Leadership Team

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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.

Eleanor Stokes
Manager - Sr. Scientist and Lead of Strategic Operations
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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.

Kellie was recently recognized by the Geospatial World 50 Rising Stars as a ‘Rising Star. https://newsroom.usra.edu/usras-eleanor-stokes-named-a-rising-star-by-the-geospatial-world-50-rising-stars/

Contact: estokes@usra.edu

Helen-Nicole Kostis
Manager - Sr. Multimedia Specialist, Visualizer
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Helen-Nicole (Eleni) Kostis is a Senior Science Visualizer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Based at NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS), Eleni serves Earth Science missions and programs by developing data-driven animations to communicate complex findings to the scientific communities and the public. These data-driven media are freely and openly accessible from the  Scientific Visualization Studio and take a life of their own upon release, as they support agency-wide press releases and are also used by educators, news media, museums, and TV/streaming networks. Eleni is the recipient of NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Award for Outreach, has been active in the broader visualization community and is a co-author of the Foundations of Data Visualization (Springer). She holds a degree in Mathematics from the University of Ioannina (Greece), a Master’s in Computer Science and a Master’s in Fine Arts in Electronic Visualization from the University of Illinois at Chicago. During her graduate years at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL), Eleni found herself immersed in a creative playground that nurtured research, fostered collaboration, and spearheaded experimentations in art, science, and technology. Under the mentorship of Daniel Sandin, Eleni researched and developed tele-immersive experiences and artworks in state-of-the-art Virtual Reality (VR) systems that were exhibited internationally at international conferences, festivals, and museums. Eleni has been an active volunteer at ACM SIGGRAPH since 2006, is a founding board member of CapXLab – an education non-profit in DC – and is a girl scout troop leader.

Tomohiro Oda
Sr. Scientist and Lead of Global Atmospheric Surface Flux Products
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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.

Contact: toda@usra.edu

Martin Ruzek
Program Development
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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.

Contact: mruzek@usra.edu

Suraiya Farukhi
Communications Counsel
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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.

Contact: sfarukhi@usra.edu

Janet Hines
Administrative Support
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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.

Contact: jhines@usra.edu

Julie Pelletier
Principal Manager for Contracts & Grants
Julie Pelletier, Principal Contracts & Grants Manager

Julie has served as the Principal Contracts & Grants Manager at SOFIA for the last three years. In this role, she has worked closely with the NASA customer to convince them of the importance of implementing a change management process where none previously existed. As a result, an average of $2M in change proposals each year by implementing effective change management was recognized.  Julie has also restructured/organized/streamlined the SOFIA grant issuance process and greatly improved invoicing turnaround and backlog.  She has facilitated improvements in cross-functional communications and collaboration among key program individuals.   Additional focus areas include the preparation of Statements of Work, Rough Order of Magnitude submittals, and binding strategic proposals for SOFIA and other USRA programs.   She has also served as a key contributor to the NASA Balloon Operation Contract proposal effort and the NEON proposal.  Julie led efforts to build the USRA online CDRL repository which was commended by the customer in the SOFIA award fee assessment; “Julie strives to bring continuous improvements and consistency and key messaging for all deliverables”. Julie is the recipient of the 2020 Manager Award for “providing a comfortable space that allows stepping outside the boundaries to discuss constraints and ideas” and for “being considered an influencer by the customer and the SOFIA leadership team.”  Julie joins the EfSI team in Spring 2022.