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The Earth from Space Institute (EfSI) utilizes space-based sensor technologies and data systems to understand the drivers of complex environmental and human processes that shape our world. Our diverse team of scientists, engineers, and applied practitioners provides scientific and technical leadership in satellite missions from flight projects, to research bridging physical and social science, to practical operations.
Dr. Miguel Román serves as founding director of the Earth from Space Institute (EfSI). In his leadership role at USRA, Román is tasked with strengthening the organization’s engagement with stakeholders from across private industry, academia, civil society groups, and NGOs to improve decision-making in disaster scenarios and devise effective risk management strategies.
Román currently serves as a Discipline Leader to NASA's Terra, Aqua, and Suomi NPP satellite program, helping manage a worldwide group of investigators and technical staff in charge of generating long-term data records from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS); two of the largest and most comprehensive instrument suites used to monitor our planet's vital signs.
Before joining USRA, Román served as a civil servant scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, where he pioneered the iconic Black Marble - a suite of satellite products that provide global views of Earth at night. Román, who continues to serve in the role of NASA's Black Marble team leader, has also led international activities under the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). Román is a member of the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NASEM) Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability – a high-level forum of senior officials and scientific advisers that share outlooks, information, and analyses related to harnessing science and technology for sustainability.
Dr. Román received a PhD degree in Remote Sensing from Boston University's Department of Earth & Environment, a MEng in systems engineering from Cornell University, and a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez.
Dr. Eleanor Stokes serves as a Senior Scientist and Lead of Strategic Operations of the Earth from Space Institute (EfSI). Stokes oversees a broad portfolio of fundamental natural and social science research activities at EfSI aimed at understanding the complex human and environmental processes and interactions that shape our world. She also co-leads mission concept development and scientific research activities for NASA’s Black Marble, a science team that was recently awarded the 2020 NASA Group Achievement Award for helping realize the vision of the NASA-ESA-JAXA COVID dashboard and enabling international partnership in a time of need .
Prior to joining USRA, Stokes acted as a remote sensing and urban land scientist with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, conducting research on urbanization and urban sustainability. She was awarded a NASA Jenkins fellowship, and was a pioneer user of Suomi-NPP VIIRS Day/Night Visible Band data, refining the early processing algorithms and developing novel methods to track urbanization dynamics. She received a PhD degree from Yale’s School of the Environment working at the urbanization and global change lab, a MS in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a BA from Dartmouth College.
Dr. Tomohiro Oda serves as a Senior Scientist and Lead of Global Atmospheric Surface Flux Products at the Earth from Space Institute (EfSI). Oda oversees greenhouse gas emission product development activities performed at EfSI in response to emerging needs from climate science and carbon management policy applications. He performs his research activities in collaboration with a broad range of domestic and international partners and sponsors, such as NASA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), as well as university partners.
Oda has more than 10 years of experience of producing value-added science products from data collected from a wide variety of Earth observation satellites. Oda is known for his pioneering work of a nightlight-based global high-resolution human CO2 emission model, which is now widely used in carbon cycle science. He currently serves as a science team member for NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory mission, and leads a multi-scale atmospheric CO2 modeling and data analysis project dedicated for utilization of the OCO-3 instrument on the International Space Station (ISS). Oda is also an active contributor to international activities, such as the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Integrated Global Greenhouse Gas Information System (IG3IS).
Oda received Ph.D. and Master’s degrees in Engineering from Osaka University, and a B.Sci. degree in Physics from Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan. He started his professional science career at NIES in Japan, the headquarters of the Greenhouse gas Observing SATellite (GOSAT) project. Prior to the current lead position at EfSI, he also held research positions at Colorado State University/NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Currently, Oda also serves as an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, College Park, and as a Visiting Researcher at the Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University.
Martin Ruzek’s expertise spans the Earth and Space sciences, remote sensing, spacecraft technologies, program management and business development. He has supported NASA Earth and space science missions and programs since 1983, holding positions at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA Headquarters, and NASA Ames Research Center, and is currently Solutions Architect with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA). With technical fluency in a wide range of science, technology and policy areas, and a breadth of practical business and communication skills, he works closely with USRA science and technical program directors, the university community, and corporate management to identify and evaluate institutional-scale business opportunities, develop response strategies, and craft innovative solutions with compelling proposals that meet sponsor needs. He serves as program architect, capture manager, proposal manager, contract transition manager, and technical line manager as needs require. He holds current Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.
Dr. Suraiya Farukhi currently serves as communications counsel to the Earth from Space Institute and Director of External Relations at Universities Space Research Association (USRA) where she leads communication strategies that help advance USRA’s efforts to catalyze broad impact through the implementation of effective ideas and practices. A seasoned strategist in media relations, corporate communications, brand and reputation management, digital communications and conference management, she brings decades of communications experience.
Prior to joining USRA, she held leadership positions in communications and public relations at Argonne National Laboratory where she headed the Communications and Public Affairs function for the entire lab, crafting the first strategic plan for communications, growing significant media exposure, and developing and implementing a comprehensive brand and reputation management program. She also held leadership positions in communications at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Fed Ex Ground, Westinghouse Electric Corporation and at agency and non-profit organizations where she managed PR personnel and led communications initiatives. Dr. Farukhi holds a PhD degree in English from Oklahoma State University.
Michele Hoffman currently serves as the Director of Corporate Development for USRA and leads the Earth from Space Institute’s (EfSI) fundraising and sponsorship efforts. Michele is a dedicated professional with experiences across all facets of fundraising for various local and global nonprofit organizations. Prior to joining USRA, Michele led the fundraising team at Produce Marketing Association’s Center for Growing Talent, specializing in business planning, annual and major gifts, contributor relations, sponsorships, events and programs, team building, and marketing and communications. She has previous experience in health care, serving as the Sr. Director of Advancement Services at the University of Maryland Medical System Foundation. She also has served as the Director of Annual Giving at Towson University and Associate Director of Annual Giving at Goucher College. Michele spent four years as an Assistant coach at West Virginia University and seven years as Goucher College’s Head Women’s Soccer Coach.
Michele holds a bachelor’s in physical education, teaching and coaching from West Virginia University and master’s degrees in physical education, motor development and higher education administration also from West Virginia University.
Janet Hines brings over two decades of organizational and administrative experience to USRA and the Earth from Science Institute (EfSI). Trained in early childhood education, Janet completed a Child Life Internship from Johns Hopkins Hospital with a Bachelor of Science from The University of Maryland.
Working as a Child Life Specialist at the National Institutes of Health, Janet conducted medical teaching for chronically and terminally ill children in all the Institutes and participated in published research programs on Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorders in the National Institutes of Mental Health. After a move to the Uniformed Services University, she supported a training program for Special Operators and civilian Paramedics in high-risk enforcement operations and real-time medical support to Federal law enforcement operations.
Janet brings strong writing skills and precision in detail to her role. She is accustomed to working in an ever-changing environment, focusing on positive outcomes, solving problems and organizing solutions. She is observant of the process and seeks efficiencies and methods to document the actions required for success.
Angie Espiritu brings over 30 years of Federal, Defense and international contracts and procurement expertise and serves as EfSI’s Principal Manager for Contracts and Grants.
Prior to joining USRA, Angie served in various capacities including Assistant Vice President/Deputy Business Unit Contracts Director for SAIC, and Director of Contracts and Procurement for Force 3 and The MIL Corporation. She also spent more than 20 years in various contracts and procurement management roles at the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT). As a member of the senior management team, she was responsible for the development, team-building, motivation and retention of contracts and procurement professionals. She has managed the full lifecycle of complex defense contracts and has negotiated major programs with international telecommunications and satellite service providers.
Angie has a Master of Business Administration (Procurement and Contracting), from The George Washington University, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Cum Laude) from the University of the East. She has also completed courses in Strategic Negotiations from Darden Graduate School of Business/University of Virginia and Government Contract Audits and Investigations from the Educational Services Institute.
Russ Berard is USRA’s Senior Business Manager and under this role is responsible for all of the company’s business functions related to the Earth from Space Institute (EfSI) and NASA’s Goddard Earth Sciences Technology and Research (GESTAR) program. Within GESTAR alone Russ supports approximately 150 scientists, engineers, data visualizers and media experts, including the advancement of their work through independent grant proposals and awards.
Prior to joining USRA and during the period of 2004-2018, Russ led Business Operations teams on large scale FAA & DoD programs as an employee of Lockheed Martin. This experience includes programs focused on Next-Gen Aviation software development, production and maintenance, satellite deployment and maintenance; and IR sensor development and production. Russ brings expertise in a broad spectrum of business responsibilities including Cost Control, Financial Planning & Analysis, Independent Cost Estimation, Overhead Rate development, Program Planning and Pricing.Russ holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a MBA from Salisbury University.