies to improve resilience to climate change, as well as prevention strategies that can work in the present as well as in the future. 


September 3, 2014

Polar ice and climate change

The polar regions of our planet show an alarming sensitivity to climate change. Ice is rapidly being discharged into the ocean from the margins of the Greenland and Antartic ice sheets. In order to better understand the physics of this process, Dr. Justin Burton and his collaborators study the dynamics of floating icebergs on a laboratory scale. See this feature in Emory's eScienceCommons for more information.


May 13, 2014

Emory launches $2.3 million study on water quality and waterborne disease in a changing and more variable climate

remais A five-year research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) is supporting the development of new computational approaches for better understanding and responding to infectious disease risks that result from a changing and variable climate. "Waterborne disease causes millions of deaths each year, mostly among children, and more than 2 billion people in tropical and subtropical regions have limited access to clean water and adequate sanitation," says Dr. Justin Remais, Associate Professor of Environmental Health and principal investigator of the project. "Identifying sustainable responses to future water supply and quality problems is essential to reducing the global burden of waterborne diseases," he adds. Remais' research team is developing open-source computational models of surface water quality and waterborne disease risk that account for complex relationships between meteorological phenomena and pathogen growth, survival and transport, using as test sites well-studied regions in western China and northern Ecuador. The research is funded by the NSF's Water, Sustainability and Climate Program, which is part an NSF-wide initiative in Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability. To learn more, see additional information here.


March 2014

Dr. Jeremy Hess' work on extreme heat and health in India

Jeremy Hess contributed to a paper describing the development of an evidence-based heat preparedness plan and early warning system in an urban area of Guajarat, India. Read it here!


September 27, 2013

National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA)-funded study assessing the terrestrial and atmospheric nitrogen cycle

Soils are a significant source of atmospheric nitrous oxide (N2O), a third-largest anthropogenic greenhouse gas that also contributes to the stratospheric ozone depletion. Dr. Eri Saikawa and her collaborators at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) created a numerical model to estimate the impact of N2O emissions from soil. Simulation results suggest that the El Niño events decrease N2O emissions in tropical South Asia, while the opposing La Niña causes a spike, modifying these emissions on a global scale. These results are highlighted in Nature Geoscience and more information can be found from here


Grants and Current Research Projects

  1. NOAA Climate Program AC4 program: Assessing the Terrestrial and Atmospheric Nitrogen Cycle. Dr. Eri Saikawa, PI (2013-2016).
  2. NIEHS R21: Climate change and heat-related morbidity among vulnerable populations in Atlanta. Dr. Stefanie Sarnat, PI (2013-2015).
  3. USDA/NIFA: Evaluating the sustainability of bioenergy production in the Southeast for wildlife and pollinators across spatial scales. Dr. Berry Brosi, co-PI (2012-2016).
  4. USEPA Clean Air Research Center: Southeastern Center for Air Pollution and Epidemiology (SCAPE)Drs. Paige Tolbert and Armistead Russell, Co-Directors; Project 4: A Multi-City Time-Series Study of Pollutant Mixtures and Acute Morbidity includes planned assessment of the impact of temperature and climate on air pollution-health associations. Dr. Stefanie Sarnat, PI (2011-2015).
  5. USAID Livestock Climate Change Collaborative Support Program: Climate Vulnerability and Pastoralist Livestock Marketing Chains in Ethiopia. Dr. Peter Little, PI (2011-2015).
  6. NSF DEB PCE: Pollinator Diversity and Foraging Specialization. Dr. Berry Brosi, PI (2011-2015).
  7. NSF DMUU: Center for Research on Environmental Decisions. Dr. Carla Roncoli, PI (2010-2015).
  8. Energy Foundation: An Integrated Assessment of Emissions, Air Quality, Economic, and Health Impacts of Transport Policies in China. Dr. Eri Saikawa, PI (2013-2015)
  9. NSF Atmospheric Chemistry: Collaborative Research: Measurements of Selected Combustion Emissions in Nepal and Bhutan Integrated with Source Apportionment and Chemical Transport Modeling for South Asia. Dr. Eri Saikawa, co-PI (2015-2017).