Dr Ioana Colfescu

Dr Ioana Colfescu


I am a mathematician who pursued a Climate Dynamics Ph.D. and, who is currently working as a Senior Research Scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS,https://ncas.ac.uk/). I have extensive international experience and throughout my career, I worked for and, collaborated with various organizations such as the University of Leeds, University of Edinburgh, University of Oxford, University of Trento (Italy), the National Centre for Atmospheric Research (USA), George Mason University (USA) and the University of Barcelona (Spain) or the National Meteorological Administration (Romania). I am currently transitioning from using exclusively climate models and traditional data analysis methodologies to using Machine Learning techniques, for a better understanding of the effects and how to mitigate, climate change. 
For this purpose during the period covering 2021-2022, I have been working in the Department of Physics, at the University of Oxford where I used Machine Learning techniques along with climate models to improve the understanding of the key processes determining Earth’s climate (in this case El Nino Southern Oscillation). This work added to my previous research experience working on topics such as understanding the Atlantic Multidecadal Variability (AMV), anthropogenic aerosols forcing mechanistic understanding, extreme events attribution and detection, mountain waves modeling and modeling air pollution and pollutants as well as a few other smaller projects for the industry.
While the core of my work entails research I also love being part of field campaigns (I’ve been in the Arctic Ocean, Iceland, Italy, UK and I am a Certified Mission Scientist for Airborne Research facilities) and I occasionally work on industry-related projects, as well as the development of training resources. On the teaching side, I am leading and teaching modules for a couple of courses in NCAS; I very much enjoy mentoring and supervising post-graduate students as I consider it an excellent opportunity for a two ways learning process.
I recently joined the Climate Change Artificial Intelligence (CCAI, https://www.climatechange.ai where along with colleagues from academia and industry we tackle climate change with machine learning methodologies.
I very much enjoy teamwork and while the fact that I’ve been moving a lot around made it difficult to build a single stream of research as well as a solid team to work along, I have learned to make the best out of meeting new people and both regarding colleagues as well as students (I particularly enjoy working with students and younger/early career scientists). In my free time, I love camping, spending time with my dog Pip (I love spending time with her any time not only in my free time!), and taking photos (https://gurushots.com/Colfi/photos).


  • ML for Climate and Weather
  • Supervision
  • Course Module Development

Research interests

Being part of an organization such as NCAS, my research interests are very broad.
Some of my main research interests are:
  • Using traditional methodologies along  ML/AI techniques for a better mechanistic understanding long term climate variability
  •  Mechanisms of change in the North Atlantic long term (multi-decadal variability).
  • El Nino Southern Oscillation variability and change
  • Mountain waves modeling and change
  • Extreme events
  • Anthropogenic aerosols forcing


<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • Climate Dynamics PhD, Mathematics Masters, Mathematics Degree
  • Ml/AI Application Development
  • Python, Ncar Command Language(NCL), R, Fortran, Linux,GrADS

Professional memberships

  • Climate Change Artificial Intelligence
  • Royal Meteorological society

Student education

I’ve been, since 2019, teaching post-graduate ( mostly a cohort of 25 Ph.D. students) as part of two NCAS “Introduction to Atmospheric Science (offered yearly by NCAS)”, where I lead the Climate module.

Starting in 2016, I’ve been a mentor (2016,2017), and instructor (2018,2019) and, for the years 2022-2023, I’m leading the Modelling module of the NCAS Arran Measurement School on the Isle of Arran. 

My supervision duties started in 2019 and up to date, I’ve acted as the main supervisor for four Master's students, co-supervised other 4, and co-supervised one Ph.D. student ( for the University of Leeds, the University of Edinburgh, and, the University of Oxford combined).

Previously, during my PhD years I have been involved, as a Research Assistant in teaching weather and climate-related exercises and leading the lab component for summer schools for the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP, Trieste, Italy).

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>