Sam Heft-Neal

Senior Research Scholar

Center on Food Security & the Environment +

Environmental Change & Human Outcomes Lab

Stanford University


I am a Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Food Security and the Environment (FSE) and the Environmental Change and Human Outcomes (ECHO) Lab at Stanford University. My work seeks to improve understanding of social and environmental drivers of health around the world. Recent projects have examined health impacts from a variety of environmental stressors including temperature, tropical cyclones, dust, and wildfire smoke with a focus on how behavioral responses moderate impacts. I have a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics and a B.A. in Statistics and Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.



Pascal Geldsetzer, Daniel Fridljand, Mathew Kiang, Eran Bendavid, Sam Heft-Neal, Marshall Burke, Alexander Thieme, & Tarik Benmarhnia. 2024. ``Sociodemographic and geographic variation in mortality attributable to air pollution in the United States''. Nature Medicine.

Patrick Behrer & Sam Heft-Neal. 2024. ``Higher air pollution in wealthy districts of most low- and middle-income countries''. Nature Sustainability, 7.
[paper] [replication materials]

Renzhi Jing, Sam Heft-Neal, Daniel Chavas, Max Griswold, Zetianyu Wang, Aaron Clark-Ginsberg, Debarati Guha-Sapir, Eran Bendavid, & Zachary Wagner. 2023. ``Global Population Profile of Tropical Cyclone Exposure from 2002 to 2019''. Nature, 624.
[paper] [replication materials]

Marshall Burke, Marissa L. Childs, Brandon de la Cuesta, Minghao Qiu, Jessica Li, Carlos F. Gould, Sam Heft-Neal & Michael Wara. 2023. ``The contribution of wildfire to PM2.5 trends in the USA''. Nature, 622 (7984).
[paper] [replication materials] [download paper figures]
[media coverage: (NYT)(Washington Post)(NPR)(CBS News)]

Jeff Wen, Sam Heft-Neal, Patrick Baylis, Judson Boomhower, & Marshall Burke. 2023. ``Quantifying fire-specific smoke exposure and health impacts''. PNAS, 120 (51).
[paper] [replication materials]

Sam Heft-Neal, Carlos Gould, Marissa Childs, Mathew Kiang, Kari Nadeau, Mark Duggan, Eran Bendavid, & Marshall Burke. 2023. ``Emergency department visits respond non-linearly to wildfire smoke''. PNAS, 120 (39).
[paper] [analysis code][download paper figures]
[media coverage: (Washington Post)]

Hemant Pullabhotla, Mustafa Zahid, Sam Heft-Neal, Vaibhav Rathi & Marshall Burke. 2023. ``Global Biomass Fires and Infant Mortality''. PNAS, 120 (23).
[paper] [replication materials][comment] [reply]

Carlos Gould, Sam Heft-Neal, Mary Prunicki, Juan Antonio Aguilera-Mendoza, Marshall Burke, & Kari Nadeau. 2023. ``Health effects of wildfires''. Annual Review of Medicine, 75.

Sam Heft-Neal, Anne Driscoll, Wei Yang, Gary Shaw & Marshall Burke. 2022. “Associations between wildfire smoke exposure during pregnancy and risk of preterm birth in California”. Environmental Research, 203.
[paper] [analysis code] [download paper figures]
[media coverage: (Nature)(NYT)(KALW Radio)(Seattle Times)(SF Chronicle)(The Guardian)(The Hill)]

Marissa Childs, Jessica Li, Jeff Wen, Sam Heft-Neal, Anne Driscoll, Sherrie Wang, Carlos Gould, Minghao Qiu, Jen Burney & Marshall Burke. ``Daily local-level estimates of ambient wildfire smoke PM2.5 for the contiguous US''. 2022. Environmental Science & Technology.
[paper] [download smoke PM2.5 data] [replication materials] [download paper figures]
[media coverage: (NYT)(The Guardian)(CBS)(ABC)(KQED)(RFF Podcast)]

Jennifer Burney, Geeta Persad, Jonathan Proctor, Eran Bendavid, Marshall Burke & Sam Heft-Neal. ``Geographically-resolved social cost of anthropogenic emissions accounting for both direct and climate-mediated effects''. 2022. Science Advances. [paper] [replication materials]

Marshall Burke, Sam Heft-Neal, Jessica Li, Anne Driscoll, Patrick Baylis, Matthieu Stigler, Joakim Weill, Jen Burney, Jeff Wen, Marissa Childs & Carlos Gould. 2022. ``Exposures and behavioral responses to wildfire smoke''. Nature Human Behavior.
[paper][comment] [replication materials] [download paper figures][5 min project overview talk][cover photo]
[media coverage: (SF Chronicle) (NBC Bay Area) (NBC Today in the Bay) (CBS) (The Guardian) (KCBS Radio)]

Jonas Miller, Emily Dennis, Sam Heft-Neal, Booil Jo, and Ian Gotlib. 2021. ``Fine Particulate Air Pollution, Early Life Stress, and their Interactive Effects on Adolescent Structural Brain Development: A Longitudinal Tensor-Based Morphometry Study''. Cerebral Cortex, 346.

Marshall Burke, Anne Driscoll, Sam Heft-Neal, Jenny Xue, Jennifer Burney, and Michael Wara. 2021. “The changing risk and burden of wildfire in the US”. PNAS, 118 (2).
[paper] [replication materials] [download paper figures]
[media coverage: (The Economist Daily Chart) (SF Chronicle) (CBS) (LA Times) (AP) (NYT) (Bloomberg) (KCRW) (KQED)]

Eran Bendavid, Ties Boerma, Nadia Akseer, Ana Langer, Espoir Bwenge Malembaka, Emelda A. Okiro, Paul Wise, Sam Heft-Neal, Robert E. Black & Zulfiqar A. Bhutta. 2021. ``The effects of armed conflict on the health of women and children''. The Lancet, 397 (10273).

Sam Heft-Neal, Jen Burney, Eran Bendavid, Kara Voss & Marshall Burke. 2020. ``Dust pollution from the Sahara and African infant mortality''. Nature Sustainability, 3 (10).
[paper] [replication materials] [independent replication] [download paper figures] [video][cover photo]
[media coverage: (VoxDev Podcast)(Nat Geo)(BBC Newsday Interview)(Discover Magazine)]

Nathan Lo, Ribhav Gupta, David Addiss, Eran Bendavid, Sam Heft-Neal, Alexei Mikhailov, Antonio Montresor & Pamela Sabina Mbabazi. 2020. ``Comparison of World Health Organization and Demographic and Health Survey data to estimate sub-national deworming coverage in pre-school children''. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 14 (8).

Zachary Wagner, Sam Heft-Neal, Paul Wise, Robert Black, Marshall Burke, Ties Boerma, Zulfiqar Bhutta & Eran Bendavid. 2019. ``Women and children living in areas of armed conflict in Africa: a geospatial analysis of mortality and orphanhood'' . The Lancet Global Health, 7 (12).
[paper] [comment]

Nathan Lo, Sam Heft-Neal, Jean Coulibaly, Leslie Leonard, Eran Bendavid, & David Addiss. 2019. ``State of deworming coverage and equity in low-income and middle-income countries using household health surveys: a spatiotemporal cross-sectional study'' . The Lancet Global Health, 7 (11).

Corey Bradshaw, Sarah Otto, Alicia Annamalay, Sam Heft-Neal, Zach Wagner, & Peter Le Souef. 2019. ``Testing the socio-economic and environmental determinants of better child health outcomes in Africa: a cross-sectional study among nations''. BMJ Open, 9(9).

Sam Heft-Neal, Jennifer Burney, Eran Bendavid & Marshall Burke. 2018. ``Robust relationship between air quality and infant mortality in Africa''. Nature, 559 (7713).
[paper] [replication materials][download paper figures] [video] [2019 CRF Top 10 Research Achievement Award ]
[media coverage: (Nature Podcast Interview) (ABC) (CBS) (The Independent) ]

Zachary Wagner, Sam Heft-Neal, Zulfiqar Bhutta, Robert Black, Marshall Burke, & Eran Bendavid. 2018. ``Armed conflict and child mortality in Africa: a geospatial analysis''. The Lancet, 392 (10150).
[paper] [comment 1] [comment 2] [comment 2 reply ]
[media coverage: (NPR) (U.S. News) (Reuters) (Xinhua) ]

Marshall Burke, Felipe Gonzalez, Patrick Baylis, Sam Heft-Neal, Ceren Baysan, Sanjay Basu & Sol Hsiang. 2018. ``Effect of ambient temperature on suicide in the US and Mexico''. Nature Climate Change, 8 (1).
[paper] [comment] [comment reply] [replication materials][download paper figures] [data visualization]
[media coverage: (The Atlantic) (Bloomberg) (CNN) (FT) (Fortune) (Reuters) (Scientific America) (SF Chronicle) (Time) (USA Today) (WEF) ]

Nathan Lo, Jedidiah Snyder, David Addiss, Sam Heft-Neal, Jason Andrews & Eran Bendavid. 2018. ``Deworming in pre-school age children: A global empirical analysis of health outcomes''. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 12 (5).

Sam Heft-Neal, Marshall Burke & David Lobell. 2017. ``Using remotely sensed surface temperature to estimate climate response functions''. Environmental Research Letters, 12 (1).
[paper][blog post]

Marshall Burke, Sam Heft-Neal & Eran Bendavid. 2016. ``Understanding variation in child mortality across Sub-Saharan Africa: A spatial analysis''. The Lancet Global Health, 4 (12).
[paper][comment] [replication materials][download paper figures][download infant mortality data]

Papers Submitted, Under Revision, or Under Review

``Game, sweat, match: temperature and elite worker productivity'' (with David Lobell, Marshall Burke, Vincent Tanutama & Miyuki Hino) [under revision] [working paper]

``Identifying child growth effects of elevated pollution levels during pregnancy'' (with Martin Heger, Vaibhav Rathi & Marshall Burke) [under revision]

``Wildfire-specific PM2.5 is associated with mental health and pregnancy-related outcomes during the 2020 California fires '' (with Youn Soo Jung, Kari Nadeau, Mary Prunicki, Mark Cullen, Lorene Nelson, Melissa Bondy, Marshall Burke) [under review]

``Antenatal wildfire smoke exposure and risk of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy'' (with Anne Waldrop, Yair Blumenfeld, Jonathan Mayo, Danielle Panelli, Marshall Burke, Stephanie Leonard & Gary Shaw) [under review]

``Temperature extremes impact mortality and morbidity differently'' (with Carlos Gould, Alex Heaney, Mathew Kiang, Chris Callahan, Eran Bendavid, and Marshall Burke) [under review] [working paper]

``Wildfire smoke exposure and mortality burden in the US under future climate change'' (with Minghao Qiu, Jessica Li, Carlos F. Gould, Renzhi Jing, Makoto Kelp, Marissa L. Childs, Jeff Wen, Yuanyu Xie, Meiyun Lin, Mathew V. Kiang, Noah S. Diffenbaugh, Marshall Burke) [under review] [working paper] [media coverage: (NPR)]

``Tropical Cyclones Increase Education Inequity in Low- and Middle-income Countries'' (with Renzhi Jing, Zetianyu Wang, Jie Chen, Minghao Qiu, Isaac Opper, Zachary Wagner, and Eran Bendavid) [submitted]

``Wildfire smoke exposure and health impacts uncertainty: comparing chemical transport models with machine learning approach'' (with Minghao Qiu, Makoto Kelp, Xiaomeng Jin, Carlos F. Gould, Daniel Tong, and Marshall Burke) [submitted]

``Exposure to Long-Term Ambient Air Pollution and Cardiac Imaging Findings: A Systematic Review and Semi-Quantitative Synthesis'' (with Andrew Chang, Annabel Tan, Francois Haddad, Marshall Burke, Koen Nieman, Amanda Woodward, Lily Ren, Theodore Abraham, and Michelle Odden) [submitted]

``Impact of Tropical Cyclone Exposure on Child Mortality in Low and Middle Income Countries'' (with Zetianyu Wang, Renzhi Jing, Aaron Clark-Ginsberg, Debarati Guha-Sapir, Eran Bendavid, and Zachary Wagner) [submitted]

Papers in Preparation

``Are we adapting to climate change?'' (with Marshall Burke, Mustafa Zahid, Mariana Martins, Chris Callahan, Richard Lee, Jay Amgalan, Mathew Kiang, and David Lobell)

``The chemical composition of wildfire smoke exposure in the United States'' (with Emma Krasovich Southworth, Carlos Gould, Minghao Qiu, Kara Voss, Jen Burney, Marshall Burke, Ayako Kawano, Jeff Wen, and Jenny Hand)

``Spatial and temporal patterns of wildfire evacuations in California'' (with Lela Hanson, Atsada Israpanich, Talia Buckhouse, Jena Alsop, Julian Berkowitz, Katie Rueff, Prathmesh Sonawane, Julia Zeitlin and Evan Zhu)

“Characterizing the Impact of the 2019 Kincade Wildfire on Sonoma County Adult Cardiopulmonary Emergency Department Utilization” (with Andrew Chang, Marshall Burke, Mathew Kiang, Francois Haddad, Eli Schulman, Annabel Tan, Kari Nadeau, and Michelle Odden)

Other Writing + Talking

Policy Briefs

Wildfire Smoke: Behavior Matters, But How to Best Influence It? (Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment Policy Brief with Marshall Burke, 8/2022) [Link]

Managing the growing cost of wildfire (SIEPR Policy Brief with Marshall Burke & Michael Wara, 10/2020) [Link]
[replication materials] [download figures] [download figure data] [media coverage: (The Economist Daily Chart)(ABC7) ]


There are no safe levels of pollution (The Guardian/The New Lede Q&A with Pam Strayer, 8/7/2022) [Link]

Extreme heat’s impacts on laborers (Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment Q&A with Michele Barry & Michelle Tigchelaar, 7/20/2022) [Link]

Blog Posts

A Surprising truth: Wealthy areas in low- and middle-income countries face higher ambient air pollution levels (World Bank post with Patrick Behrer, 2/7/24) [Link]

Wildfire Management is Air Quality Management (FSE post with Anne Driscoll and Marshall Burke, 3/4/21) [Link]
[media coverage: (SF Chronicle on wildfires, air quality, and outdoor theatre)]

Calculations of indirect mortality from wildfires (G-FEED post with Marshall Burke, 9/11/20) [Link]
[media coverage: (810AM Radio Interview)(NBC Bay Area)(SF Chronicle 1)(SF Chronicle 2)(SJ Mercury)(Nat Geo) ]

Measuring temperature from space (G-FEED post, 1/27/17) [Link]

Recorded Talks

Managing the changing risk and health burden of wildfire smoke in the U.S. (UT Austin CHEER Seminar Series, 4/18/24) [Link]

Health impacts of pollution that infiltrations indoors (Spectrum PHS Pilots Grants Seminar , 8/24/22) [Link]

Constructing a historical database of wildfire evacuation orders in California (Stanford Wildland Fire Seminar Series, 2/2/22) [Link]


Other Platforms

Google Scholar
Stanford Profile


ECHO Lab [Link]
Woods Institute [Link]
Wildfire Research at Stanford [Link]


364 Y2E2. 473 Via Ortega. Stanford University.


sheftneal at stanford dot edu