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The Climate, Environment and Public Health Working Group

The Climate and Environment Working Group is engaged in using its expertise to improve public health and public health education, in a variety of ways. Drs. Tarik Benmarhnia and Mark Merrifield (Bios to follow), commenced leadership of the Working Group in Fall of 2018. They are actively soliciting involvement of faculty, students, researchers and other professionals with expertise and interest in these areas:

Research initiatives include identifying existing local expertise and creating/maintaining a directory of associated PIs, seeking funding to support pilot projects in Climate & Health, discussing possible collaborations on new interdisciplinary, climate and public health-related pilot or full grant proposals.

Data sharing initiatives are also under consideration, including the possibility of creating an open UC San Diego database for non-confidential environmental and health data, to be available to Working Group members, and on associated visualization tools.

Educational initiatives are of keen interest to the Working Group, as well. Activities being considered include proposing a UC San Diego Minor in Climate, Capstone projects for Master of Advanced Studies on Climate Science & Policy, student projects for the SIO116 course on Climate Change & Global Health, and/or participating in UCOP efforts to integrate climate and health in Health Sciences curriculum.

Lastly, Climate/Environment Internship Development efforts could result in a forum for students and research assistants to gain experience or training in desired tools, techniques and/or topics, with some opportunities already available for hiring undergraduate or graduate students in different disciplines.

If you are interested in participating in any of these key activities, please contact the Institute, for more information on Working Group meetings and contacts: IPH@ucsd.edu

Climate, Environment and Public Health Working Group Co-Chairs

Merrifield Mark Merrifield, Director, PhD
Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation
Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Dr. Mark Merrifield has spent the past two decades studying global and regional sea-level change. A Scripps alumnus, Merrifield returned to Campus from a 20-year stint as Director of the University of Hawaii Sea Level Center, to direct the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Merrifield is an internationally recognized researcher in the areas of sea-level rise and climate variability, coastal oceanography, and nearshore processes. He received his PhD in Oceanography from Scripps in 1989, was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia from 1989 to 1991, followed by a return to Scripps as a project scientist and researcher. In 1994, he joined the faculty at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the Ocean Engineering Department, subsequently moving to the Oceanography Department from 1997-2017.

He has a longstanding interest in linking basic and applied research outcomes to practical solutions for societal benefit. Merrifield has had experience working with partners in academia, industry, government, and non-government organizations as the chair of the Global Sea Level Observing System, as the lead investigator of the Waves and Water Level component of the Pacific Integrated Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS), and as a lead author of the Sea Level Change chapter of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


BenmarhaniaTarik Benmarhnia, PhD
Department of Family Medicine and Public Health
Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Dr. Benmarhnia finished his PhD jointly from The University of Montreal and Paris Sud, and has also completed two Master’s degrees: one in Environmental Health Sciences Engineering from the French School of Higher Education in Public Health, and another in Pharmacy and Ecotoxicology from Montpellier University in France.

After obtaining his BA in Environmental Sciences from Montpellier University, Benmarhnia worked as an environmental scientist on contaminated soil issues, with the French Railway Company. He subsequently took a Health Scientist position with the French National Institute of Health Education and Prevention, and most recently was a post-doc at McGill University’s Institute for Health and Social Policy.

Dr. Benmarhnia joined the faculty at the University of California, San Diego with joint Assistant Professor appointments in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography-CASPO. In both roles he shares his unique expertise in combining atmospheric, econometric, and epidemiologic modelling, and contributes as a lecturer on environmental epidemiology, the impact of climate change on health, and advanced methods in epidemiology, among others.