Featured Faculty: Andrew Kruczkiewicz

andrew k

Why did you come to the Climate and Society program?

I was looking for a program rooted in physics or atmospheric science with a strong applied component. My background is a mix of finance and meteorology, and I aspired to find a program that allowed me to leverage the strengths of both. C+S was perfect as it helped improve my physical science skills, but afforded me the opportunity to connect with related disciplines, such as social science, international policy, and urban planning.

What makes the program so unique?

There are three things that stand out. Relevance – understanding that climate variability and change is one of the most important issues of our generation. C+S presents a balanced approach between research, policy, and practice to address climate-related challenges.

Collaboration – C+S has a feeling of intimacy, which fosters engagement amongst students from a variety of backgrounds.

Passion – the students, faculty, and alumni all embody passion for studying climate. Each student is driven to explore the complexities of climate with the ultimate goal of taking action, and the growing alumni network is always willing to support current students.

What do you hope students take away from the program, and your class?

Students should take away the basics of climate change and understand how climate impacts decision-making in their sector of interest. Enhancing their knowledge of the physical science is a must as well as understanding the importance of social science in the context of climate risk management.

I am excited to teach the Applications in C+S course again this spring! We will discuss how climate information is used in various sectors, including policy, communication, and energy. The main goal of the course is to give students an understanding of career paths that await them after graduation and the opportunity to engage with professionals working across the field.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

My current work is really exciting! First, I am developing a dataset for flash floods in North America using big data and remote sensing. Second, I am working with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre on using forecasts to trigger humanitarian preparedness before a disaster occurs.

What are some key issues you see at the intersection of climate and society?

One issue is the science of attributing extreme events to climate change. Another is linking satellite data to community level climate risk solutions, especially in areas without historical weather station data. And a third area is the role of risk perception in the context of early warning systems. That’s a part of the field where research continues to evolve, but with every extreme weather event, we are reminded that there are challenges and why it’s so important.

What’s your favorite thing to do in NYC and why?

Again, three things come to mind. Culture — the Met is awesome. You can check out music shows in Brooklyn and Queens, and of course New York has many sports teams, and you can definitely score cheap tickets if you don’t mind the bleachers or nosebleeds.

Food — pizza. Make sure you try a variety of styles as many have emerged over the past 10 years. Have fun trying as many as you can, and remember to venture outside of Morningside Heights!

Everyday life — just walking around New York is one of my favorite things to do. Even after growing up in the region, I still enjoy taking the bus or subway to a random stop and checking out the neighborhood.

Where’s your favorite place to travel and why?

Namibia is near the top of the list. From stark landscapes to unique topography to amazing people, it is a special place. One of my favorite things was climbing the 1,000-foot high dunes at sunrise near Sossusvlei.

Any words of wisdom for our current and potential new students?

Take advantage of the resources at Columbia and in New York City. Reach out to professors, people, alumni, anyone! Remember that being a C+S student is about more than getting a degree; it is focusing on a topic you are passionate about. It is also important to step back from your work every now and then to reflect on the big picture.

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