Newsha Ajami, a recognized scientific researcher and environmental policy expert, has joined Berkeley Lab’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Area (EESA) as the Chief Development Officer for Research. In this role, Ajami will work to advance new and strategic partnerships, projects, initiatives, and impact within EESA.
Ajami joins EESA from Stanford University where she was the founding director of the Urban Water Policy program and a senior research scholar at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment. She is a leading expert in smart cities, resilient infrastructure, sustainable water resource management, and the water-energy-food nexus, and a hydrologist who uses data science principles to study the human and policy dimensions of natural systems in her own research.
“Newsha’s efforts throughout the years have been interdisciplinary and impact-focused,” said Jens Birkholzer, Director of the Energy Geosciences Division in EESA. “She has particularly engaged deeply on California challenges through partnerships with a range of industry, community, non-profit, university, and state agency groups. Her approach and expertise are well aligned with EESA’s strategic directions. We are thrilled to welcome her to EESA”.
EESA is a premier research organization that is home to hundreds of scientists focused on developing new insights and capabilities to observe and predict wildly diverse Earth system interactions that occur across scales and compartments, how they change with disturbance, and their impact on resources such as water, critical elements, infrastructure, and energy.
Ajami brings a passion for public policy and interdisciplinary research to her new role at Berkeley Lab, an organization founded on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams. As part of the EESA Executive Team, she will spearhead the cultivation and development of new partnerships and research programs associated with a broad range of sponsors.
“I am delighted to join EESA in this new role which combines my passion for developing and leading interdisciplinary and impact-driven research initiatives across both water and energy sectors,” Ajami said. “I can’t wait to further enable cutting-edge scientific exploration that can simultaneously advance strategies for climate adaptation and mitigation. The depth and breadth of talent at EESA and its collaborative culture are quite unique, and I look forward to cultivating broader internal and external strategic partnerships to expand the reach of the research that is being conducted at the lab. ”
Ajami was a gubernatorial appointee to the Bay Area Regional Water Quality Control Board, a regulatory body that oversees the protection of California’s water resources in the Bay Area, and is currently a mayoral appointee to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. She is a member of the National Academies Board on Water Science and Technology and serves as a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute. She received her doctorate in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California Irvine; a master’s in hydrology and water resources from the University of Arizona; and a bachelor’s in civil engineering from Tehran Polytechnic. Ajami has received many prestigious honors, including the National Science Foundation award for AMS Science and Policy Colloquium and the ICSC-World Laboratory Hydrologic Science.