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Current and Past Gulf Research Program Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellows

Our Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellows join the Gulf Research Program at the National Academies in Washington, DC, for 12 weeks for an immersive experience learning about science and technology policy and the role that scientists and engineers play in advising the nation.

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Fellows - CMF - 2019 Lakhe Pritishma Lakhe is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University. Her thesis focuses on identifying and addressing process safety issues with scaling up graphene production. As part of Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center at Texas A&M, she has contributed in multiple projects assessing process safety issues for government agencies and petrochemical industries. Pritishma has also served as a President for the Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Association and as an Award Chair for the Graduate and Professional Student Council. She graduated with a BS in chemical engineering from Louisiana State University and worked in a specialty chemical company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana before starting her Ph.D. As a Mirzayan Fellow, Pritishma is excited to learn the inner workings of developing and executing policies; and how a young researcher can influence this process. During her time in D.C., she also hopes to open doors for networking and future career opportunities in policy-making.


cm-2018-khazmutdinova Karina Khazmutdinova is currently a postdoctoral associate at Florida State University, working with inverse models to better quantify the global ocean circulation and its effects on climate. She earned her Ph.D. in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics and has worked across the fields of physical and observational oceanography, climate science, and hydrology. She came to Florida State University in 2011 after completing an undergraduate degree in applied mathematics at the National University of Science and Technology in Moscow, Russia. Karina has been an active member of the environmental groups in Tallahassee, has volunteered at different educational programs and participated in several environmental campaigns. Karina wants to use her research experience to create a positive and scientifically based impact on political decisions.
cm-2018-sibley Martha Sibley is a native of South Louisiana and has worked as a research assistant and pharmacy technician throughout her college career. She graduated in 2013 and 2015 with bachelor’s degrees in ecology, environmental, and evolutionary biology and sociology from Southeastern Louisiana University. In 2017, Martha completed her master’s in applied sociology from SELU, focused in globalization and sustainability. Her research centers on climate change, coastal land loss, and the polarization of environmental knowledge and concern. In her spare time, she enjoys herping, hiking, camping, or anything involving the outdoors. Martha hopes to continue her education in a sociology doctoral program, focusing on social vulnerability to disasters and policy, in the fall.


Bernik 2017 Mirzayan fellow

Brittany Bernik earned her PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology at Tulane University. Her doctorate focused on the ecosystem consequences of genetic variation, investigating how heritable differences in a widespread grass species cascade to affect salt marsh erosion and coastal eutrophication. Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Brittany coordinated her doctoral research with the cleanup response, collaborating with other universities, private industries, and government agencies to advance understanding of marsh remediation and restoration approaches. As a result of this work, improvements to cleanup techniques were implemented into spill response operations. Prior to pursuing her PhD, Brittany received an MS degree in ecology and evolutionary biology and a BS degree in environmental biology from Tulane University. More recently, Brittany has engaged in postdoctoral research at the ByWater Institute examining plant-microbe dynamics in petroleum contaminated marshes, as well as the socioecological responses of urban vegetation in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. In moving toward a career in science, Brittany hopes to continue to be able to link theoretical research with its practical applications.
Mullenite_2017 GRP Mirzayan fellow Joshua Mullenite is currently a PhD candidate in global and sociocultural studies in the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs at Florida International University. He holds a BA in anthropology and a certificate in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Using historical and ethnographic methods, his dissertation research examines the persistence of colonial-era flood management policy along Guyana's coastal plain in order to better understand how the country's colonial history has shaped currently experienced vulnerabilities to flooding as well as the present-day design and implementation of flood management policy. Prior to conducting his dissertation research, Joshua worked as a research assistant on a project that examined how sociocultural differences between communities shape individual experiences with and vulnerabilities to the impacts of climate change in Miami-Dade County, Florida.


Hannah Leker photo Hannah Leker is a public health policy analyst at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Hannah received her MSPH in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. She also completed her BSPH at the UNC School of Public Health with a minor in chemistry. Hannah's master's thesis focused on evaluating the relationship between race and levels of access to regulated and treated community water and sewer services throughout the state of North Carolina. Hannah has also worked as a research assistant at the UNC School of Public Health, as a research support staff member for the Water Institute at UNC, and on program evaluation efforts for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Hannah is passionate about the pursuit of knowledge as well as the improvement of health and well-being.


20150226 Henkel photo Jessica Henkel is an ecosystem science specialist at the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. Jessica holds a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology from Tulane University and a MS in biology from the University of New Orleans. Her PhD thesis focused on how environmental changes and habitat degradation are impacting the coastal habitats of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and the effects these changes are having on the bird populations that migrate through them. Living in coastal Louisiana, arguably the front line of environmental issues facing our nation, Jessica has seen first-hand both the impacts that environmental and human mediated disasters, such as Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, can have on wildlife as well as on communities that rely on healthy ecosystems to make their living.

Listen to Jessica tell a story about her adventures with science during a session of Story Collider (recorded at the Marian Koshland Science Museum on April 1, 2015)!


Jocelyn Oshrin CM

Jocelyn Oshrin is an environmental project manager at ECS Mid-Atlantic. She received a master’s degree in geology from the University of Notre Dame researching the petrogenesis of Apollo 14 lunar basalt samples through textural and compositional analysis. She also holds an MSES/MPA dual degree from Indiana University, where she focused on environmental policy and natural resource management. During her undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina, she received a BS in geology and minored in Spanish. After completing graduate school, Jocelyn worked with the Nature Conservancy to restore sensitive habitats on preserves throughout southern Indiana and with Cardno JFNew on wetland, stream and prairie restoration projects. When she has free time, Jocelyn volunteers with the local Humane Society and enjoys exploring new cities with friends and taking in the local food, music and sporting events.

Jocelyn's advice to future fellows: "[T]ake advantage of all of the introductions the fellowship provides. Talk to everyone because everyone has valuable advice (or at least something interesting to say). Conducting informational interviews with organizations that interest you is invaluable, and having a connection to the [National] Academies really helps get meetings with people in high places."