Patricia J. Culligan


626 S.W. Mudd
Mail Code 4706

Tel(212) 854-3154
Fax(212) 854-6267

Patricia J. Culligan explores novel, interdisciplinary solutions to the challenges of urbanization, with a particular emphasis on the City of New York.  Her research investigates the opportunities for green infrastructure, social networks, and advanced measurement and sensing technologies to improve urban water, energy, and environmental management. She is co-Director of a $12 million research network sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop new models for urban infrastructure to make cities cleaner, healthier, and more enjoyable places to live.  Culligan also has expertise in geo-environmental engineering and nuclear waste management and has been actively engaged in research focused on the safe containment of hazardous wastes as well as the identification and remediation of contaminated groundwater. She is the founding associate director of Columbia University’s Data Science Center and a faculty member of the Earth Institute.

Research Interests

Urban Sustainability, water-resource management, building energy conversion.

Of particular interest to Culligan is the development and use of novel experimental techniques, field observations and modeling approached to advance discovery. She is engaged in a multi-year, field-monitoring program of urban green roofs, which aims to understand the role of green infrastructure in urban stormwater management and climate resilience. She is also engaged in a study to monitor energy consumption in multi-family residential buildings in order to understand what type of feedback on consumption motivates building residents to conserve energy. She has developed multiple new experimental techniques to improve understanding of the fundamental mechanisms governing water and contaminant flows in soils and aquifer systems. She has also developed a multi-scale model for colloidal transport in porous media that explains pathogen transport in groundwater systems. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of Culligan’s works, she collaborates with a wide variety of other researchers, including those with expertise in urban design, policy, micro-biology, ecology and geochemistry, among many others.

Culligan received a BSc (Hons) in civil engineering from the University of Leeds, England in 1982, and an M.Phil and PhD in Engineering from the University of Cambridge, England in 1985 and 1989, respectively. She also received a Diplome de Langue, Litterature et Civilization (avec Mention) from the Université d’Aix-Marseille III in 1993. Culligan has served on the National Academies Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board as well as on the Board of Governors of the ASCE’s Geo-Institute. She has also Chaired the National Academies standing committee on Geological and Geotechnical Engineering.


  • Honorary Visiting Research Fellow, City University, London, England, 1993 - 1994
  • University Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, 1989-1992


  • Robert A.W. and Christine S. Carlton Professor of Civil Engineering, 2016 -
  • Founding Associate Director, Columbia University Data Science Institute, 2012-
  • Co-Director, Columbia University Urban Design Lab, 2012-
  • Vice-Dean for Academic Affairs, Columbia Engineering, 2010–2012
  • Faculty Member, Columbia University Earth Institute, 2009 -
  • Professor of civil engineering and engineering mechanics, Columbia University, 2005-
  • Associate professor of civil engineering and engineering mechanics, Columbia University, 2003-2005
  • Associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, M.I.T, 1998–2003
  • Assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, M.I.T, 1994–1998


  • American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Geo-Institute of ASCE


  • Columbia University’s Great Teacher Award, 2015
  • Columbia University Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching, 2007
  • Columbia Engineering School Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award, 2006


  • Carson, T. B., M. Keeley, D. Marasco, W. R. McGillis, P. Culligan, Assessing methods for predicting green roof rainfall capture: A comparison between full-scale observations and four hydrologic models, Urban Water Journal, 14 (6), 589-603, 2017
  • Farnham, D.J., R. A Gibson, D. Y. Hsueh, W. R. McGillis, P. J. Culligan, N. Zain, R. Buchanan, Citizen science based water quality monitoring: Constructing a large database to characterize the impacts of of combined sewer overflow in New York City, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 580, 168–177, 2017
  • Elliott, R.M., R. A. Gibson, T. B. Carson, D. E. Marasco, P. J. Culligan, W.R. McGillis,  Green Roof Seasonal Variation: Hydrologic Behavior of Thick and Thin Extensive Systems in New York City, Environmental Research Letters, 11(7), 074020, 2016.
  • Hakimdavar, R., P. J. Culligan, A. Guido, W.R. McGillis, The Soil Water Apportioning Method (SWAM): An approach for long-term, low-cost monitoring of green roof hydrologic performance, Ecological Engineering, 93, 2017-220, 2016.
  • Ramaswami, A. A. G. Russell, P. J. Culligan, K. R. Sharma, E. Kumar, Meta-principles for developing smart, sustainable, and healthy cities, Science, Vol 352, Issue 6288, pp 940-943, 2016.
  • Whittinghill, L.J., D, Hsueh, P. Culligan, R. Plunz, Stormwater performance of a full scale rooftop farm: Runoff water quality, Ecological Engineering, 91, 195-206, 2016.
  • Liu, P.C., B. J. Mailloux, A. Wagner, J. Magyar, P.J. Culligan, Can varying velocity conditions be one possible explanation for difference between laboratory and field observations of bacterial transport in porous media? Advances in Water Resources, 88, 97-108, 2016.
  •    Plunz, R. and Culligan, P., “Group-form and urban infrastructure resilience: New York City as an example”, in Cities in the 21st Century, Routledge, 192-204, 2016.
  • D. E. Marasco, P. J. Culligan, W. R. McGillis, Evaluation of common evapotranspiration models based on measurements from two extensive green roofs in New York City, Ecological Engineering, 84, 451-462, 2015
  • Xu X., P. J Culligan, J. E Taylor, Energy Saving Alignment Strategy: Achieving energy efficiency in urban buildings by matching occupant temperature preferences with a building’s indoor thermal environment, Applied Energy, Vol 123, pp 209-219, 2014.