In Memoriam: Lisa Marie Goddard, 1966-2022

Lisa Goddard, professor, senior research scientist, and former director of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society of Columbia University, died on January 13 in Mt. Kisco, New York. She was 55 years old and had waged a five-year battle with breast cancer.

“Her contributions to our understanding of climate were important, but her commitment to ensuring that climate information was accessible and meaningful to decision makers across the globe was game-changing,” said Alex Halliday, dean of the Columbia Climate School. Under Dr. Goddard’s direction, the International Research Institute for Climate and Society focused on providing information and training mainly to developing countries that had scant resources in meteorology and climate. Dr. Goddard traveled widely in Africa, Asia, and South America to do research and help set up programs to train and otherwise aid scientists. The forecasts were then applied to questions like what crops to plant next season; whether relief agencies should pre-position funding to deal with potential floods, droughts or heat waves; and the prospects that a proposed dam would get enough water supply to provide hydroelectricity or irrigation.

A native of Sacramento, Dr. Goddard earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of California, Berkeley. She went on to earn a Ph.D. at Princeton, where her research focused on the effects of El Niño-La Niña cycles on the global climate.

After earning her Ph.D., Dr. Goddard worked at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. Initially a collaboration between the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Columbia University with an outpost at Scripps, it became the world’s first international institute to try filling the yawning gap between daily weather predictions and long-term climate-change research.

In 2000, Dr. Goddard moved to the institute’s main headquarters on the suburban campus of Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York. She served as director of the institute from 2012 to 2020.

Filed Under: In Memoriam


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