Benjamin Lee Preston

Photo of Benjamin Preston
Director, Community Health and Environmental Policy Program; Senior Policy Researcher; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in environmental biology, Georgia Institute of Technology; B.S. in biology, College of William & Mary

Media Resources

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Benjamin Preston (he/his) is a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation and director of Community Health and Environmental Policy, a program of RAND Social and Economic Well-Being. He is also a professor at Pardee RAND Graduate School. He is temporarily on leave from RAND to serve as the assistant director for Climate Services and Adaptation in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under the terms of the Intergovernmental Personnel Act Mobility Program.

Preston's recent research efforts include understanding the role of knowledge in climate risk management, analysis of disaster recovery options and their implementation in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, scenario analysis for a low-carbon future, and the implications of COVID-19 for the delivery of infrastructure services. Previously, he held research positions with the Climate Change Science Institute at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the CSIRO's Division of Marine and Atmospheric Research, and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. 

In 2015, he received the American Geophysical Union’s Falkenberg Award, and from 2016 to 2017 he was one of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s inaugural Leshner Leadership Fellows. Preston has contributed to national and international scientific assessments including the U.S. National Climate Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth and Sixth Assessment Reports, the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s second State of the Carbon Cycle Report, and the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program’s Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic. He currently serves as co-editor-in-chief for the Elsevier journal Climate Risk Management.

Preston received a B.S. in biology from the College of William & Mary and a Ph.D. in environmental biology from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Selected Publications

Sujithkumar Surendran Nair, Anthony W. King, Jay Gulledge, Benjamin Lee Preston, Ryan McManamay, Christopher Clark, "Economic Losses from Extreme Weather in the U.S. Gulf Coast Region," Environmental Research Letters, 2020 (forthcoming)

Zeke Baker, Julia A. Ekstrom, Kelsey D. Meagher, Benjamin Lee Preston, Louise Bedsworth, "The Social Structure of Climate Change Research and Practitioner Engagement: Evidence from California," Global Environmental Change, 63(July), 2020

E.C.H. Keskitalo and B.L. Preston, Research Handbook on Climate Change Adaptation Policy, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2019

NA Cradock-Henry, B Frame, BL Preston, A Reisinger, DS Rothman, "Dynamic adaptive pathways in downscaled climate change scenarios," Climatic Change, 150(3-4), 2018

SM Absar, AM Boulay, MF Campa, BL Preston, A Taylor, "The tradeoff between water and carbon footprints of Barnett Shale gas," Journal of Cleaner Production, 197, 2018

KM Ernst, ÅG Swartling, K André, BL Preston, RJT Klein, "Identifying climate service production constraints to adaptation decision-making in Sweden," Environmental Science & Policy, 93, 2019

Alex de Sherbinin, Anamaria Bukvic, Guillaume Rohat, Melanie Gall, Brent McCusker, Benjamin Lee Preston, Alex Apotsos, Carolyn Fish, Stefan Kienberger, Park Muhonda, Olga Wilhelmi, Denis Macharia, William Shubert, Richard Sliuzas, Brian Tomaszewski, Saina, "Climate Vulnerability Mapping: A Systematic Review and Future Prospects," WIREs Climate Change, 2019

Robert J. Lempert, Benjamin Lee Preston, Jae Edmonds, Leon Clarke, Tom Wild, Matthew Binsted, Elliot Diringer, Brad Townsend, Pathways to 2050: Alternative Scenarios for Decarbonizing the U.S. Economy, C2ES (-EP-67867), 2019

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Climate One; David Nazar News; DesignSafe Radio, NHERI; KNX-AM; KPCC-FM Online; National Academies; PBS Online; Talk Media News; U.N. Climate Change Conference; WHYY News


  • Solar and wind farm with sunset and clouds, photo by yangphoto/Getty Images

    Achieving Decarbonization and Energy Equity Through Reconciliation

    The past two years have witnessed increasingly vocal calls for rapid decarbonization of the global economy through a clean energy transition. How can Congress ensure that new costs associated with a clean energy transition do not fall disproportionately on lower-income ratepayers?

    Sep 9, 2021 United Press International

  • Two industrial chimneys release heavy smoke into the blue sky, photo by kapichka/Adobe Stock

    Mapping Environmental Racism: Q&A with Jaime Madrigano and Benjamin Preston

    Environmental policy experts Jaime Madrigano and Benjamin Preston are leading an effort to highlight how discriminatory policies have shaped environmental health disparities. Their goal: create an interactive map of the United States to motivate environmental policy that advances antiracism.

    Sep 7, 2021

  • Crane trucks in the construction of a bridge, photo by Juan Enrique del Barrio/Adobe Stock

    New Thinking to Translate Infrastructure Dollars into Resilience

    Infrastructure investments the United States makes today to recover from the pandemic can help boost resilience for the future. We will need to think beyond what we've done in the past to ensure that these investments can continue to protect the nation from shifting threats in the future.

    Jun 2, 2021 The RAND Blog

  • Senior Policy Researcher Benjamin Preston, photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

    The Science of Climate Policy: Q&A with Benjamin Preston

    Benjamin Preston, a senior policy researcher and director of RAND's Community Health and Environmental Policy Program, specializes in climate risk and adaptation, disaster recovery, and resilience. In this Q&A, he discusses common misperceptions about climate change and how to decarbonize the U.S. economy.

    Oct 22, 2019

  • A boy on a bicycle cools off from the extreme heat from an opened fire hydrant in Brooklyn, New York, July 2, 2018

    Triaging Climate Change

    There are many opportunities to manage climate risk around the world, but not everything can be saved. Delaying triage of climate damages could leave societies making ad hoc decisions instead of focusing on protecting the things they value most.

    Jan 23, 2019 The Conversation

  • Communities are seen surrounded by water and wetlands in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, August 25, 2015

    Environmental Impact Bonds May Not Bear Fruit for Green Investors

    Investors may be willing to accept a lower return for socially responsible investments. But environmental impact bonds may not be the best way to leverage these investment possibilities.

    Nov 26, 2017 Zilient

  • Floating ice and iceberg in Antarctic Peninsula

    When It Comes to Climate, Look for Vulnerabilities in Policy, Not Science

    Federal policymakers have picked up on the concept of red teaming — actively seeking out one's own vulnerabilities. While red teaming may not make sense for climate science, it does offer great benefits when weighing climate policy options.

    Aug 4, 2017 The Hill

  • The Eiffel Tower is seen in front of the Sacre Coeur Basilica on Montmartre in Paris, France, during the 2015 World Climate Change Conference

    The Big Bet: Withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement

    America's formal withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement could have far-reaching consequences for U.S. global leadership on many issues, not just on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Jun 2, 2017 Inside Sources