Kaighin McColl

Kaighin McColl

Assistant Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences and of Environmental Science and Engineering
Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Kaighin McColl Photo

Kaighin McColl is a hydrologist whose research is focused on the biophysical coupling of the water, energy and carbon cycles at the land-atmosphere interface. His group broadly aims to understand and predict the effects of water-limitation on evapotranspiration over land, and consequent changes to the surface energy balance, atmospheric boundary layer, and convective precipitation. This work has implications for agriculture, water resource management, weather prediction and climate modeling.

To do this, Kaighin uses models and observations. The models used span a wide range of complexity, from idealized models that can be studied with a pencil and paper, through to computationally expensive models that require a computer cluster. The group also uses satellite observations of the earth system to test model predictions, particularly observations of soil moisture and near-surface atmospheric temperature and humidity. He has worked closely with NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite mission, which measures surface soil moisture globally. 

Kaighin received his B.E. (Environmental Engineering) and B.S. (Applied Mathematics) from the University of Melbourne in 2009. He received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2017, where he was funded by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Following this, he was a Ziff Environmental Fellow at Harvard University's Center for the Environment. He joined the faculty of SEAS and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard in July 2018.