At Data-Driven EnviroLab (DDL), we’re thrilled to introduce our newest addition to the team, Sarah Berk, PhD. With an impressive background in mathematics from the University of Exeter, UK and a passion for climate research, Sarah brings a wealth of expertise and enthusiasm to our lab as a Post-doctoral Researcher.

Sarah’s journey into the environmental policy space is admirably unconventional. After earning her undergraduate degree and a two-year foray into the world of finance, she decided to pivot to a field where she could use her mathematics and data science skills “make a more positive environmental impact.” This led Sarah to pursue a PhD at the University of East Anglia in their Climatic Research Unit, where she immersed herself in the study of urban heat islands.

In her doctoral research, Sarah utilized innovative machine-learning techniques to project future changes in surface urban heat islands (SUHI). Utilizing a dataset of cities with similar populations, elevation variations, and proximity to bodies of water, Sarah used satellite data to quantify the magnitude of SUHI. She then developed a statistical model based on climate-related predictive variables to project future changes in SUHI.

Sarah’s expertise on urban heat islands will be invaluable in advancing our research initiatives, particularly related to our Urban, Environment, and Social Inclusion Index (UESI) and recent NASA-funded project to study urban heat disparities. 

One aspect of Sarah’s work that particularly excites us is her eagerness to explore non-LST measurements and engage in hands-on fieldwork. In her doctoral research, Sarah found land surface temperature (LST) data to be limiting because it ignores important nuances like humidity and the cooling and heating effects of the surrounding built environment. Familiarity with field-specific research challenges like these makes Sarah well-poised to join our team and tackle issues on the cutting edge of climate research.

We’re honored to have Sarah on board and can’t wait to see how her expertise and enthusiasm contribute to our research. Welcome, Sarah!