Past Event

Clean Skies Over Our Cities: Lessons from the Covid-19 Lockdown

October 20, 2020
9:00 PM - 11:00 PM
Event time is displayed in your time zone.



Time: 9:00 pm (China) | 6:30 pm (India) | 1:00 pm (GMT) | 9:00 am (New York) 

Can future cities have clearer skies? The disruption of human activities during the recent coronavirus lockdown has enabled us to imagine the possibility of a world with improved air quality. The panel will bring together scientists working in China, India, and Kenya who will discuss the status of air pollution during this period of industrial slowdown and reduced emissions, as well as analyze the opportunities for long-term gains. Drawing from their research, they will deliberate upon pathways for strategic implementation of clean-air policies and practices in energy management, consumer choice, and school and healthcare systems.

We welcome all Columbia current students to watch the event live at Columbia-dedicated WeWork spaces in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. Join us to share your insights and exchange with your fellow students!


  • V. Faye McNeill, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Columbia University
  • Daniel Westervelt, Associate Research Scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory,  Columbia University 
  • Arlene M. Fiore, Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University


  • Ravina Aggarwal, Director of Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai 


About the Speakers
V. Faye McNeill

V. Faye McNeill is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Columbia University, where she is the Chair of the Undergraduate Program. She joined Columbia in 2007 and received tenure in 2014.  As a Professor and researcher in Columbia, she and her research group are using the results of their work to improve large-scale models of atmospheric chemistry and climate, thereby enhancing their prognostic ability, providing insight into the effects of human activity on the environment, and setting the stage for smart policy decisions.  In 2009, she received the NSF CAREER and the ACS Petroleum Research Fund Doctoral New Investigator awards.  She was also the recipient of the Kenneth T. Whitby Award of AAAR in 2015. She is an Associate Editor for ACS Earth and Space Chemistry.  Professor McNeill completed her PhD in chemical engineering from MIT in 2005, where she was a NASA Earth System Science Fellow.


Dr. Daniel Westervelt

Dr. Daniel Westervelt, Associate Research Scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has more than a decade of experience working at the intersection of air pollution, climate change, and atmospheric chemistry using physical modeling, remote sensing, and surface measurement approaches. Westervelt and his group lead projects on air pollution data collection, climate modeling, and training and capacity building in seven sub-Saharan African cities. His projects have been funded by the National Science Foundation and the United States Department of State. He also serves as a US Department of State supporting Air Quality scientist for Congo-Kinshasa, Congo-Brazzaville, and Accra. Dr. Westervelt received his PhD in Environmental Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and did his postdoctoral work at Princeton University.


Arlene M. Fiore

Arlene M. Fiore is a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Columbia University.  Her research on tropospheric chemistry includes a focus on the two-way interactions between air pollution and climate change. Her research group analyzes ground-based, aircraft, and satellite observations alongside models to study the processes controlling air pollution on scales ranging from urban to global and daily to decadal. For the past decade, Professor Fiore was a Principal Investigator with the NASA Air Quality and Applied Sciences and Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Teams. She has served on the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate of the National Academy of Sciences and on the Steering Committee for the IGAC/SPARC Chemistry-Climate Modeling Initiative. She has co-authored more than 100 peer reviewed papers and is a recipient of the American Geophysical Union’s Macelwane medal. She completed her Ph.D. degree in year 2003 in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Harvard University.


 Ravina Aggarwal

Ravina Aggarwal has been the Director of the Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai since 2015. She is a sociocultural anthropologist with a doctoral degree from Indiana University in 1994. Dr. Aggarwal taught in the Department of Anthropology at Smith College, where she became a tenured faculty member. Her research is based on extensive fieldwork in the Himalayas and her areas of study and teaching included political anthropology, peace-building, cultural studies, gender, and development. Prior to joining the Mumbai Center, Dr. Aggarwal worked at the Ford Foundation’s New Delhi office from 2007-2015, where she was responsible for strategic planning and grant-making for programs on development, social justice and public policy, with a focus on the fields of education, media and information technology, and arts and culture. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Mumbai-based Urban Design Research Institute and is one of the two founders of the Ladakh Arts and Media Organisation. Dr. Aggarwal is the author of several publications, including Beyond Lines of Control: Performing the Border in Ladakh, India (Duke University Press, Seagull Books) and the editor of Into the High Ranges (Penguin India) and Forsaking Paradise (Katha). She has recently completed Songbird (forthcoming Zubaan), a mystery novel for young adults set in the Himalayas.