Featured C+Ser: Aisha Muhammad


It was a fortuitous flyer that brought Aisha Muhammad to C+S.

She was headed to Columbia for a information session at the Business School when a C+S flyer changed the trajectory of her graduate studies. Intrigued, Aisha attended a C+S class and “was hooked and knew it would be a better outlet” for what she wanted to do.

Earth sciences weren’t totally new to Aisha. She completed a B.S. in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma. But climatology is only a small part of meteorology programs.

Aisha was eager to learn about the “implications that climate change and variability were having on global society.” And that’s, you know, what C+S is all about.

A big part of the program is the Program Related Work Opportunity (PRWO), which allows students to work with Columbia affiliated staff on real world research projects. For her PRWO, Aisha zoomed in on the impacts of climate on health, working with Madeleine Thomson at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI).

The project she spent most of her time working on is called Enhancing National Climate Services (ENACTS). The initiative was developed by IRI and its partners in Africa to provide reliable and readily accessible climate data at a high resolution to health decision makers.

The work was so engaging that when it came time for the C+S summer internship period, Aisha stuck around to continue her work on the project. Well, stuck around in the loose sense. A big part of her summer was a trip to Ethiopia to help with ENACTS training and capacity building with Ethiopia’s government and regional stakeholders from the African Climate Policy Center.

“I was literally putting climate research and adaptive tools into practice within developing countries before I graduated with my degree,” she said

Though she graduated in August 2015, Aisha’s work on ENACTS isn’t over. She’s now a Senior Research Staff Assistant at IRI and currently working with the national meteorological agencies and other government entities in eight African countries to improve the availability, access and use of climate information in decision-making. Aisha enjoys her role because its “dynamic, creative, and combines my nerdy love of meteorology and climatology.”

So next time you walk past a bulletin board, you might want to do a double take. You never know where those flyers could take you.

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