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Announcement of the 2018-2019 Jefferson Science Fellows

The 2018-2019 class of Jefferson Science Fellows (JSF) is the 14th class of Fellows selected since the program was established in 2003 as an initiative of the Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State. The Jefferson Science Fellows Program is designed to further build capacity for science, technology, and engineering expertise within the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The 2018-2019 Jefferson Science Fellows are:



Weslynne Ashton
Illinois Institute of Technology

Weslynne Ashton is Associate Professor of Environmental Management and Sustainability at the Illinois Institute of Technology Stuart School of Business. Dr. Ashton’s research focuses on industrial ecology, optimizing water, energy and material resource flows in socio-ecological systems, and developing entrepreneurial solutions to social and environmental challenges in low income and developing regions. She also examines the adoption of socially and environmentally responsible strategies in small businesses. In 2012-2015, she led a US Department of State grant “Pathways to Cleaner Production in the Americas”, which integrated research, education and implementation of sustainability practices in small and medium enterprises across eight countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Dr. Ashton previously led Yale University’s “Industrial Ecology in Developing Countries” program and held visiting faculty appointments at TERI University in India and the National University of Singapore. She has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and master’s and doctoral degrees in Environmental Science from Yale University.




Peter Hirst
Purdue University

Peter Hirst is professor of horticulture at Purdue University, where he has served on the faculty since 1997. He received a BHortSci degree from Massey University in New Zealand and a PhD degree from The Ohio State University. His research has focused on the physiology, genetics and management of fruit trees, in particular apple. In recent years, his research has concentrated on understanding and manipulating flowering initiation which is a necessary precursor to reliable cropping, and on fruit development. Other areas of emphasis include the application of robotics and sensing technologies to fruit orchards, and the development of predictive computer simulation models of growth and fruiting for educational and research applications. In his position as state extension specialist, Professor Hirst translates research data into strategies able to be implemented by growers. He is a guest professor at the Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University in China, and a Fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science. He has served on the board of a number of national scientific and industry organizations. Dr. Hirst has also been involved in addressing capacity building and food security in both Africa and Asia. Research results and recommendations have been presented to scientists and farmers in many countries including Armenia, Australia, Canada, China, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, New Zealand, Tajikistan, and Zambia.




June J. Pilcher
Clemson University

June J. Pilcher is an Alumni Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Clemson University. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Southern Mississippi (1984) and earned her Ph.D. in Biopsychology from the University of Chicago (1989). She was enlisted in the US Navy as a hospital corpsman prior to completing her B.A. and served as an officer as a research psychologist in the US Army after receiving her Ph.D. She started her academic career at Bradley University before joining the faculty at Clemson University in 2001. While recently serving as Faculty Fellow for Global Learning at Clemson, she co-founded the Global Learning Institute and chaired the Global Learning Task Force that produced the Global Competency Outcomes for Clemson. Dr. Pilcher has been named a Fellow in the Association for Psychological Science, the premier society of psychological scientists. She has also earned a variety of awards at Clemson University including being named the 2015 recipient of the Class of ’39 Award for faculty excellence. She was the Fulbright-Freud Visiting Scholar 2011-2012 at the University of Vienna and the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna, Austria and a Fulbright Specialist in Global Health in 2017 at the University of Oulu and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Oulu, Finland. Dr. Pilcher’s research is broadly based on the effects of stress on performance, health, and well-being. Her research incorporates many occupational health topics including sleep and sleep loss, physical activity and sedentary behavior, and thermal stress. She has taught a wide range of classes focused on brain and behavior, health, and human nature and has given over 200 invited talks locally, nationally, and internationally.




Stephen E. Silliman
Gonzaga University

Stephen E. Silliman has served as Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Gonzaga University since 2012. He completed his BSE in Civil Engineering at Princeton University and his Masters and Ph.D. in Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona. He was on the faculty of the University of Notre Dame from 1986-2012, rising through the ranks in the Department of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences through Professor. He also served as Associate Dean in the College of Engineering from 2002-2008. His primary research interests relate to the study of groundwater flow, groundwater/surface water interaction, and the movement of chemicals in groundwater systems. He is also deeply interested in studies of engineering education. Through funding from multiple sources including the US National Science Foundation and the US Department of Energy, he has completed a number of studies involving laboratory, numerical, and field studies of hydrologic processes in a variety of geologic settings. These studies, as well as his interest in engineering education, have led to more than 80 publications. The intersection of his interests in hydrogeology and innovation in the educational experiences of his students led to the development of research and service-learning activities in multiple countries, including 20 years of collaboration with colleagues at the Université d’Abomey-Calavi in Benin, West Africa. Projects in Benin have included country-wide assessment of groundwater quality, development of village-level water quality monitoring strategies, village-level WASH initiatives, and studies of hydrologic processes in the coastal/lake region bounding Cotonou, Benin.




Peter Smallwood
University of Richmond

Peter Smallwood is an associate professor of Biology at the University of Richmond, where he has taught since 1997. He is also coordinator of its Environmental Studies Program. Peter earned a BS in Zoology from Ohio State University, MS in Biology from University of North Carolina, and Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona. His dissertation and early scholarship was based in behavioral ecology, resulting in publications on the behaviors of squirrels, spiders, and falcons. In 2003-2004, he was selected as an AAAS Congressional Science Fellow. This marks a shift in focus to conservation biology, science engagement and science diplomacy, resulting in publications in Biological Conservation and Arms Control Today. In 2004-2005, he served as the first executive director of the State Department's program in Iraq for Nonproliferation of WMD Expertise. Based in Baghdad, he worked with Iraqi biologists, chemists, physicists and engineers, helping them transition out of weapons-related work. In 2006, he helped stand up the Wildlife Conservation Society's project in Afghanistan. While focused on biodiversity conservation, the project is integrated with efforts to develop economic opportunities, good governance, and civil society in Afghanistan. He returned to Kabul in 2008 to serve as director of the project (January 2008 to July 2009). During his tenure, he led successful efforts to help Afghanistan come into compliance with several international conservation treaties, establish its first officially recognized National Park, and its first Protected Species list. More recently, he has served as a consultant to Senate committees and executive branch agencies, and assisted AAAS in its science engagement programs for countries in the Broader Middle East/North African region.