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Energy Insecurity and Energy Justice - Two sides of a Coin: Diana Hernandez, Columbia University

This lecture is part of the Yale Energy Justice Speaker Series and will be led by Diana Hernández, Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health 

Diana Hernandez, PhD is a tenured Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Hernandez conducts research at the intersection of energy, equity, housing and health. A sociologist by training, her work focuses on the social and environmental determinants of health and examines the impacts of policy and place-based interventions on the health and well-being of socioeconomically disadvantaged populations. An innovator in the field, Dr. Hernandez has operationalized and conducted foundational research on the concept of 'energy insecurity' which reflects the inability to adequately meet household energy needs. Her pathbreaking work on energy insecurity has explored the multiple dimensions of this phenomenon identifying sociodemographic disparities, adverse consequences and promising interventions toward energy justice.  

A noted visionary, Professor Hernandez' work is broadly dedicated to exploring the links between housing and health and reimagining how multiple unit housing can support public health as a site of intervention and health promotion. Much of her community-oriented research has been done in collaboration with community groups and government agencies around the country. Moreover, several of her projects have been conducted in her native South Bronx neighborhood, where she also lives and invests in social impact real estate.   

Aside from research, Dr. Hernandez serves as the Director of the Community Engagement Core for the Center for Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan and the Director of the Community Outreach and Translational Core of the Columbia Children's Center for Environmental Health. She also teaches graduate level courses on qualitative research design and analysis, public health leadership and energy justice.   

In the 2021-2022 academic year, Professor Hernandez will be a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation during which time she will write a book about energy insecurity in the United States.  

Professor Hernandez completed her doctoral training in Sociology at Cornell University (2010), her undergraduate degree at Hunter College- City University of New York (2002) and is a product of the New York City public school system.  


USA Today, “Heat or eat? America’s poor face an inhumane, impossible choice this winter.” 

NY Daily, “Heat, housing and the horrific Bronx fire.” 

Hernández, Diana (2016) “Understanding ‘energy insecurity’ and why it matters to health.” 

Jessel, Sonal et al. (2019) “Energy, Poverty, and Health in Climate Change: A Comprehensive Review of Emerging Literature.”