Amir Siraj


  • BSc, Addis Ababa University, Mathematics, 1993
  • MA, Columbia University, Climate and Society, 2009
  • PhD candidate, University of Denver, Geography, 2013

Amir Siraj came to the University of Denver in 2010 as a PhD student in Geography, and joined the Pardee Center as a Research Assistant in the same year. His research focuses on the relationship between spatial and temporal patterns of climatic/environmental factors and patterns of infectious diseases. He became interested in the field after having worked in regions of his native Ethiopia where epidemic malaria claims the lives of thousands of children and adults following seasonal and inter-annual climatic patterns. Working with various organizations, including the World Health Organization and the United Nations, he managed the data capture and synthesis of daily patient databases, weather data and the geographic information system (GIS), which enabled the creation of continuous and discrete maps of the disease. He also collaborated on articles published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and in the Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences.

At Columbia University Amir studied the theoretical framework of how climatic variability and change can influence patterns of public health hazards across the globe. He also studied the relationships between lagged seas surface temperature (SST) – a major climate driver for Ethiopian highlands – and temporal patterns of malaria, attempting to use the physical phenomenon as a prediction tool for epidemic malaria outbreaks. Amir’s studies at the University of Denver will further seek to characterize and model the patterns of disease over parts of the Ethiopian highlands, and show how and if they are influenced by climate/environmental factors. Based on the lessons learnt, he will then assess changes in patterns of diseases in the context of the changing global climate.