Scientists & Staff

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Sonya Sachdeva

Research Social Scientist
1033 University Place, Suite 360
Evanston, IL, 60201
Phone: 224-999-4004

Contact Sonya Sachdeva

Current Research

Sonya Sachdeva is a computational social scientist with the US Forest Service in the greater Chicago area. Staffed with scientists from a wide range of backgrounds, "People and Their Environments" is one of only a few Forest Service research work units that studies the human component of natural resource management within urban ecosystems. Scientists in the unit conduct research on wide array of topics including the impact of climate change on conservation decision-making, understanding perceptions of air and water pollution and addressing environmental justice issues in urban environments. Sonya also has an adjunct appointment with the Environmental Policy & Culture program at Northwestern University. She holds a Bachelors in Economics from the University of Michigan and a doctoral degree in Cognitive Science from Northwestern University. Her current projects involve large-scale automated text analysis of climate change coverage in the media, field assessments of the efficacy of environmental programs and behavioral experiments to study the impact of resource scarcity on conservation behavior.


  • Northwestern University, Ph.D. Cognitive Science, 2010
  • Northwestern University, M.S. Cognitive Science, 2006
  • University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, B.S Economics & Biological Psychology, 2005

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

An elementary school within the Chicago Public School system

Tree Cover Boosts Academic Performance in Chicago Public Schools

Year: 2018

An analysis of academic achievement within Chicago Public Schools suggests that a higher proportion of tree cover, relative to grass and other vegetation, on school yards is associated with higher math and reading scores.

Understanding resident use of a new elevated pedestrian and bicycle trail

Year: 2017

Monitoring use of a new elevated trail in Chicago provides important information to city managers. Preliminary results suggest that "The 606" has created connections between historically segregated neighborhoods, meeting and exceeding city managers’ objectives.

Daily correlation between PM2.5 levels (orange circles) and Twitter Activity (blue crosses.) Sonya Sachdeva, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Using Tweets to Model Wildfire Smoke

Year: 2016

Forest Service scientists and their partners found that crowdsourced data collected from Twitter can be used to accurately predict air quality impacts from wildfire smoke.

Last modified: Tuesday, September 27, 2016