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Announcement of the 2021-2022 Jefferson Science Fellows

The 2021-2022 class of Jefferson Science Fellows (JSF) is the 18th 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 2021-2022 Jefferson Science Fellows are:



Mohan Dangi
California State University, Fresno

Mohan Bahadur Dangi is an American environmental engineer, science diplomat, and professor in the Department of Geography and City & Regional Planning at California State University (CSU), Fresno with a specialization in technical and social aspects of solid waste engineering and management. Professor Dangi is known best for applying the stratified cluster-sampling technique to understand municipal solid waste generation at the source in low-income countries. He has successfully tested a combination of engineering and social science approaches to tackle a four-decade-long, ineffective endeavor in solid waste management in Kathmandu, Nepal. His work in curriculum development and capacity-building activities has produced eight memoranda of understanding between U.S. and Nepali universities as well as two engineering curricula in his native country of Nepal. He developed a life-changing study abroad course to the third pole, Cultural Landscape and Environmental Change in the Himalayas, which brings ten U.S. students to work with ten of their Nepali peers each year. Professor Dangi, a 2021-2022 Jefferson Science Fellowship winner from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, has been awarded numerous accolades and recognition for his work. For example, he is a 2021-2022 Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Nepal from the U.S. Department of State and received the 2017-2018 Fulbright Specialist Award also from the U.S. Department of State. He was a Fulbright U.S. Scholar alternate to Nepal in 2020-2021. He was nominated for Steven K. Dentel AEESP Award for Global Outreach and, is a two-time nominee for the Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching at CSU, Fresno. His students have received Standard Bearer of the College, multiple Most Outstanding Student Awards, and Best Poster Presentation Awards at state and international research presentations. Professor Dangi earned his Ph.D. and MS in Geography and Environmental Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University, both MSc in Environmental Science and Engineering and BSc in Chemical Engineering and Petroleum Refining with a minor in Asian Studies and International Politics from Colorado School of Mines, and AS in Physical Sciences with valedictorian from Central Wyoming College. He is a professional engineer (PE) in Colorado and serves on the Editorial Board of Waste Management & Research and three other journals. Among the leadership, Professor Dangi chairs University Task Force on Climate Action, co-chairs the College International Education Committee and Global Conference on Environment & Sustainability, and is a member of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP).




Janet Ellzey
University of Texas at Austin

Janet Ellzey is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Foundation Centennial Teaching Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin and her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. Her research has spanned a broad range of topics in the field of combustion, and she currently studies low emissions burners and additive manufacturing of novel combustors. She is a member of the Academy of Distinguished Alumni of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and a Fellow of the Combustion Institute. In 2019, she was awarded the Russell Springer Professorship at the University of California at Berkeley. She has extensive academic administrative experience and served as Vice Provost for International Programs at UT-Austin from 2009-2017. In this capacity, she developed initiatives to advance the university's global presence and expanded opportunities for faculty and students to conduct research and study internationally. She is the first Director for Humanitarian Engineering at UT-Austin and has developed and led academic programs in which students use their engineering skills to address the needs of marginalized or low-income communities. As the 13th woman to receive a Mechanical Engineering degree from UT Austin, Dr. Ellzey is an advocate for the advancement of women in STEM. She founded Women in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as Women in Combustion as part of the Combustion Institute, the primary professional organization for researchers in her field.




Elizabeth Guertal
Auburn University

Beth Guertal is the Rowe Endowed Professor in the Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences Department at Auburn University, AL. Her overall research program studies the fate of fertilizer nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) in the environment, including loss pathways of leaching and volatilization. She also focuses on plant response (with an emphasis on turfgrass) to added nutrients, and how that affects plant growth, playability, and athlete safety. In addition to this work, she evaluates new and introduced fertilizer materials, including quasi-non essential elements (silicon), and new formulations such as slow-release materials, biofertilizers, and novel materials such as humic acids or bacterial inoculants. In her service, she has served as a Technical Editor for Crop Science, and as an Associate Editor for the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) Journal, Crop Science (CSSA), and Agronomy Journal (ASA). She is a past-Chair of Division C-5 (Turfgrass Management, CSSA), a Fulbright Fellow, and a Fellow of CSSA, SSSA, and ASA. She is a past President of the Crop Science Society of America (2019).




Sundaram Gunasekaran
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Sundaram Gunasekaran is a professor in the department of Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also holds affiliate appointments in the departments of food science and materials science and engineering. Gunasekaran earned his B.E. (ag) from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, India; M.Eng. from Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand; and Ph.D. from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Gunasekaran's research has focused on ensuring quality and safety of food and agricultural materials. His group is currently engaged in the synthesis and applications of nanomaterials for biosensor development. He has published extensively, including three books and holds over 12 U.S. and international patents. He has been recognized with various national and international awards and honors.




Rameshwar Kanwar
Iowa State University

Dr. Ramesh Kanwar is Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor of Water Resources Engineering at Iowa State University. His research interests and expertise are in the broader areas of water management (irrigation, drainage, water for food security, climate smart agriculture and water quality, and sustainable development). He has led several international projects either as a member of the team or as a consultant. He has worked for the World Bank, USAID, USDA-FAS, UNDP, FAO, EC, and NATO projects which have taken him to 60+ countries. His additional passion is to transform higher education and prepare students for globally competitive markets as responsible citizens. He received his Ph.D. in Water Resources and Agricultural Engineering from Iowa State University; joined Assistant Professor at Iowa State University in 1983 and was promoted to full professor in 1991. He served Director of Iowa Water Resources Research Institute from 1999-2001 and Department Head/Chair of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department at Iowa State University from 2001-2011. Also, he served as the Vice Chancellor of Lovely Professional University, Punjab, India, and Vice Rector and Provost of ADA University, Baku, Azerbaijan. He was Senior Fulbright Fellow at University Ss Cyril and Methodius, Skopje, Macedonia in 2017. He has taught irrigation, drainage, and water quality engineering courses in Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, India, Portugal, Thailand, and Uzbekistan as a visiting professor. He was awarded Doctorate Honoris Causa (D.Sc.) by Tashkent Institute of Irrigation & Agricultural Mechanization Engineers, Uzbekistan in1997, Doctorate Honoris Causa by the Georgian Agrarian University, Tbilisi, Georgia in 2000, and Doctorate Honoris Causa by the Trakia University, Bulgaria in 2007. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, India; Fellow of American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), and Fellow of Indian Society of Agricultural Engineers. He received numerous awards including John Deere Gold Medal, Kishida International Award, and ADS/Hancor Soil and Water Engineering Award from the ASABE. In addition, he received Distinguished Service Award from ADA University, Baku, Azerbaijan in 2015; Sakai Science and Technology Award from Asian Association of Agric. Engineering, Beijing, China in 2012; Distinguished Alumni Award from PAU Ludhiana in 2012; and Iowa State University recognized him by awarding International Excellence Service Award in 2004; Margaret E. White Graduate Faculty Excellence Award in 1993, and Outstanding Young Engineering Faculty Research Award in 1991. He has been a major professor for 30 M.S. and 31 Ph.D. students; received $16 million in research grants; and has published more than 600 papers including 210 refereed journal articles with an h-Index of 44.




Richard LeSar
Iowa State University

Richard LeSar is a Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Iowa State University, having been appointed as the Lynn Gleason Professor of Interdisciplinary Engineering in 2011. LeSar earned his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan and his A.M. (Physics) and Ph.D. (Chemical Physics) from Harvard University. After graduate school, he went to Los Alamos National Laboratory, first as a Postdoctoral Fellow and then as a Technical Staff Member. In addition to his research activities, while at Los Alamos LeSar held a number of administrative positions, in both program and line management. In 2006, LeSar moved to Iowa State University as the Chair of the Materials Science and Engineering Department, leaving the Chair position in 2012 and returning as Chair from December 2017 through December 2020. LeSar’s research uses computational methods to study the properties of materials. He has a long-term interest in multiscale models, with work spanning from electronic structure methods to theoretical mechanics. His current work is focused primarily on the development of multiscale simulations, focusing on a range of topics including plasticity and additive manufacturing, with an increasing focus on machine learning as applied in materials research. He has a strong focus on curriculum development, having created and taught a study-abroad program held in a small village in Mali, being the co-originator of the University-wide Minor in Sustainability, as well as one of its core classes Globalization and Sustainability, which he teaches yearly. He served on the National Academy Committee on Integrated Computational Materials Engineering and is a former member of the U.S. Air Force Science Advisory Board. He also served as an Associate Editor of the Annual Review of Materials Research and as a Principal Editor of MRS Communications. LeSar is a Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society. He is currently writing the second edition of his textbook, Introduction to Computational Materials Science, published by Cambridge University Press.