Colfescu, Dr Ioana

Principal Research Fellow in Climate and Machine Learning


University of St Andrews

School of Mathematics and Statistics

University of St Andrews

Mathematical Institute

North Haugh

St Andrews

KY16 9SS


I joined NCAS as a volunteer, in 2016, for the 2016 Arran Measurments Summer School. I have been in NCAS ever since and, I am currently a Principal Research Fellow in the Department of Mathematics (jointly with the School of Earth and Environment) at St Andrews University (starting June 2024). In St Andrews I am leading the joint NCAS-St Andrews group which plans to address fundamental climate science using mathematics and AI methodologies. I am also the NCAS Programme Lead for the new (as of 2024) Digital Atmosphere NCAS programme. For an updated list of my publications and activities please see my LinkedIn (

I have a PhD in Climate Dynamics (George Mason University, USA) and a background and Msc in Mathematics (University of Bucharest, Romania). The main focus of my research is on improving our understanding of the key processes determining Earth’s climate and climate variability on  timescales ranging from seasonal, to multidecadal. Some of the main topics of research I am interested in are the ML based predictions, role of weather noise on Atlantic Multidecadal Variability (AMV), extreme weather mechanisms and mountain wave dynamics.

In particular, I am interested in using a hierarchy of models for separating the role of anthropogenic emissions and natural climate variability and interactions between ocean and atmosphere.

My work in NCAS entails not only research but, also being part of field campaigns, working on industry related projects and, development of training. I am also part of Climate Change Artificial Intelligence (CCAI) an organization composed of volunteers from top world organizations from Academia and Industry around the world.

Last, I am coordinating and developing course modules on climate change, I teach, mentor, and supervise post-graduate students, and develop teaching material (for post-graduate training courses).

In my work as a scientist there are three main aspects I very much enjoy: learning new things and the ‘detective work’ aspect of being a scientist; second, during the Academic year 2021-2022 I co-supervised one Msc student for the University of Edinburgh and I recently started supervising as the main supervisor Msc students (5 students for the 2022-2023 Academic year) -working with students became one of the aspects I love best about my work. Last, I love having the opportunity to meet and learn along and from other scientists who are passionate about what they do.

Picture of Dr Ioana  Colfescu