Sonya Ahamed, PhD


Dr. Ahamed is a transdisciplinary scholar with two decades of experience in human-environment interactions, geospatial data analysis, and systems science. She holds a doctorate in natural resources from the University of Vermont, where she was a PhD Fellow in the National Science Foundation (NSF) multidisciplinary program “Smart Grid – Technology, Human Behavior, and Policy,” a graduate fellow at UVM’s Gund Institute for Environment, and a visiting professional at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. As part of NSF’s Innovations at the Nexus of Food-Energy-Water Systems (INFEWS) initiative, her postdoctoral work with a multidisciplinary team of researchers at Michigan Technological University and Rutgers University investigated the impacts of Covid-19 on energy, water, and food consumption; tracking the carbon and water footprints of household consumption; and extending models of social practice theory, among other topics.

Dr. Ahamed also spent a decade as a researcher at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network at The Earth Institute at Columbia University, where she was one of the principal investigators for a project to digitally map soil carbon and other soil properties worldwide, focusing on Africa South of the Sahara. She has also served as academic director for SIT’s Renewable Energy, Technology and Resource Economics summer program in Iceland and visiting raculty for IHP’s Food Systems: Agriculture, Sustainability, and Justice. In collaboration with an extensive network of colleagues, her current research explores climate impacts of food-energy-water (FEW) systems and mitigation strategies, conceptualization of the FEW nexus, and just system transitions.

Courses Taught

Graduate courses
Economics for Sustainable Development

Undergraduate courses
IHP Food Systems: Getting from Field to Fork
IHP Food Systems: People, Ethics, and Food Security
Iceland: Renewable Energy Technology and Resource Economics  
Iceland: Renewable Energy Technology and Resource Economics Project

Select Publications

Caggiano H., Ahamed S., Lytle W., Schelly C., Floress K., Cuite C., Shwom R. (Forthcoming).  Green Roles at Home: Exploring the Impact of Household Social Dynamic Processes on Consumption at the Food-Energy-Water (FEW) Nexus. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

Kumar, P., Caggiano, H., Cuite, C., Andrews, C. J., Felder, F. A., Shwom, R., Floress, K., Ahamed, S., & Schelly, C. (2022). Behaving or not? Explaining energy conservation via identity, values, and awareness in U.S. suburban homes. Energy Research & Social Science, 92, 102805.

Ahamed S. (2021). The Food-Energy-Water Nexus, Embodied Injustices, And Transboundary Sustainability. Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 1332. Retrieved from:  

Ahamed S., Sperling J., Galford G.L., Stephens J.C., Arent D. (2019). The food-energy-water nexus, regional sustainability, and hydraulic fracturing: An integrated assessment of the Denver Region in the United States. Case Studies in the Environment. Retrieved from:  

Barbieri L., Ahamed S., Bliss S.. (2019). Sustainability Forum: Farming within limits. Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Interactions. 26(5) 70-73. Retrieved from: 

Galford G.L., Fernandez M., Roman J., Monasterolo I., Ahamed S., Fiske G., González P. 2018. Cuban land use and conservation: Rainforests to reefs. Bulletin of Marine Sciences. 94(2) 171-191. Retrieved from: 

Allen E., Stephens J.C., Yorgey G., Kruger C., Ahamed S., Adam J.C. 2017. Climate science information needs among northwest US natural resource decision-makers. Climate Services. 5(2017) 11-22. Retrieved from:  

Sanchez P., Ahamed S., Carré F., Hartemink A., Hempel J., Huising J., Lagacherie P., McBratney A.B., McKenzie N.J., de Lourdes Mendonça-Santos M., Minasny B., Montanarella L., Okoth P., Palm C., Sachs J., Shepherd K., Vågen T., Vanlauwe B., Walsh M., Winowiecki L., Zhang G. 2009. Digital soil map of the world. Science. 325 (5941) 680-681.  Retrieved from: 

Palm C., Sanchez P., Ahamed S., Awiti A. 2007. Soils: A contemporary perspective. Annual Review of Environment and Resources. 32 (1) 99-129. Retrieved from: 

Center for International Earth Science Information Network – CIESIN – Columbia University, International Food Policy Research Institute – IFPRI, The World Bank, and Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical – CIAT. (2011). Palisades, NY: NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center. Global Rural-Urban Mapping Project, Version 1 (GRUMPv1): Urban Extents Grid,Contributor: 

Select Presentations

Ahamed S. and Panikkar B.(2021, December 13-17). Sharpening the Conceptualization of the Food-Energy-Water-Material Nexus to Address Complex Interdependencies and Systemic Injustices. [Conference Presentation]. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, New Orleans, LA, United States 

Ahamed S. (2021, August 31-September 3). Carbon Autocracy: The Global Oil and Gas Extraction Network, State-Firm Relationships and Inter-Firm Dependencies, 2014-2018. [Conference Presentation]. Royal Geographical Society-IBG Annual International Conference 2021, London, England/Virtual

Ahamed S., Galford G.L., Panikkar B., Stephens J.C.,and Rizzo D.M. (2020, December 1-17) Tracing Food-Energy-Water-Material Interdependencies and Injustices in Transboundary Supply Chains Through Remote Sensing of Boreal Deforestation in Eeyou Istchee/Jamésie, Quebec. [Conference Presentation]. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2021, Virtual  

Barbieri L., Bliss S., Ahamed S. (2019, December 9-13). Farming within limits: An assessment of agricultural technology for sustainability, equity, and system transformation. [Conference Presentation]. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2019, San Francisco, CA, United States

Ahamed S. (2019, June 23-26). Ban, Frack, Import: Mapping embodied energy injustices related to hydraulic fracturing in the United States from interstate natural gas trade, 2005-2017. [Speed Talk]. 10th International Sustainability Transitions Conference. Ottawa, Canada

Ahamed S., Stephens J.C., Galford G., Rizzo D., and Dodds P. (2019, May 27-31). “It’s the energy, stupid:” Global fossil fuel production networks and shifting geopolitical alliances, 2000-2018. [Poster]. Network Science (NetSci) 2019. Burlington, VT, United States

Ahamed S., Massell D., Galford G. (2019, April 8-11). Does hydropower drive primary boreal forest losses in Eeyou Istchee / Eastern James Bay? [Poster]. US Regional Association of the ​International Association for Landscape Ecology 2019 Annual Meeting, Fort Collins, CO, United States

Ahamed, S.(2018: Dec 10-14). Emerging and entangled technologies: Accelerated resource extraction and improved environmental monitoring. [Lightning Talk (Invited)]. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2018, Washington DC, United States

Ahamed S., Sperling J., Galford G.L., Stephens J.C., Rizzo D.M., Minot J., Aho K. (2018, December 10-14). A network analysis of the changing global fossil fuel trade and corresponding embodied water, 2000-2016. [Poster]. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2018, Washington DC, United States

Research Interests

Just transitions
Environmental/climate justice
Interdependence among food-energy-water-material systems (FEWM nexus)
Food-energy-water nexus
Complex systems
GIS/remote sensing  


  • PhD, Natural Resources, University of Vermont
  • MSc, Planning, University of Toronto
  • BA, Anthropology, Bryn Mawr College
Sonya Ahamed, PhD

SIT Study Abroad

Program Director

IHP Climate Change: The Politics of Land, Water, and Energy Justice

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SIT Graduate Institute

Affiliated Faculty

MA in Sustainable Development Practice

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