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.

Miguel Román
Program Director
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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 leads a worldwide group of investigators and technical staff in charge of generating long-term climate data records from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS); two of the largest and most comprehensive satellite systems used to monitor our Planet's vital signs. He is best known for pioneering NASA's Black Marble product suite for Suomi-NPP and NOAA-20, enabling operational and innovative uses of the VIIRS Day/Night Band to understand global urban change, better plan for disaster relief, investigate conflict, and understand humanity's impact on the Planet. He also served on the White House National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Disaster Risk Reduction, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and has provided guidance to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on disaster risk reduction strategies.

Among his volunteer activities, Román serves as Chairman of NASA's Land-Atmosphere Near-real time Capability of EOS (LANCE) User Working Group (UWG). In this role, he represents the broad needs of NASA's application user communities and provides guidance concerning a full range of topics related to the LANCE data system, capabilities, and services. He is also a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and serves on the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability.

Román is a 2014 Service to America Medal "Sammies" finalist, one of the highest honors for federal civil servants. He was nominated for a Sammie in the 'Call to Service' category for his leadership role as part of NASA's Terra, Aqua, and Suomi NPP satellite program. In 2016, Román was recognized by President Barack Obama with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for delivering innovative, sustainable, earth science research and technology solutions for the general welfare of the United States and its global partners.

Dr. Román has over 50 peer-reviewed scholarly publications and editorials. His writings have been featured in numerous news outlets, including NPR, The Washington Post, NBC, The Economist, Univision, Smithsonian Magazine, and BBC World News.

Eleanor Stokes
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

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

Helen-Nicole Kostis
Senior 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: mruzek@usra.edu

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: sfarukhi@usra.edu

Janet Hines
Administrative Support

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

Angelita (Angie) Espiritu
Principal Manager for Contracts & Grants

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.

Contact: aespiritu@usra.edu