Project Team

Catalina Spataru

Principal Investigator (PI) and Consortium Lead

The Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources
University College London
London, UK

Dr Catalina Spataru is a Professor in Global Energy and Resources, The Head and Scientific Director of Islands Research Laboratory at UCL. Her expertise range from theoretical investigations to implementation research and practice in energy, environment, resource nexus, risk assessment, people behaviour and response. She published over 100 papers and has written or edited 5 books on energy and resources, delivered several talks, interviewed for media. As the Head of Islands Laboratory she coordinates a team of 11 researchers who studies innovative solutions for islands towards a circular economy and assess trade-offs between resource use under different climatic conditions. She participated to the drafting of the EU Legislative framework for Safety and Resilience, contributed to decision makers for energy and resource use through use of scenario analysis and policy studies in Europe, West Africa, Asia, South America. She has been serving as a chair and co-chair of several international conferences and has served as Program Committee for several conferences.

Felix Dodds

Partner PI

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
USA

Felix Dodds is an Adjunct Professor and a Senior Affiliate at the Water Institute at the Environmental Science and Engineering within the Gilling School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina. He is also Associate Fellow at the Tellus Institute. He was the co-director of the 2014 and 2018 Nexus Conferences on Water, Food, Energy and Climate at UNC. In 2019 he was a candidate to be the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). He has written or edited 20 books on sustainable development. His latest book “Stakeholder Democracy: Representative Democracy in a Time of Fear” published in July 2019 by Routledge. In 2016 he co-edited “The Water, Food, Energy and Climate Nexus” with Dr. Jamie Bartram, Director of the Water Institute and a Foreword by HRH Prince Charles. Also, in 2016 he was a member of an informal expert group for the President of the UN General Assemblies Brookings Report: “Links in the Chain of Sustainable Finance: Accelerating Private Investments for the SDGs, including Climate Action.” He has written or edited twenty books including: “Negotiating the Sustainable Development Goals: A transformational agenda for an insecure world” (2016) written with the co-chair of the negotiations Ambassador David Donoghue and Jimena Leiva Roesch with a Foreword by former Irish President Mary Robinson. For the Sustainable Development Goals process he advised the Ford Foundation, the Communitas Coalition, Article 19, the World Animal Protection and the company AVIVA. He also set up and advises the government Friends of Governance for Sustainable Development.
Felix was the Executive Director of Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future from 1992-2012. He played a significant role in promoting multi-stakeholder dialogues at the United Nations and proposed to the UN General Assembly (1996) the introduction of stakeholder dialogue sessions at the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. In 2011, Felix was listed as one of 25 environmentalists ahead of his time. For Rio+20 he was on the Steering Committees for the major global scientific conference Planet Under Pressure Conference (2012), the German intergovernmental Conference on the Nexus of water-food-energy (2011) which he also organized the stakeholder engagement for as he did for the two other German intergovernmental Conferences Energy (2004) and Water (2001). For the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change he set up the Water and Climate Coalition which succeeded within three years to securing water into the climate text. In 2011 he chaired the United Nations DPI 64th NGO conference - 'Sustainable Societies Responsive Citizens'. The outcome document was the first one to put forward some suggestions on what the Sustainable Development Goals should be. From 1997-2001 he co-chaired the UN Commission on Sustainable Development NGO Steering Committee. He is also an International Ambassador for the City of Bonn.

Muhammed Imran

Partner PI

Computing Research Institute
Hamad Bin Khalifa University
Qatar

Dr. Muhammad Imran is a Scientist and Lead of the Crisis Computing team at Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI). His interdisciplinary research focuses on natural language processing, social computing, applied machine learning, human-computer interaction, and stream processing areas. He has more than eight years of experience in the field of Crisis Informatics. He analyzes social media communications during time-critical situations using big data analysis techniques such as data mining, machine learning, and deep neural networks. Dr. Imran received his PhD in computer science from the University of Trento in 2013. He then worked as a Postdoctoral researcher at QCRI from 2013 to 2015. Dr. Imran has published over 70 research papers in leading international conferences and journals including ACL, SIGIR, IJHCI, ICWSM, WWW, ASONAM, and ACM HT. Three of his papers received the "Best Paper" award and two "Best Paper Runner-up" award. He has been serving as a co-chair of the Social Media Studies track of the ISCRAM international conference since 2014 and has served as Program Committee for many major conferences and workshops.

Tomoya Shibayama

Partner PI

Coastal Engineering at Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Waseda University
Japan

Dr Tomoya Shibayama is a Professor of Coastal Engineering at Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. He is one of the top leaders of tsunami and storm surge disasters and their mitigation studies in Japan. He uses hydraulic laboratory experiments, field surveys and numerical simulations for the study. He served as team leaders of survey teams for all major tsunami and storm surge events in these fifteen years. He is the winner of 2019 Hamaguchi International Award For Enhancement of Tsunami/Coastal Disaster Resilience.

Pierluigi Siano

Partner PI

University of Salerno
Italy

Dr Pierluigi Siano is a Professor and Scientific Director of the Smart Grids and Smart Cities Laboratory with the Department of Management & Innovation Systems, University of Salerno. His research activities are centred on demand response, on the integration of distributed energy resources in smart grids and on planning and management of power systems. He has co-authored more than 450 papers including more than 200 international journal papers that received more than 7600 citations with an H-index equal to 44. He received the award as 2019 Highly cited Researcher by ISI WoS Group. He has been the Chair of the IES TC on Smart Grids.

Miguel Esteban

Co-I

Research Institute of Sustainable Future Society, Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Waseda University
Tokyo, Japan

Miguel Esteban is currently a Professor at the Research Institute of Sustainable Future Society, Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering of Waseda University, in Tokyo, Japan. He received his PhD in Coastal engineering from Yokohama National University in Japan in 2007, and then he continued his work with Post-Doctoral Fellowships and the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS), Kyoto University. Subsequently he also worked as an Associate Professor at The University of Tokyo. His research deals with a variety of different themes such as natural disasters, climate change, sea level rise, energy policy, law of the sea or coastal ecosystems.

Manta Devi Nowbuth

Co-I

University of Mauritius
Mauritius

Manta Devi Nowbuth is an Associate Professor and Head of the Civil Engineering Department at the Faculty of Engineering, at the University of Mauritius. She is a Civil Engineer by training and graduated with an MSc in Hydrology and Environmental Management from Imperial College, University of London. She completed her PhD in the field of Hydrogeology and undertook a Postdoctorate research study at the USGS, San Diego in the field of Contaminant Transport. She research has focused on the water sector with climate related disaster such as flood and drought being part of the local problems she has been researching upon. She has a good local network with institutions concerned with the problems of flood and drought in the country. She also has an extensive network in Africa, with WaterNet, WARFSA/SANWATCHE – University of Stellenbosh, South Africa, and the Global Water Partnership, Southern Africa. She was involved in the regional SADC project on Monitoring of the Environment for Security in Africa (MESA) and has since included training on flood modelling and remote sensing at undergraduate level.

Raimund Bleischwitz

Co-I

The Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and ResourcesUniversity College London
London, UK

Raimund Bleischwitz is Chair in Sustainable Global Resources at University College London (UCL) and Director of the UCL Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources (UCL BSEER). He has been Principal Investigator of an international collaborative project on the circular economy in China (SINCERE), and he participates in a number of EU projects on eco-innovation and raw minerals. Until July 2018 he was Deputy Director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources (UCL ISR). Raimund has a PhD and a ‘Habilitation’ in economics. His research interests cover sustainable development, resource efficiency, the resource nexus, conflict minerals, international governance, the interface of policy and industry, and resulted in more than 250 publications, most recently the Routledge Handbook of the Resource Nexus and a comment on the circular economy in Nature.

Yaw Agyeman Boafo

Co-I

Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Studies
University of Ghana
​Legon, Accra, Ghana

Yaw Agyeman Boafo is a social ecologist with a PhD in Sustainability Science from the at United Nations University Institute for Advanced Study of Sustainability, Japan, a master's degree in Environmental Science and a degree in Geography and Resource Development all from the University of Ghana. With his interdisciplinary orientation and an interest in combining social and ecological perspectives, Yaw has been working in the fields of climate and ecosystem change assessment, vulnerability and resilience in socio-ecological systems, food security, and disaster risk for sustainable development. From 2009 to 2018 Yaw was a researcher on several transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary projects including Anticipatory Learning on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience (ALCCAR) (2009-2011), Enhancing Resilience to Climate and Ecosystem Changes in Semi-Arid Africa: An Integrated Approach (CECAR Africa) (2011-2016) and Food Security Impacts of Industrial Crop Expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa (FICESSA’ (2015-2018). Yaw has been actively involved in global biodiversity and ecosystem research network and serving as a Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ (IPBES) Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (Deliverable 2c). Throughout his research career, Yaw has focused on using participatory methodologies to work with diverse stakeholders’ including local communities, development practitioners and policymakers to identify, understand,advance and apply, place-based and resilient solutions to sustainable development challenges.

Ferda Ofli

Co-I

Computing Research Institute
Hamad Bin Khalifa University
Qatar

Dr. Ferda Ofli is a senior scientist at Qatar Computing Research Institute. Before joining QCRI, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA from 2010 to 2014. He received the BSc degrees both in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and Computer Engineering, and the PhD degree in Electrical Engineering from Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey, in 2005 and 2010, respectively. His research interests cover computer vision, machine learning, and multimedia signal processing. He is a senior member of IEEE and ACM with over 50 publications in top-tier conferences and journals, and has won several best paper awards.

Ryo Matsumaru

Co-I

Department of Regional Development Studies
Toyo University
Tokyo, Japan

Dr. Ryo Matsumaru is currently working at the Department of Regional Development Studies, Toyo University as a Professor and Head of the Department. Before joining Toyo University, he was working at the civil engineering consulting firm and had a great deal of experience in water-related projects e.g. flood management, tsunami survey, water environment, etc. in various countries that includes developing countries as well as Japan. He serves as the director of the Japan Society for International Development.

Takahito Mikami

Co-I

Department of Urban and Civil Engineering
Tokyo City University
Japan

Dr. Takahito Mikami is currently working as an associate professor at the Department of Urban and Civil Engineering, Tokyo City University. By conducting analysis and comparison of coastal disaster events around the world and numerical simulations/hydraulic experiments on a physical process of coastal phenomena, he is working on the mechanisms of disaster damage, measures to mitigate the damage caused by disasters, the vulnerability and risk of coastal communities to disasters and climate change, and the future of coastal communities.

Ebenezer Amankwaa

Co-I

University of Ghana
Legon, Accra, Ghana

Ebenezer F. Amankwaa is an Urban Geographer and a Lecturer at the Department of Geography and Resource Development, University of Ghana. He is an Affiliate of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), and previously worked as a Postdoc Research Fellow at the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA). His research interest spans across the fields of social, economic and development geography with specific focus on water and energy infrastructure; informality, mobility and livelihoods; environmental management; public health; and governance and resilience. He is particularly interested in promoting inclusive development and environmental sustainability, including an analysis of pro-poor urban governance, climate change adaptation and the application of transdisciplinary research methodology. His research works on urban transformation and sustainability have shaped not only urban policies but also translated into interventions in the e-waste recycling facility in Accra.

Ryota Nakamura

Co-I

Civil Engineering Program
Faculty of Engineering
Niigata University
Japan

Dr. Ryota Nakamura is an assistant professor at Civil Engineering Program, Faculty of Engineering, Niigata University, Japan. His primary interest includes climate change impact assessment on atmospheric and oceanic extremes, coastal flood risk management and morphological changes in estuary and coastal area. Especially, he has proposed regionally applicable methodologies to investigate the effects of atmospheric and oceanic environments under climate change scenarios on precipitation, oceanic waves and storm surges caused by cyclones. Also, he is a winner of several grants from Japan Society for Promotion of Science and other foundations.

Tomoyuki Takabatake

Co-I

Research Institute of Sustainable Future Society
Waseda University
Japan

Dr. Tomoyuki Takabatake is an assistant professor at the Research Institute of Sustainable Future Society, Waseda University, Japan. His primary areas of expertise are coastal engineering, coastal disaster and disaster management. In particular, he has been developing and applying an agent-based tsunami evacuation simulation model to enhance resilience of coastal communities towards tsunami hazard. He is the winner of several research awards, including the 2018 Best Paper Award for Young Researcher of JSCE. He also has several years’ experience of working as a coastal and hydraulic engineer at Taisei Corporation, which is one of the biggest construction companies in Japan.

Sameerchand Pufaruth

Co-I

University of Mauritius
Mauritius

Sameerchand Pudaruth is a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of ICT in the Faculty of Information, Communication & Digital Technologies, at the University of Mauritius. He holds a First Class degree in Computer Science and Engineering and a Masters in Computer Science. In 2013, he graduated with an LLB from the University of London. His current research expertise and interests are in Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, Data Science and Cyber Laws. He has presented research papers in international conferences and published many papers in internationally recognised journals. In particular, in 2019 he has published the paper, "Emergency Preparedness through Game Playing”. He is a member of the internationally renowned ACM and IEEE societies. He is one of the founders of the IEEE Mauritius Subsection. He is the Vice-Chair of the IEEE Mauritius Section. He is an MQA (Mauritius Qualifications Authority) approved trainer and has successfully delivered many training courses (Web Technologies, Mobile Applications Development, etc) on a national basis. Sameerchand is also the author of a programming book in Python: Python in One Week.

Martin Mäll

Postdoctoral Researcher (May 2020 – March 2023)

Research Institute of Sustainable Future Society,
Waseda University
Japan

Dr. Martin Mäll is a postdoctoral researcher in the Research Institute of Sustainable Future Society, at Waseda University, Japan. His background is in the field of environmental technology and coastal engineering and management. The primary expertise and research focus lie on various numerical modelling techniques and approaches to study present and future weather extremes and consequent impacts on coastal communities. During doctoral studies in Japan he received the MEXT Scholarship and JSPS Fellowship for pursuing research in furthering the understanding of disasters of tomorrow. For a brief time he also worked in the Estonian Marine Institute and Tallinn University.

Elizabeth Christenson-Diver

Postdoctoral Researcher (May - Dec 2020)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
USA

Elizabeth Christenson is a postdoctoral research associate at the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). Her background is in environmental science grounded in public health and an understanding of community-based participatory research. She earned her PhD in 2019 from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering assessing the effects of industrial hog farms on surface water quality. Elizabeth brings a holistic perspective to the design and implementation of complex, interdisciplinary projects using the most appropriate spatial, analytic, or laboratory tools to produce actionable results and to evaluate project implementation. Her research topics have included resilience and vulnerability to climate hazards, disparate access to WaSH, environmental exposure and transmission of pathogens, and microbial water quality.

Carmen Anthonj

Postdoctoral Researcher (April - May 2020)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
USA

Dr. Carmen Anthonj is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina and an affiliate to the GeoHealth Centre at the Institute for Hygiene and Public Health at the University of Bonn, Germany. She uses holistic approaches to address water security and water-related risks, WASH, human health and climate change in complex settings. Her most recent research was on the impact of extreme weather events such as floods and tropical cyclones on domestic water and sanitation infrastructure and on health systems in Small Island Developing States in the Pacific in close collaboration with country governments. Dr. Anthonj has consulted with the World Health Organization and UNICEF, and provided policy advise to governments in Europe, Southeast Asia, South America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania, using local risk perceptions to improve policy-making and programming. She has authored more than 15 academic publications and more than 10 science-policy reports.

Priscila Carvalho

Research Fellow (Oct 2020 - April 2022)

Energy Institute
University College London
London, UK

Priscila Carvalho is Research Fellow in Environmental law and Sustainability under the UCL Islands Laboratory. After finishing her Master’s degree under UCL Laws in 2013, she pursued an interdisciplinary PhD at the UCL Energy Institute on the water-energy nexus with a focus on justice, regulation and co-governance of resources in Brazil. Her previous experience in legal consultancy on regulated sectors and environmental law combined with her interdisciplinary research skills makes her a unique scholar seeking a deep and real-world awareness of justice, equity and fairness which provide the foundation of robust governance systems and alleviation of vulnerability to advance equitable disaster risk reduction and resilience.

Victor Lopez

Research Fellow (Oct 2020 - April 2022)

Energy Institute
University College London
London, UK

Victor Lopez is a computer scientist who holds a PhD in machine learning and computer vision. His main contributions to the scientific community and expertise are transversal and multidisciplinary. His research focuses on recognizing patterns from multimodal data and has been applied in several domains and AI real-world problems - such as in affective computing, e-health, or Earth sciences. He boosts deep learning and evolutionary computation to steer novel approaches for the benefit of society. He is also a member of the European laboratory for learning and intelligent systems (ELLIS).

Zainab Akhtar

Research Assistant (Nov 2020 – March 2023)

Computing Research Institute
Hamad Bin Khalifa University
Qatar

Zainab Akhtar has experience with the fundamentals of GIS where she is able to analyze and visualize data to uncover relationships that are not readily apparent. She has gained this skill during her Bachelor’s at Carnegie Mellon University Qatar. In particular, her interest centers around using different research methods to effectively tackle humanitarian issues with the help of social media, machine learning algorithms and GIS software.

Eric Boamah Boakye-Danquah

Research Assistant (Sept 2020)

University of Ghana
Legon, Accra, Ghana

Eric Boamah Boakye-Danquah has worked as a research assistant on several projects within the University of Ghana, Legon. He has a background in Geography and Resource Development haven obtained both MPhil and Bachelor’s degrees in 2017 and 2014 respectively from the University of Ghana’s Geography department. His research interest is centred around environmental change, land use change, natural resource management and Geo Information science.

Ranger Ruffins

Graduate Student - M.A. City and Regional Planning (May-Dec 2020)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
USA

Ranger Ruffins is a Master's student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), pursuing a degree in City and Regional Planning. Her area of focus is land use and environmental planning with a specific interest in resilience in the face of natural hazard disasters and the ability for cities to adapt to the effects of a changing climate. She earned her BA in Environmental Studies in 2016 where she grew interested in the nexus between environmental challenges, social justice, and human well-being. To bridge these interests, Ranger studied Global Development Studies in Uganda for a semester and spent a summer at the UNC Galapagos Science Center. After graduating, Ranger worked in New York as the Environment Program Assistant at The Overbrook Foundation, working on grant development for the foundation’s environment portfolio.

Julia Maron

Graduate Student - M.A. City and Regional Planning (May - Dec 2020)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
USA

Julia Maron is a first year Master's student in the Department of City and Regional Planning at UNC Chapel Hill. Her background is in environmental studies and geography and has spent the past two years as a research assistant with the UNC Institute for the Environment. She is interested in research areas of community engagement, natural hazard risk reduction, and land use planning for conservation.

Taylor Franklin

Graduate Student - M.S. Environmental Sciences & Engineering (May - Dec 2020)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
USA

Taylor Franklin was an intern for the Water Institute at UNC during the Summer of 2020 while she was completing her Master of Science in Public Health from the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Taylor's research background is in environmental microbiology and she completed an analysis of microbial contaminants found in private, drinking-water wells in Robeson County, North Carolina for her technical report. Her work is largely shaped by the environmental-justice lens and seeks to improve stakeholder outreach, raise awareness for the link between environment and health, and support inclusive research design."

Sarah Bates

Graduate Student - MSPH Environmental Sciences & Engineering (August - Dec 2020)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
USA

Sarah Bates is a Graduate Research Assistant at the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). As a Civil Engineering undergraduate, Sarah worked with a grassroots non-profit to investigate water scarcity concerns in a community in Kerala, India. After graduating in 2017, Sarah worked as a Water Resources Engineer at AECOM, where she designed Green Stormwater Infrastructure to reduce combined sewer overflow as a consultant for Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters initiative. Her work at AECOM also focused on hydraulic and hydrologic modelling, and stormwater compliance. Sarah is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Public Health at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering.

Cate Byrne

Undergraduate - B.A. Political Science & Economics (May - Dec 2020)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
USA

Cate Byrne is a research assistant and undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill completing her Bachelor's in Political Science and Economics with a minor in Sustainability Studies. She intends to begin a JD program in the fall of 2021. Cate is passionate about environmental justice and focuses on upholding vulnerable community perspectives in environmental policy and research, largely inspired by her work as a Disaster Case Manager in coastal North Carolina communities. Her undergraduate capstone addresses racial disparities in North Carolina water utility finances during COVID-19, and as a 2020 Burch Fellow, Cate is also conducting exploratory research on best practices in building equitable drought resiliency strategies following the Cape Town water crisis.

Hope Thomson

Graduate student - MPH Environmental Health Solutions (August - Dec 2020)