Zoe Chafe

PhD Candidate
UC Berkeley
Global Environmental Change
Berkeley, California


What led you to Earth and Space science?

After studying human/environment interactions as an undergraduate and working at an independent environmental research organization (Worldwatch Institute), I became interested in the idea that we could better communicate large environmental challenges, such as climate change, by exploring their impacts on human health and community health. This motivated me to pursue graduate degrees focused on climate change and public health.


How long have you been a member of AGU and why did you join?

I joined AGU in 2010, when I presented a poster at the AGU Fall Meeting. I was thrilled by the diversity of global environmental change research at the meeting, and decided to become more involved, serving as a student representative for the Global Environmental Change Focus Group.


What are you working on now?

I’ve just completed my role as chapter scientist for the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report chapter on human health. I am finishing my dissertation on the outdoor air pollution (PM2.5) and climate effects of cooking/heating with solid fuels (wood, coal, agricultural waste). I find that 370,000 people die prematurely each year from the outdoor air pollution created by these cooking fuels, a problem that could be solved with increased access to electricity and cooking gas. I am broadening my research to look at other “co-benefits” for health that can come from climate change mitigation options, and am ramping up my work on climate change/health communication.