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Announcement of the 2019-2020 Jefferson Science Fellows

The 2019-2020 class of Jefferson Science Fellows (JSF) is the 15th 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 2019-2020 Jefferson Science Fellows are:



K.C. Das
University of Georgia

K.C. Das is Georgia Athletic Association Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering at the University of Georgia, Athens GA. He completed his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at Anna University in Chennai, India; and earned a PhD in Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering from the Ohio State University, Columbus OH in 1995. He has since been working at the University of Georgia first in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Science, and since 2012 in the College of Engineering. His research expertise is in organic waste management, conversion of waste to value added products including biofuels, and in improving the sustainability of agricultural and food systems. He teaches courses in engineering unit operations both in physical processing and environmental engineering, systems thinking and systems engineering, and entrepreneurship and technology transfer. He has conducted collaborative, applied research projects in India, Colombia, and Mexico. He is listed in Clarivate Analytics’ 2018 list of world-class researchers selected for their exceptional research performance, demonstrated by production of multiple highly cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations in Web of Science in the cross-disciplinary field. He is a life member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, and a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Georgia.




Donald A. Friend
Minnesota State University

Don Friend is Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Geography at Minnesota State University. His research and teaching interests focus on physical geography, especially earth surface and atmospheric processes, and their interaction and human impacts in mountains. His PhD is in Geography from Arizona State University. He earned the MA in Geography at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and he earned the BS from the University of California at Berkeley in Conservation of Natural Resources. As a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Germany, he served as Guest Professor at Universität Erlangen. He has held several other invited appointments including: University of Applied Sciences, Karlsruhe, Germany; Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He has held summer lectureships with Wildlands Research in the Wrangell Mountains of Alaska and with The Mountain Institute in West Virginia. He has years of “boots on the ground” experience in mountain and river environments in arid and temperate regions, in the tropics and in the sub-arctic. He has worked, hiked and climbed throughout North America, Western Europe, Central and East Africa, and South Korea. He served as US Representative to the International Geographical Union Commission on Mountain Response to Global Change, and is past Chair and Founder of the Mountain Geography Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers. He serves as Editorial Advisor to the Journal of Mountain Science published by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He has written over 50 papers and reports, and edited two books, including a text entitled Mountain Geography. He instructed eight seasons for the Colorado Outward Bound School.


 Gonzalez Vallejo


Claudia González Vallejo
Ohio University

Claudia González Vallejo is Professor of Psychology at Ohio University. She obtained a Master of International Affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, and a PhD in cognitive and quantitative psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. González Vallejo’s expertise is in decision analysis, statistics, and the psychology of judgment and decision-making. She has prior experience in international affairs working for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and public policy working for the Center for Policy Research at the Rockefeller College, SUNY at Albany. Dr. González Vallejo joined the Psychology Department at Ohio University in 1996. Her current research focuses on judgment accuracy, decision difficulty, and the psychology of choices. She is on the editorial board of several prestigious journals including Decision, Decision Analysis, Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, Journal of Mathematical Psychology, and Statistics reviewer for the Journal of Nutrition Behavior and Education. She has also served at the National Institutes of Health as a permanent member of the Cognition and Perception scientific review panel.




Royce Hutson
Boise State University

Royce Hutson is Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Boise State University. Professor Hutson’s research focuses on measuring the health and mental health impacts of natural disaster and armed conflict using advanced population-based survey methodologies. In his work, he assisted in developing some of the initial technology that utilized satellite/aerial geocoded photographs to sample households in difficult environments. Additional work led to improvements in sample weights to more accurately represent the population using these sampling methods. Professor Hutson has conducted multiple surveys in South Lebanon, the Syrian-Lebanon border, the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, and in greater Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Additionally, his work has also looked at how social exclusion and experiences with violence are related to violent extremism during times of prolonged crisis. This research has been funded by a variety of governmental, non-governmental, and multilateral organizations. Professor Hutson was a Visiting Professor of Social Work at Lebanese American University in Beirut, Lebanon in 2007-08 and was a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution at Lebanese American University in 2016. He has a BS in psychology from Loyola University Chicago, a MSW from the University of Georgia, and a PhD in social welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was a graduate research fellow at the Institute for Research on Poverty.




John P. Kerekes
Rochester Institute of Technology

John P. Kerekes is a Professor of Imaging Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a past Director of RIT’s Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Laboratory. He earned his BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University. Prior to joining RIT in 2004, he spent 15 years as a member of the Technical Staff at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory. His doctoral dissertation “Modeling, Simulation, and Analysis of Optical Remote Sensing Systems” defined the direction of his career and has been the focus of his research ever since. With funding from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the U.S. Air Force, as well as many other government agencies and industrial organizations, he has developed modeling tools and performed analyses to explore the capabilities of new airborne and satellite remote sensing instruments to acquire data for various applications. His work has involved systems for object detection, vegetation monitoring, ice sheet elevation measurement, land cover classification, and atmospheric sounding. This research has resulted in over 175 publications. Dr. Kerekes has been an active volunteer with the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society, including two terms on the Administrative Committee. In 2017, he received the GRSS Outstanding Service Award. In his current role as the GRSS Chief Financial Officer he is helping to guide efforts to promote environmental remote sensing activity and education around the world.




Mary Ann McDowell
University of Notre Dame

Mary Ann McDowell is an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and faculty of the Eck Institute for Global Health at the University of Notre Dame. She obtained a BS and MS from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying Parasite Ecology and received her PhD degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Medical Microbiology and Immunology. Dr. McDowell completed two post-doctoral fellowships, one at UW-Madison investigating the cell biology of African Trypanosomes and one at the National Institutes of Health working on the immunobiology of Leishmania infections. Dr. McDowell’s current research focuses on the biology of infectious diseases, with a focus on vector-borne pathogens. The conceptual framework of her research program integrates multiple layers of the disease process including immunology, host cell-biology, pathogen diversity, insect vector biology, and drug and insecticide discovery, using both laboratory models and field-based studies. Dr. McDowell is the Principal Investigator of VectorBase, the web-accessible Bioinformatics Resource Center that is the repository for the genomes of vectors of human disease and provides spatio-temporal visualizations of vector abundance data to the scientific community.




Michael J. O'Shea
Kansas State University

Michael (Mick) O'Shea is a Professor of Physics, associate department head, and director of the graduate physics program at Kansas State University. His research focused primarily on the material science of rare-earth based materials, especially the relationship between their structure and magnetic properties when in nanostructured form, and he has published over 70 papers in peer-reviewed journals with his Ph.D. and M.S. students. He has served as an editor for the proceeding of the Magnetism and Magnetic Materials conference published in Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials and in IEEE Transactions on Magnetism. More recently, he has published work on the physics of outdoor sports including climbing, skiing, backpacking, and whitewater rafting. He teaches in all areas of physics at the undergraduate and graduate level and has received the Kansas State Stamey Teaching award. He also works seasonally during summer for Colorado Outward Bound as an instructor and course director on wilderness courses in Colorado and Utah. He completed his undergraduate degree in physics from the University of East Anglia and his Ph.D. from Sussex University in the United Kingdom. He did a postdoc at the University of Nebraska before moving to Kansas State University in 1983.




Paul Vincelli
University of Kentucky

Paul Vincelli is an Extension Professor in plant pathology at the University of Kentucky (UK), where he has been on the faculty since 1990. Vincelli’s extension and research interests include practical disease management for numerous crops, climate change, and diverse topics related to sustainable food systems. He teaches graduate courses related to plant disease management and genetically engineered crops. Vincelli earned his bachelors and master’s degrees in botany and plant pathology, respectively, from Rutgers University. He received his doctoral degree in plant pathology from Cornell University. Prior to completing his bachelor’s degree, Vincelli served as a botanist in the U.S. Peace Corps, serving in Nicaragua for one year and Colombia for two years. He is the recipient of numerous awards including a Fulbright Specialist in Agriculture Award to Uruguay in 2013 and Fulbright Scholar awards to Uruguay in 2005 and Nicaragua in 2014. He has served as a visiting scholar and guest lecturer on five continents. At UK, Vincelli was named a Provost’s Distinguished Service Professor in 2007 and received both the Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching and the UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award in 2011.