Aly Sanoh, PhD in Sustainable Development Candidate, expected to graduate in May 2012.
During his six years in SIPA’s PhD program, Sanoh has focused on national electricity planning in and across African countries. He has published his first two papers on this topic:
Sanoh has already made a difference in real-world policy decisions. The infrastructure modeling that he did in these papers for local and national electricity planning in Senegal and Kenya was a factor in the World Bank’s decision to finance a $20 million wind project in Senegal and a $60 million energy project in Kenya, according to him.
A central topic of his thesis has been an infrastructure development project that looks at expanding electricity networks in Africa on a continental scale by conducting economic modeling.
For example, there are security issues. The Congo has a lot of resources and little need, while South Africa has little resources and high need. However, there are risks in having your resources depend on a country that’s at war. Sanoh proposes different scenarios to minimize risks.
- Michelle Chahine
Losses one year after a natural disaster are much greater than those estimated during the same year, particularly when it comes to decreases in income and increases in female infant mortality rates.
This is a major finding of the 2011 study, Destruction, Disinvestment, and Death: Economic and Human Losses Following Environmental Disaster,by Jesse Anttila-Hughes, a candidate for SIPA’s PhD in Sustainable Development, and Solomon M. Hsiang, an alumnus of the program and postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University.
“The paper has pretty direct policy implications - which is generally what I aim for. I think it’s very difficult to do environmental risk work without it being policy related. It directly informs disaster response policy,” said Anttila-Huges.
For example, the paper shows that, in the year after disasters, “more people die than we thought, particularly females,” he added.
By looking at data from the Philippines after typhoons, they found the increase in infant mortality is mostly attributed to the death of female infants. This is driven by economic factors, according to Anttila-Hughes.
In addition, he explained that households with multiple children, particularly older sons, have higher rates of female infants dying.
“The fact that a lot of environmental impacts affect females is very interesting to me. There is a lot that can be done to intervene to change that,” he said.
Anttila-Hughes has been in the PhD program since the fall of 2006, focusing on environmental risk, disasters and demography, climate impact on public health, and behavioral responses to environmental risk.
He studied physics during his undergraduate education at Harvard University, along with several languages - he is fluent in Spanish, French, Mandarin and Japanese. The relationship between his studies led him to SIPA’s doctoral program:
“Physics gave me quantitative skills that I needed… What makes the sustainable development PhD different is we’re expected to do a lot of work in the sciences.
Foreign languages and international affairs [experience] had me thinking about the link between the two,” said Anttila-Hughes, describing the connections he began to make between science, international affairs and international development. “I found this PhD program, which is everything I wanted.”
Anttila-Hughes and Hsiang have a blog together: “Fight Entropy: The Global Environment and Economic Development.”
- Michelle Chahine