Sonya Ahamed, PhD


An avid proponent of experiential learning, Dr. Ahamed brings 17 years of international experience in environmental data analysis, energy research, and complex systems to her role at SIT Study Abroad. She holds a doctorate in natural resources from the University of Vermont, where she was a PhD Fellow in the National Science Foundation’s multidisciplinary program “Smart Grid – Technology, Human Behavior and Policy” and a visiting professional at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Her doctoral research examined hydraulic fracturing in the Denver Region, hydropower in Eeyou Istchee/Northern Quebec, and analyzed the global fossil fuel production network. Sonya 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 properties worldwide, focusing on Africa South of the Sahara. She has taught courses, mentored students, facilitated, and lectured in energy systems transitions, race and culture in natural resources, the food-energy-water nexus, offshore wind, and deforestation linked to big hydro, among other topics. Sonya is currently investigating the impacts of COVID-19 on energy, water, and food consumption at Michigan Technological University. She has a lifelong fascination with the concept of energy in its multiple and varied manifestations and prizes the opportunity to think about the implications of energy systems together with students in real-world settings.

Courses Taught

Graduate courses
Economics for Sustainable Development

Undergraduate courses
Renewable Energy Technology and Resource Economics  
Renewable Energy Technology and Resource Economics Project

Select Publications

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: 

Center for International Earth Science Information Network-CIESIN-Columbia University, United Nations Food and Agriculture Programme, and Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical. (2005). Palisades, NY: NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center. Global Rural-Urban Mapping Project, Version 1 (GRUMPv1) Gridded population of the world, version 3 (GPWv3). Palisades. Contributor: 

Select Presentations

Ahamed S. (2022, May 8-11). Resource, Infrastructure, and Flows of Food, Energy, Water, and Materials: Conceptualizing the FEWM Nexus to Address System Interdependence and Systemic Injustice in the Arctic. [Conference Presentation]. Arctic Frontiers Science, Tromsø, Norway. 

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, USA. 

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

Energy transitions
Environmental/climate justice
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

Academic Director

ICELAND: Renewable Energy, Technology, and Resource Economics (Summer 1)

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SIT Graduate Institute

Affiliated Faculty

MA in Sustainable Development Practice

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