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.

Tomohiro Oda
Sr. Scientist and Lead of Global Climate and Environment
 Tomohiro Headshot.jpg

Dr. Tomohiro Oda serves as a Senior Scientist and Lead of Global Climate and Environment at Universities Space Research Association’s Earth from Space Institute (EfSI). Oda oversees greenhouse gas (GHG) emission information development at EfSI in response to ongoing, emerging climate and environmental challenges and needs for science-based guidance -- for  policy applications.

Prior to his current Lead position at EFSI, he held research positions at NEIS, Colorado State University, NOAA Earth Systems Research Lab and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

His work involves collaborations 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 many university partners.

At USRA, Oda also oversees USRA’s activities as an observer NGO for the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). He leads the USRA delegation to UN Conference of Parties (COP) climate meetings and facilitates conversations among various actors and stakeholders in different sectors. 

Oda has more than 10 years of experience of producing value-added science products using data collected from a wide variety of Earth observation satellites. He is known for his pioneering work of a nightlight-based global high-resolution human CO2 emission model, which has been widely used in carbon cycle science. With his strong expertise on GHG emission modeling, Oda takes a leading role in NASA’s carbon modeling system developments, including NASA’s new initiative Earth Information System (EIS). Oda is 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) as well as the Global Greenhouse  Gas Watch (G3W).

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.  Currently, Oda 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.

Oda was selected and served as a committee member for the US National Academy’s consensus study on GHG information evaluation framework published in 2022.  In 2023, he was appointed as a co-chair for the Global Environmental Measurement and Monitoring (GEMM) initiative.

Contact: [email protected]

Helen-Nicole Kostis
Manager - Sr. Multimedia Specialist, Visualizer

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.

Martin Ruzek
Program Development

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: [email protected]

Suraiya Farukhi
Communications Counsel

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: [email protected]

Srija Chakraborty
Associate Scientist
photo of Dr. Srija Chakraborty

Dr. Srija Chakraborty is an Associate Scientist at USRA’s Earth from Space Institute (EfSI), and specializes in applied machine learning for analyzing remote sensing observations. At EfSI, she focuses on tailoring these capabilities for remotely sensed Earth Observation data, especially for NASA’s Black Marble Product Suite. She has also served on the NASA Science Mission Directorate Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning working group for Earth Science since 2020 and has been a technical co-lead in IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society's Image Analysis and Data Fusion working group.

Prior to joining EfSI, USRA, she was a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow at Goddard Space Flight Center with the Black Marble Science Team and developed machine learning approaches for nighttime remote sensing.

She received a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from Arizona State University in 2019, studying machine learning and statistical signal processing algorithms for analyzing remotely sensed Earth and Planetary observations. Her research interests lie at the intersection of machine learning and remote sensing, with an emphasis on unsupervised learning, time-series analysis, forecasting, anomaly detection, explainable machine learning, onboard data analysis methodologies and broadly aims to improve various stages of the remote sensing data analysis pipeline using machine learning.