Graciela Chichilnisky

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Graciela Chichilnisky
Graciela Chichilnisky in 2016 photoshoot.jpg
NationalityArgentina / United States
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley (PhD)
Known forCarbon credit emissions trading (Kyoto Protocol)
Topological theory of social choice
Transfer paradox in international development aid
AwardsUNESCO Professorship
Scientific career
FieldsEnvironmental economics
Development economics
International economics
Welfare economics (Social choice)
Mathematical economics
Mathematics (Algebraic topology)
InstitutionsColumbia University
Doctoral advisorJerrold E. Marsden (first Ph.D.)
Gérard Debreu (second Ph.D.)
InfluencesKenneth J. Arrow
Geoffrey M. Heal
Stephen Smale
InfluencedGeoffrey M. Heal

Graciela Chichilnisky is an Argentine American mathematical economist and an authority on climate change, a professor of economics at Columbia University.[1][2] She is also co-founder and current CEO of the company Global Thermostat.[3]

Background and education[edit]

Chichilnisky was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants. After a military coup, the Argentine military violently closed scientific faculties at the University of Buenos Aires on July 29, and she left Argentina for the United States, Supported by a fellowship from the Ford Foundation,.[1] Chichilnisky matriculated in the doctoral program in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology although without an undergraduate degree;[4] she moved to the University of California, Berkeley in 1968, and completed her Ph.D. in mathematics there in 1970, under the supervision of Jerrold E. Marsden. She earned a second Ph.D. in economics in 1976 under the supervision of Gérard Debreu.[5]


After a postdoctoral position at Harvard University, she accepted a position as an associate professor at Columbia University in 1977, and received tenure there in 1979, and was named UNESCO Professor of Mathematics and Economics from 1995 to 2008. She also held a chair in economics at the University of Essex from 1980 to 1981, and has additionally been a visiting professor at other universities including at Stanford in 2017.[6][1][4]

In 2010 Chichilnisky, together with Peter Eisenberger and Edgar Bronfman Jr.. formed Global Thermostat, a company that specializes in Direct air capture from a unit that extracts carbon dioxide directly from air.


Chichilnisky is the author of over 17 books and over 330 scientific research papers. She is best known for proposing and designing the carbon credit emissions trading market underlying the Kyoto Protocol which was international law since 2005, and was a lead author on the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won the 2007 Nobel Prize.[7]

In the theory of international trade, she constructed an example of a "transfer paradox", where a transfer of goods from a donor to a recipient can render the recipient worse off and the donor better off. She constructed examples where export-led growth strategies for developing countries could result in paradoxically poor results, because of increasing returns to scale in the technologies of the developed countries.

In welfare economics and voting theory, particularly in the specialty of social choice theory, Chichilnisky introduced a continuous model of collective decisions to which she applied algebraic topology; following her initiatives, continuous social choice has developed as an international subdiscipline. During the 1980s and 1990s some of Chichilnisky's research was done in collaboration with mathematical economist Geoffrey M. Heal, who has been her colleague at Essex and Columbia.


In 1994 Chichilnisky sued two other economics professors, accusing them of stealing her ideas. Chichilnisky was countersued and dropped her lawsuit. The subject matter of the controversy was described in contemporaneous news reports as "distinctly small-time stuff, at least according to most experts." [8] In 1991 and 2000 Chichilnisky sued her employer Columbia University alleging gender discrimination, pay inequality, and attempts by the university to dissolve her endowed chair. The latter suit was settled in 2008 under undisclosed terms;[4][9][10] The New York Sun reported that Chichilnisky received $200,000. According to Columbia's spokesperson, "Chichilnisky signed a statement that her salary was not discriminatory".[11]

Selected publications[edit]

Peer-reviewed articles[edit]

Book Chapters[edit]


Awards and recognition[edit]

Dr. Graciela Chichilnisky was selected by IAIR (International Alternative Investment Review) as the 2015 CEO of the Year in Sustainability.[12]


  1. ^ a b c Curriculum vitae from Columbia University, May 2010, retrieved 2017-04-23.
  2. ^ Faculty listing, Columbia Economics Department, retrieved 2017-04-23.
  3. ^ "Global Thermostat".
  4. ^ a b c Fogg, Piper (October 17, 2003), "A Lone Woman Takes on Columbia", Chronicle of Higher Education.
  5. ^ Chichilnisky's CV
  6. ^ "Graciela Chichilnisky | SIEPR". Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  7. ^ Siegle, Lucy (14 November 2010). "Graciela Chichilnisky's innovation: carbon capturing". the Guardian. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  8. ^ Warsh, David (May 5, 1996), "A bitter battle illuminates an esoteric world", Boston Globe. Reprinted by the Chicago Tribune, May 6, 2006.
  9. ^ Chichilnisky v. Columbia University, American Association of University Women, retrieved 2011-01-17.
  10. ^ Strauss, Valerie (December 3, 2007), "Taking on the Economics of Gender Inequity", Washington Post.
  11. ^ Goldberg, Ross (July 1, 2008), "Columbia, Prof. Reach Second Gender Dispute Settlement", New York Sun.
  12. ^ "Graciela Chichilnisky Selected As 2015 CEO of the Year". Retrieved 2018-04-17.

External links[edit]