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Under Dr. Román’s leadership, the Earth from Space Institute (EfSI) brings together an interdisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, and applied practitioners. The EfSI team utilizes space-based technologies and data systems to develop and deliver highly relevant information products that benefit a variety of stakeholders.

Dr. Miguel Román
Founding Director
Portrait Photo of Miguel Román

Dr. Miguel O. 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. Before joining USRA,Dr. Román served for ten years as a civil servant scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, where he pioneered the iconic Black Marble - a series of satellite products that provide global views of Earth at night, with an emphasis on monitoring refugee displacement in conflict zones and communities affected by chronic and compound disasters. President Barack Obama named him a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for 2017, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on researchers beginning their independent careers. The press has also widely recognized his work – including major news outlets like The Washington PostNBCThe EconomistSmithsonian Magazine, and BBC World News. As the Land Discipline Team Leader to NASA’s flagship Earth Observing System (EOS) missions (EOS-Terra, EOS-Aqua, and Suomi-NPP), Román - co-leads a team of 22 competitively-selected investigators 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 ever launched to systematically monitor our planet's vital signs. Dr. Román’s contributions to inter-agency and inter-governmental initiatives and the wealth of satellite measurements available from his work are providing EfSI stakeholders with fundamental datasets and strengthening the capacity required to understand disaster risks while promoting sustainable and resilient urban infrastructure. Dr. Roman holds a Ph.D. in Geography from Boston University.

Contact: mroman@usra.edu

Martin Ruzek
Program Development & Solutions Architect
Portrait Photo of Martin Ruzek

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

Dr. Suraiya Farukhi
Communications Counsel
Portrait Photo of Suraiya Farukhi

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 Ph.D. in English from Oklahoma State University.

Contact: sfarukhi@usra.edu

Dr. Wayman Baker
NOAA (Retired) and USRA Consultant
Portrait Photo of Wayman Baker

Dr. Wayman Baker’s experience spans over 40 years in environmental sciences.  He has held  a variety of positions at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and the NOAA/National Weather Service. Dr. Baker retired in 2009 and subsequently has provided consulting services for several companies in the environmental sciences. He received several awards during his 30 years of Federal service and was elected Fellow of the American Meteorological Society in 1990. Dr. Baker led the preparation of the science volume for USRA GESTAR proposal which was selected by NASA in 2011. Since 1985, Dr. Baker has pursued the development of a space-based wind lidar and chaired the NASA/NOAA Working Group on Space-Based Lidar Winds from 1994 to 2009. In 2014 Dr. Baker and co-authors published a review article on recent advances in wind lidar technology and the expected scientific benefits.   Dr. Baker holds a Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of Missouri.

Angelita (Angie) Espiritu
Principal Manager for Contracts & Grants
Portrait Photo of Angelita Espiritu

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

Russell Berard
Sr. Business Manager
Portrait Photo of Russ Berard

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.

Contact: rberard@usra.edu