Professor Steve Easterbrook has been re-appointed as Director of the School of the Environment

July 4, 2022 by Kiran Champatsingh

Professor Steve Easterbrook has been re-appointed as Director of the School of the Environment effective January 1, 2023 until December 31, 2027.

Professor Steve Easterbrook received his PhD in Computer Science from Imperial College, University of London in 1991. He was appointed to his first faculty position in the School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences at the University of Sussex in 1990 and received tenure there in 1993. In 1995, he was appointed Lead Scientist at NASA’s Katherine Johnson IV&V Facility in Fairmont, West Virginia, and a Research Associate Professor at West Virginia University. He joined the University of Toronto in 1999 as Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science, with promotion to the rank of Professor in 2005. In 2010, he joined the School of the Environment as a Graduate Faculty Member, and has served as Director of the School since January 2019
Professor Easterbrook’s early research focused on decision-making and coordination in large software development teams, along with techniques for ensuring software safety and reliability, and he has applied this work to a variety of software systems, including the flight software for the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. In 2007 he began an ongoing analysis of how global climate models are developed and tested, and his forthcoming book, “Computing the Climate” is a popular science account of how climate scientists build and work with these models. His current research focusses on the software infrastructure for sharing and analyzing climate data, and the ways in which this data can be used to understand climate risks and impacts, and to support civic engagement in advocating for stronger climate policies.

Professor Easterbrook is a passionate educator, and has developed and taught a number of innovative new courses related to computing and the environment, including the Big Ideas course “Social Media and Environmentalism”; and an interdisciplinary graduate course on “System Thinking for Global Problems”, which uses a variety of classroom games and hands on activities to explore the dynamics of complex systems. He has also taught courses on climate literacy, and academic leadership in computer science.
Over the course of his career, Professor Easterbrook has published 127 peer reviewed papers, and he currently holds research grants from CFI, Microsoft, Climate Change AI, ORF and NSERC totaling approximately $5.4 million. He has served on the editorial boards of Geoscientific Model Development, Requirements Engineering Journal and Journal of Automated Software Engineering. He has been actively involved in organizing numerous international conferences in the fields of Software Engineering, Sustainability, and Climate Change. Professor Easterbrook will be on leave July 1, 2022-December 31, 2022.


Professor Christian Abizaid has been appointed as Acting Director of the School of the Environment effective July 1, 2022 until December 31, 2022 during Professor Easterbrook’s leave.

Professor Christian Abizaid received his PhD in Geography from McGill University in 2007. After a three-year postdoc at McGill, Professor Abizaid joined the University as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning and the Centre for the Environment. In 2012, the School of the Environment was created. In 2017, he was awarded tenure and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor.

Professor Abizaid is a human-environmental geographer with a general interest in indigenous and peasant livelihoods in Neotropical forests. His research centres on the ways in which rural households make a living from traditional agriculture and natural resource use practices, their impact on the environment, poverty, vulnerability, and potential for adaptation to environmental change in tropical regions of Latin America, especially the Peruvian Amazon. Professor Abizaid uses a mixed-method approach that combines quantitative and qualitative methods to address relevant questions around rural livelihoods at local and regional scales. His research combines ethnographic methods with community and household surveys, and social network analysis to examine how geographical, microeconomic, relational, and structural factors shape rural settlement, resource use, and vulnerability. Professor Abizaid is one of three leaders of the Peruvian Amazon Rural Livelihoods and Poverty (PARLAP) Project, which is a large-scale study on rural poverty in the Peruvian Amazon.

Professor Abizaid has previously served as the Acting Undergraduate Associate Director of the School of the Environment (2019-20).