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CHEER Spotlight: Geeta G. Persad

July 18, 2023

Each quarter, the Center for Health and Environment: Education and Research spotlights a faculty member active in research in health and the environment. This installment features Geeta G. Persad, Ph.D., an assistant professor of climate science in the Jackson School of Geosciences, a native Austinite and a new member of the CHEER Steering Committee.

About Persad & Her Work

Persad’s research focuses on interactions between air pollution and climate change and improving the use for climate project data for decision-making. In 2020, she was recognized as a generation climate leader by the Environmental Defense Fund for her work illuminating the role of aerosol pollution in climate change and climate risk worldwide

Prior to joining The University of Texas at Austin, Persad led the Western Water and Climate Program for the Union of Concerned Scientists, conducting research and working directly with government agencies, legislatures and community stakeholders to improve climate planning in water management. Persad received her Ph.D. in atmospheric and oceanic sciences and a certificate in environmental policy from Princeton University. Prior to her doctorate, Persad served as a physical scientist in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Persad holds a B.S. in Geophysics from Stanford University.

Persad’s family comes from the tiny island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, whose economy has been both fueled and made fragile by use of the country’s petrochemical resources. Her connection to that country has made her deeply aware of the tension between energy and economic needs, as well as the climate and environmental realities associated with meeting them. Persad has spoken on aerosols and their climate impacts in several international venues, and she is passionate about building a diverse geoscience enterprise through mentorship and outreach. 

Quarterly Question

If you could build a garden with only three plants, what would you choose and why?

Persad: “I would grow rosemary, basil and yucca. They’re all hardy, low-water plants that have actually stayed alive in my garden, which has been one of those much-needed small joys over the last three years. I love using fresh basil and rosemary in the kitchen, and our unassuming yucca sends up an insane 10-foot flowering stalk once a year — a valuable reminder to this academic that patient investment can produce unexpected and beautiful results!”