Sabrina McCormick, PhD, is a sociologist and filmmaker who investigates how to motivate climate mitigation and adaptation. Her recent research funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigates how and why six U.S.cities act on climate change. These findings inform how cities across the country can more quickly mitigate climate and can speed the development of resilience through co-benefits. Dr. McCormick is the Primary Investigator on a National Science Foundation study on climate change litigation. This research assesses how and why such lawsuits are launched, have changed over time and are decided with the ultimate goal of identifying characteristics of cases that may lead to success or failure.
McCormick has long worked in the Brazilian Amazon and currently has a research project (funded by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research) whose goal is to understand how the political economy of renewable energy development in that region is affecting sustainability for the rainforest and local populations. Her work in this area also includes the development of her first feature narrative film, currently entitled TRIBE.
Dr. McCormick was Lead Author on the Special Assessment of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change entitled Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. As a Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, McCormick began a long-term research program in climate change and health. She has been a Co-PI on a study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the management of heat in four American cities. She also conducts an in-depth qualitative assessment of heat-related mortality in the n the City of New York in order to improve measurement. McCormick has studied the emergence of West Nile Virus, Valley Fever, and, more recently, Zika in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Dr. McCormick works as a writer/director/producer of both documentary and narrative films to put a human face on research. Her first, award-winning documentary film, No Family History, accompanied the publication of her first book by the same title, and followed the journey of one woman with breast cancer living in a cancer hotspot, struggling to find out what could have caused her illness. She was Producer and Associate Producer on segments of the Showtime series, The Years of Living Dangerously, that won the Emmy for Best Documentary Series in 2014. McCormick co-directed After the Cap (with Ben Kalina; Shored Up), the only interactive documentary about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, capturing unseen footage with oil spill workers and coastal fishermen. Her narrative shorts, A Good Egg and FracKtured, have been seen at festivals across the country.
McCormick was a Science & Technology Policy Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science working in the Global Change Research Program at the Environmental Protection Agency from 2009 to 2011, during which time she advised Congress, the State Department, and the White House on climate change issues. Dr. McCormick’s work has been featured in NBC Nightly News, TIME Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, and many other media outlets. She is currently Associate Professor in the Environmental and Occupational Health Department in the School of Public Health and Health Services at George Washington University, and Senior Fellow at the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania.