Professor Named One of World’s Top Climate Scientists.

Headshot of Patrick Kinney
Environmental Health

Professor Named One of World’s Top Climate Scientists

Patrick Kinney, Beverly A. Brown Professor of Urban Health and Sustainability in the Department of Environmental Health, studies the health co-benefits of taking action to solve the climate crisis.

July 2, 2021
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Patrick Kinney, Beverly A. Brown Professor of Urban Health and Sustainability in the Department of Environmental Health, has been named one of the world’s top climate scientists by Reuters.

Reuters’ “Hot List” of climate scientists identifies and ranks 1,000 experts based on how influential they are according to a combination of metrics, including how many research papers they have published on topics related to climate change, how often those papers are cited by other scientists in similar fields, and how often those papers are referenced in the press, social media, and other outlets.

Kinney ranked number 207 on the list, with 374 publications and 12,575 citations.

“It is really gratifying to be included among this elite group,” says Kinney. “In academia, we publish a lot of papers, write grants, and train students, but we don’t often get feedback on the broader impacts of our work.”

Trained as an air pollution epidemiologist, Kinney joined the School of Public Health in 2017 after two decades at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, where he founded the first climate and health program. During his time at Columbia, Kinney’s work focused on the potential impacts of climate change on human health, including, for example, how extreme temperatures affect people living in cities.

After coming to SPH, however, Kinney says he wanted to shift his work to fit the framework of his urban health professorship, and began to focus his research on the health co-benefits of taking action to solve the climate crisis.

“Cities like Boston and New York have already started taking this approach at a local level, looking for climate solutions and setting ambitious carbon emission reduction goals,” he says. “A lot of the things we can do to reduce carbon emissions can also be healthy for urban populations, such as providing opportunities and infrastructure for bicycling and walking rather than driving, or creating more green spaces and planting trees in local parks to help adapt to the changing climate.”

With all that is happening in Washington—from new leadership in office to Congress starting to turn over with a younger, more climate-focused generation—Kinney says there is a newfound momentum behind tackling climate change at both the local and federal level. “For most of my career in this field, the importance of the climate problem has not been recognized by leadership,” he says. “So, it is really nice to see things start to change.”

Part of this change, Kinney says, is due to increasing evidence and research from public health experts that has helped to show policy makers the impacts of climate change on health through various pathways. The new Climate and Health program at SPH is contributing to this growing knowledgebase and helping to guide equitable solutions to this pressing problem.

“More and more, public health experts are being called on to help guide the actions cities are taking to tackle climate change in ways that promote both health and equity,” he says. “I think there is a lot of things to be encouraged by right now, and especially the extent to which public health is beginning to lead the way.”

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Professor Named One of World’s Top Climate Scientists

  • Mallory Bersi

    Mallory Bersi is the managing editor of Public Health Post at the School of Public Health. Profile

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