Sabrina McCormick, PhD, is a sociologist and filmmaker whose research investigates the social dynamics of addressing climate change, and produces media based on this research. Her current work includes how climate change lawsuits are won and lost, the health effects of climate change, why cities can fail in their address of climate, and how diverse audiences respond to climate-related stories.
Most recently, Dr. McCormick has published a series of articles about climate change lawsuits in the United States, published in Science, Nature Climate Change, and the American Journal of Public Health. This research reveals who is brining suits, why they are winning and losing, and the strategies being used in the suits. She was also awarded a Rockefeller Foundation Academic Writing Residency at Bellagio to transform her work on international lawsuits into a television series.
McCormick has long worked in the Brazilian Amazon and published her first book on a case study there. Her recent research project (funded by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research) aims 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's 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 is a member of the Climate Communication Initiative Advisory Committee for the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. She 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 Obama White House on climate change issues. Dr. McCormick’s work has been featured in NBC Nightly News, National Public Radio, 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, Senior Fellow at the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and Visiting Scholar at the Columbia University Law School Sabin Center on Climate Change Law.