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Sebastian Eastham

Seb is a research scientist in the Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment, part of MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. His research career began at Cambridge, where he worked on the environmental impact of expanding Heathrow Airport as part of his undergraduate degree. Seb completed a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering at MIT in 2015, followed by a two year postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard in the Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling Group, supported jointly by the Harvard University Center for the Environment and by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate and Global Change program. He joined LAE as a research scientist in 2017.

At LAE, Seb’s work is focused on understanding and reducing the atmospheric impacts of aviation. A key part of this is the physical modeling of aircraft exhaust plumes and condensation trails, using high-fidelity local simulations in combination with global-scale numerical models of the atmosphere. His research on this topic also benefits from the application of machine learning methods to Earth observation data, such as an ongoing project to identify aircraft condensation trails – and from there quantify their climate impacts – in geostationary satellite imagery.

His work also considers the consequences that a growing aviation industry could have for the climate. One such project that Seb is leading at LAE is concerned with trade-offs which might exist between the design choices of a future supersonic civil airliner and the eventual damage that might be done to the environment.

Seb is also affiliated with MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.


  • –present
    Research Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology