Climate Change & Health
Interim Director, Climate Change & Health Initiative
Aaron (Ari) Bernstein is a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Bernstein focuses on the health impacts of the climate crisis on children’s health and healthcare, and on advancing solutions to address its causes to improve the health and well-being of children around the world.
At Harvard, he serves as the Assistant Faculty Lead to the Harvard Global Health Institute’s Climate and Health Initiative and the co-Director of the Center for Climate Health and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
In 2015, he was awarded a Lokey-Businesswire visiting professorship at Stanford University and has also been a visiting professor at Columbia University. Dr. Bernstein has been a member of the Harvard President’s Climate Change Task Force and co-Chairs the University Food Standards Committee.
He serves on the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health Executive Committee, the Board of Scientific Counselors to the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and is Chair of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Green Building Council.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in Human Biology from Stanford University, he received graduate degrees in medicine (MD) and public health (MPH), from the University of Chicago and Harvard University, respectively. He is a recipient of Stanford University’s Firestone Medal for Research and a Harvard University Zuckerman Fellowship.
An avid bicyclist, Dr. Bernstein pedals to and from work year-round.
Dr. Salas is Affiliated Faculty and previous Burke Fellow at the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) and a Yerby Fellow at the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is also a practicing emergency medicine physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. She is also Affiliated Faculty at the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Her Doctor of Medicine is from the innovative five-year medical school program to train physician-investigators at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine with a Master of Science in Clinical Research from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Her Master of Public Health is from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health with a concentration in environmental health.
Dr. Renee N. Salas has served as the lead author of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change U.S. Brief since 2018 and founded its Working Group of over 70 U.S. organizations, institutions, and centers working at the nexus of climate change and health. She was a Co-Director for the first Climate Crisis and Clinical Practice Symposium – in partnership with The New England Journal of Medicine – and spearheads the broader Initiative. Dr. Salas was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in 2021 for her work on climate change and health. She served on the original planning committee for the NAM’s Grand Challenge on Health and Climate Change and continues to serve on planning committees. She has testified before Congress for the full House Committee on Oversight and Reform on how climate change is harming health. She engages in research on how climate change is impacting the healthcare system and developing evidence-based adaptation. She lectures and serves on committees at the nexus of climate and health nationally and internationally, advises and publishes in high impact journals, and her work and expertise are regularly featured in mainstream media outlets like the New York Times, NPR, USA Today, and the Associated Press.
Assistant Director of Programs
Carissa Novak is the Assistant Director of Programs, overseeing all programmatic work at HGHI. Prior to joining HGHI, she worked at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment with an ecology and infectious disease research team, where she spent time living and working in Madagascar.
She also worked at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill managing a large-scale sexual assault research network, which included leading the first ever prospective study of sexual assault trauma in adult women in the US. She lived and worked in Kenya and Uganda while studying barriers to reproductive healthcare, specifically in seeking treatment for HPV and cervical cancer. She received her Master of Science in Global Health from Duke University’s Global Health Institute, and her BA in International Relations from Auburn University.
Senior Program Coordinator
Luke Testa leads several programmatic initiatives at HGHI focused on global vaccine equity, health misinformation, and organizational development. Luke is also the lead coordinator of HGHI’s communications portfolio.
Between 2013 and 2017, Luke co-founded and managed the nonprofit Project PLAY NH which sought to increase youth access to organized sports in Manchester, NH. More recently, Luke served as the Director of Program for HOBY NH and was committed to several positions at the Sununu Youth Services Center (SYSC). At SYSC, he researched, developed, and managed programs that aimed to lower the youth recidivism rate.