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Helen Greatrex

Assistant Professor
Helen Greatrex


Helen Greatrex is an Assistant Professor of remote sensing and geospatial analysis, split between the departments of Geography and Statistics. She is also a co-hire of the Institute of Computational Data Science

Greatrex received her Ph.D. in Meteorology from the University of Reading (UK) in 2012. She received a post-graduate diploma in Atmosphere and Ocean Science in 2007 from Reading and an M.Phys. in Physics with Astrophysics from the University of Manchester (UK) in 2006.

Her research interests include geo-statistics and end-user driven weather statistics within the field of weather risk and international development. Specifically her focus is on how we can better use products such as satellite rainfall to make better decisions, for example improving validation metrics, mechanistic crop/soil/health/insurance modelling and historical burn analysis. Current projects include assessing the impact of rainfall on the disease hydrocephalus, designing livelihood based weather risk metrics in Somalia and assessing the impact of flash floods. See more here

Helen joined Penn State in 2019 after working in climate adaptation consultancy and as an associate research scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (Columbia U.). She has also contributed the University of Reading's TAMSAT rainfall research group as a scientist since 2007. She works closely with the American Meteorological Society (AMS), recently chairing a Presidential Forum on the gulf between meteorologists and the humanitarian sector. Greatrex is a member of AMS, the Royal Meteorological Society and the Royal Anthropological Society.


Honors and Awards

AMS Editor's award for reviewing, for the journal Weather Climate and Society.


Selected Publications

  • Ssentongo P, Fronterre C, Geronimo A, Greybush SJ, Mbabazi PK, Muvawala J, Nahalamba SB, Omadi PO, Opar BT, Sinnar SA, Wang Y, Whalen AJ, Held L, Jewell C, Muwanguzi AJB, Greatrex, H, Norton MM, Diggle PJ, Schiff SJ. 2021. Pan-African evolution of within-and between-country COVID- 19 dynamics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(28).

  • Israelsson, J., Black, E., Neves, C., Torgbor, F. F., Greatrex, H., Tanu, M., & Lamptey, P. N. L. (2020). The spatial correlation structure of rainfall at the local scale over southern Ghana. Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, 31

  • E. Fisher, J. Hellin, H. Greatrex, N. Jensen, 2019 Index insurance and climate risk management: Addressing social equity. Development Policy Review; 00:1–20

  • R. Maidment, D.I.F.Grimes, E. Black, E. Tarnavsky, H. Greatrex, R. Allan, T. Stein, E. Nkonde, S. Senkunda, E.U. Alecantara, 2017 “A new, long-term daily satellite-based rainfall dataset for operational monitoring in Africa”, Nature Scientific Data, 4

  • H. Greatrex, J. Hansen, S. Garvin, R. Diro, S. Blakeley, M. Le Guen, K. Rao, D. Osgood, (2015), “Scaling up index insurance for smallholder farmers: Recent evidence and insights”. CCAFS Report No. 14. Copenhagen, Denmark: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) –
  • H. Greatrex, D.I.F. Grimes, and T.R. Wheeler, (2014), “Advances in the Stochastic Modelling of Satellite-Derived Rainfall Estimates Using a Sparse Calibration Dataset”. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 15, 1810–1831
  • E. Black, E. Tarnavsky, R.I. Maidment, H. Greatrex, A. Mookerjee, T. Quaife, M. Brown (2016), “The use of remotely sensed rainfall for managing drought risk: a case study of weather index insurance in Zambia”, Remote Sensing 8 (4), 342
  • Black, E., Greatrex, H., Young, M., & Maidment, R. (2016). “Incorporating Satellite Data Into Weather Index Insurance”. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 97(10)



STAT 462 - Applied Regression Analysis: Spring

GEOG 364 - Spatial Analysis: Fall