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Announcement of the 2022-2023 Jefferson Science Fellows

The 2022-2023 class of Jefferson Science Fellows (JSF) is the 19th 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 awardees selected for the 2022-2023 class of Jefferson Science Fellows are:



Joel Adams
Calvin University

Joel Adams is Professor of Computer Science at Calvin University, where he served as department chair for more than a decade and led the creation of Calvin's undergraduate Data Science program. He earned B.S. degrees in Computer Science and Psychology from Geneva College, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh, in the area of distributed systems. He has taught a wide range of courses and has written numerous research papers as well as several well-received textbooks. His areas of expertise include software development, computer networks and operating systems, and parallel and distributed computing. His research has been supported by a series of National Science Foundation grants and he has been the primary architect of six high performance Beowulf clusters. His most recent projects have explored how visualization and sonification can offer new insights into the behaviors of sequential and parallel algorithms. He is a two-time Fulbright Scholar (Mauritius, 1998-99; Iceland, 2005) and is a Distinguished Member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).




Bernard Arulanandam
University of Texas San Antonio

Bernard Arulanandam is the Vice President for Research, Economic Development, and Knowledge Enterprise (REDKE) at the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA). He received his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology at the Medical College of Ohio and his M.B.A. at the University of Texas San Antonio. He directs the research enterprise at UTSA and fostered the creation of UTSA’s National Security Collaboration Center (NSCC). He has led a concerted effort to establish the DOE Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CyManII) to achieve energy efficient and cyber secured ecosystems for U.S. manufacturers. He currently serves as the Scientific Director of the Vaccine Development Center of San Antonio. He also serves as the Councilor for the Oak Ridge Association of Universities, a member of the Board of Directors for Biomed SA and represents UTSA and the UT System Office of Federal Relations National Security Advisory Group (NSAG). He was named a fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2015 and received the Fulbright International Education Administrator Award in 2016. He was elected fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) in 2017 and most recently, he was inducted as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) in 2019. He is an established Immunologist and directs a research program that is focused on elucidating host-microbial interactions and the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the induction of immune responses against infectious diseases. Work from his laboratory has provided new insights into the development of vaccines against Chlamydia trachomatis, the leading cause of sexually transmitted bacterial disease and the creation of a potential live attenuated vaccine against multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii identified as an important nosocomial pathogen. He has successfully mentored many students and post-doctoral fellows. His interdisciplinary research accomplishments are demonstrated by his funding from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security, and his extensive list of research publications and issued patents.




David Budescu
Fordham University

David V. Budescu is the inaugural Anne Anastasi Professor of Psychometrics and Quantitative Psychology at Fordham University. He has a PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and he held tenured positions at the University of Illinois and the University of Haifa, and visiting positions at Carnegie Mellon University, University of Gotheborg (Sweden), the Kellogg School at Northwestern University, the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), INSEAD Business School, and the Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin. His research is in the areas of human judgment, individual and group decision making under uncertainty and with incomplete and vague information, probabilistic forecasting, optimal information aggregation, as well as measurement, methodology, and statistics for the behavioral and social sciences. His work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF), the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), and other agencies. He is the Editor of Decision and past Associate Editor of Decision Analysis and Psychological Methods. He is past president of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making (SJDM) (2000-2001), fellow of the Association for Psychological Sciences (APS), of the Psychonomic Society and of the American Psychological Association (Division 5), and an elected member of the Society for Multivariate Experimental Psychology (SMEP).




Udaya DeSilva
Oklahoma State University

Udaya DeSilva is a Professor of Animal Molecular Genetics at Oklahoma State University. He received his BVSc. degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka and was a practicing large-animal veterinarian in rural Sri Lanka for four years before returning to graduate school. He subsequently received a MS degree in animal genetics from Kansas State University and a PhD in human molecular genetics from Washington University in St. Louis. After graduation, he worked for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia studying functional genomics of wool production before joining the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at Oklahoma State University in 2001. He also holds an affiliate position with the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. DeSilva’s research interests are in metagenomics of microorganisms that inhabit the gastrointestinal and reproductive tracts of domestic animals and functional genomics of adipogenesis in cattle. He teaches classes in genetics, biotechnology, and use of agricultural animals around the world. Dr. DeSilva has extensive international experience having lived, studied, or worked in Sri Lanka, India, Cuba, Australia, Mexico, and China. DeSilva held several leadership positions in faculty governance and is the recipient of multiple awards for teaching, research, and leadership at Oklahoma State University.




Cynthia Ebinger
Tulane University

Cynthia Ebinger is the Marshall-Heape Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Tulane University. Her research focuses on tectonic and volcanic processes occurring in rift zones, and their implications for earthquake and volcanic hazards, and for geothermal energy. She and her research team utilize satellite and geophysical data to image and model Earth's structure and state-of-stress, and to detect change associated with natural and anthropogenic processes. In the course of field and laboratory studies, she has worked with scientists in African and South American countries to address hazard and energy challenges and to build regional networks. Ebinger is Chair of the American Geophysical Union College of Fellows, a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, and she serves on the advisory board for the International Centre for Theoretical Physics - East African Institute for Fundamental Research geophysics program. Ebinger received an SM and PhD in marine geophysics from the M.I.T./Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program, and a BSc in marine geology from Duke University. She has served as Editor-in-Chief for Geophysical Journal International and Basin Research and as associate editor for Journal of Geophysical Research and Journal of African Research.




Ming Hu
University of Maryland

Ming Hu is an Associate Professor at the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, University of Maryland. Her research activities center on how to decarbonize the built environment through net zero impact and healthy building design, and to understand how the (smart) technologies might be employed to reduce the impact from built environment to ecosystem. She teaches technology courses that focus on the integration of architectural design with building system, materials, constructions and building performance assessment. Professor Hu has published in over sixty research papers, and has lectured widely in North America, Europe, and Asia. She was a visiting research fellow at the Tampere University in Finland as a Fulbright recipient (2020-21). Her first book, titled Net Zero Building: Predicated and Unintended Consequences, was released in April 2019 through Routledge. Her second book, Healthy Built Environment and Smart Technologies was published in September 2020. She is the board member of the Architecture Research Center Consortium (ARCC). She also served on the National Committee of the International Code Council and on the Maryland Green Building Council.




Akhlesh Lakhtakia
The Pennsylvania State University

Akhlesh Lakhtakia, Ph.D., D.Sc., is Evan Pugh University Professor and Charles Godfrey Binder Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics at The Pennsylvania State University. He has held visiting appointments at Universidad de Buenos Aires, University of Glasgow, University of Waikato, University of Otago, Imperial College London, Danmarks Tekniske Universitet, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, National Taipei University of Technology, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, and Indian Institute of Technology Varanasi. He has published 25 books, 33 book chapters, 900 journal papers, and 200 full papers in conference proceedings. Elected a fellow of AAAS, APS, IEEE, SPIE, Optica, RSC, RSA, and IoP for contributions to electrical engineering, optics, electromagnetics, physical chemistry, and applied arts, he is currently devoting his time to thin-film solar cells, forensic science, and biologically inspired design. He received the 2010 SPIE Technical Achievement Award, the 2016 Walston Chubb Award in Innovation, and the 2022 Smart Structures and Materials Lifetime Achievement Award. He was named as a Distinguished Alumnus by The University of Utah in 2007 and an Alumnus of the Century in Making Award by the Indian Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University, in 2019. He has been named a Distinguished Lecturer by Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society, for 2022-2024.




John Leslie
Kansas State University

By training, Professor Leslie is a fungal geneticist with a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1979) with experience as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University and as a research scientist in industry. He joined the faculty of Kansas State University in 1984 and is recognized as an expert in fungal systematics, plant pathology, international agriculture, and mycotoxicology, in addition to fungal genetics. A University Distinguished Professor at K-State and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, Australia, he was the first adjunct Professor in the College of Agriculture at Seoul National University and has twice been a visiting Professor at the National University of Rio Cuarto in Argentina. Awards received include membership in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, a Fulbright Senior Scholarship to Australia, and Fellow status from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Phytopathological Society and St. Paul’s College at the University of Sydney. Professor Leslie has extensive international travel and research experience and is accustomed and sensitive to the nuances required to make international collaborative research successful. With 25 years as part of the USAID-sponsored INTSORMIL-CRSP to start with, including 10 years with a buy-in from the USAID mission in Cairo, his lens on international agricultural research is broadly focused, clear, and discerning, with a long-term goal of increasing food safety and security. He uses Nominal Group conferences in this context to foster networking, empower stakeholders, and build teams across disciplines in both host country and international research contexts. With research focuses on plant disease-causing and toxin-producing fungi in the genus Fusarium, Professor Leslie's work has been published in a patent, seven books, and over 160 refereed journal articles that have been cited approximately 19,000 times. About half of these publications have international co-authors, and he has been heavily involved in EU mycotoxin research projects. Since 2000, he has organized and co-taught the Fusarium Laboratory Workshop annually in Kansas and in six other countries. The workshops are the best-recognized training workshop in plant pathology and mycology in the world with more than 700 participants from more than 70 countries. Most of Professor Leslie's professional service has been as an editor and reviewer. He served as an editorial board member for six different professional journals and as a Senior Editor for 10 years for Applied and Environmental Microbiology, for which he handled more than 2,500 manuscripts. His experience as an editor led to short courses in Scientific Writing and Research Ethics with more than 3,000 participants in 18 different countries. While Professor Leslie was Department Head for 9-plus years, his department was highly ranked for research. In 2013, based on National Research Council data, the website ranked the department No. 10 among Plant Science departments in the U.S. and No. 1 among Plant Pathology departments. In 2015, he transitioned to Interim Director of the USAID Feed the Future Laboratory for Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss, where he reorganized the management entity, developed and completed a $1.2 million buy-in from the USAID Mission in Kabul, and developed models for buy-ins from missions in Honduras and Nepal. Prof. Leslie conceived and leads the K-State Australia Initiative, a unique international university activity that has brought over $6 million in research funding to the university and includes a distinctive partnership with Fulbright Australia. K-State hosts a Distinguished Fulbright chair in Agriculture and Life Sciences for an eminent Australian researcher. Through the Oz-to-Oz program, K-State brings all faculty-level Australian Fulbrighters to K-State for a professional visit with colleagues on campus. This program was recognized for excellence by the IIE with a Heiskell award for leveraging the Fulbright program in a win-win manner.




Travis Marsico
Arkansas State University

Travis D. Marsico is a Professor of Botany in the Department of Biological Sciences at Arkansas State University (A-State), where he also is the Curator of the A-State Herbarium, the university’s natural history collection of plant specimens and associated data. Dr. Marsico received his B.S. in Biology from Arkansas Tech University, his M.S. in Biology from the University of Arkansas, and his Ph.D. in Biology with an emphasis in Ecology, Evolution, and the Environment from the University of Notre Dame. In 2021, Dr. Marsico was the inaugural winner of the Chancellor's Medal for Research and Creative Activities at A-State, the highest honor for a faculty member at the university. Dr. Marsico was the 2017-2018 recipient of the "You Made a Difference" Advisor Award from the A-State Wilson Advising Center, and he received the 2015-2016 Outstanding Graduate Faculty Mentor award, presented by the A-State Graduate Student Council. Since 2010, Dr. Marsico has received more than $8 million in funding to support students in scholarship programs and conduct research on the causes and consequences of plant and insect pest species invasions and plant diversity patterns in fragmented landscapes and along elevation gradients. His research sites have included natural and human-dominated landscapes in Arkansas, along the Mississippi River, on the Gulf Coast in Florida, in the Neotropics, and at industrial shipping ports. Dr. Marsico’s research emphasizes making and using natural history collections to answer important questions in ecology, evolution, and conservation. He also studies improvements to university-level education using specimen-based projects in coursework. He has been a faculty member at Arkansas State University for 13 years, where he teaches Collections Curation and Research Design, Dendrology, Global Change Biology, Plant Systematics, and Wetland Plant Ecology. He is fortunate to be married to the love of his life with whom he is raising two wonderful children.




Tim Mewes
University of Alabama

Tim Mewes is a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He received his undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees in physics from the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany. He subsequently was a post-doctoral researcher at the Ohio State University before joining the University of Alabama in 2005. His experimental and computational research has spanned a variety of topics in the field of condensed matter physics and material science. His research interests include material growth, magnetic materials, spintronics, and computational material research. His research has been nationally and internationally recognized. In 2010, Dr. Mewes received a National Science Foundation CAREER award for the investigation of the magnetization dynamics and damping in magnetic nanostructures. In 2011, he became a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at the National Institute for Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, and in 2014, he received the IBM Faculty Award. In 2020, he was named Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Magnetics Society.




Lourdes Norman-McKay
Florida State College at Jacksonville

Dr. Lourdes Norman-McKay is a professor at Florida State College Jacksonville, where peers and students recognized her with the Outstanding Faculty Award. After earning a degree in microbiology from the University of Florida, she completed a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology and a postdoctoral specialization in microbiology and immunology at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. As a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship awardee, she studied the role of viruses in cancer. In her nearly two decades as a scientist-educator, she has trained thousands of healthcare professionals and secured extensive federal funding to promote STEM education and empower underrepresented groups in STEM. In addition to authoring globally recognized, market-leading texts in microbiology with Pearson and Morton Publishing, her considerable STEM program development experience ranges from designing and launching a biomedical sciences baccalaureate program to serving as a curriculum designer and subject matter expert for the Florida Space Research Institute and Workforce Florida. Dr. Norman-McKay also currently serves as a section editor for the American Society for Microbiology's (ASM) Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education. As a speaker for the U.S. Department of State’s International Information Programs, Dr. Norman-McKay served in diplomacy outreach to empower women and youth in STEM, bolster STEM education, and build STEM capacity in Central Asia.




Sibel Oktay
University of Illinois, Springfield

Sibel Oktay is Associate Professor and Director of the School of Politics and International Affairs at the University of Illinois, Springfield and a Nonresident Senior Fellow of Public Opinion and Foreign Policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She holds a PhD in Political Science from Syracuse University. Oktay is a scholar of foreign policy analysis with regional interests in Europe, the U.S., and the Middle East. Her work investigates how domestic politics impact foreign policy, the effect of foreign policy on public opinion and voting behavior, and how leaders influence these relationships. Her research has been published in the Journal of European Public Policy, European Journal of Political Research, and European Security, among other outlets. She is the author of the book Governing Abroad: Coalition Politics and Foreign Policy in Europe (University of Michigan Press, 2022). A frequent media contributor, Oktay's commentary and analysis have been featured in The New York Times, The Hill, War On The Rocks, and the BBC's Turkey service as well as among other international news outlets in Turkey, Lebanon, Canada, the Netherlands, and Brazil. She serves on the editorial board of the journal International Studies Perspectives. She is 2021-2022 president of the Foreign Policy Analysis section of the International Studies Association and 2023 program co-chair in the Foreign Policy section of the American Political Science Association.




Mark Seielstad
University of California San Francisco

Mark Seielstad is Professor of Human Genetics; Epidemiology & Biostatistics; and Laboratory Medicine at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). He was educated at Stanford University, receiving simultaneous Bachelor’s degrees in Biological Sciences (with Honors) and Classics in 1992. From there, he went on to graduate studies at Harvard University, receiving a Ph.D. in Biology from Harvard University in 1998. Prior to his current position at the University of California, Professor Seielstad served on the faculties of Harvard University's School of Public Health and the National University of Singapore. From 2002–2009, he led the Human Genetics group at the Genome Institute of Singapore. Dr. Seielstad’s expertise is in genomics and his research program is at the interface of genetic epidemiology and population/anthropological genetics. The main goal is to identify human genetic variation altering the risk of complex human diseases involving immunity (e.g., autoimmunity and susceptibility to infectious diseases) and metabolism (e.g., type 2 diabetes). This puts an emphasis on genomic technologies such as genome-wide SNP genotyping, and next-generation sequencing to reveal and characterize polymorphisms in whole exome and whole genome data. Much of this work is carried out in geographically diverse human populations, which are also the subject of anthropological investigations that seek to characterize the global distribution of genetic variation. In 2019–2020, Dr. Seielstad held a Senior Fulbright Fellowship at the Academia Sinica in Taiwan; and has active research projects in the Philippines.




Naresh Thadhani
Georgia Institute of Technology

Naresh Thadhani is Professor and former Chair of the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He received his B.E. from the Malaviya National Institute of Technology in Jaipur, India; M.S. from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and Ph.D. from New Mexico Tech, all in metallurgical engineering. He is internationally recognized for his research focusing on the fundamental mechanisms of shock-induced physical, chemical, and mechanical changes under high-pressure shock-compression, and the deformation and fracture response of materials subjected to high-velocity impact and high-strain-rate loading. He has led significant advancements in the understanding of shock-induced phase transformations and mechanical properties of metallic glasses and alloys (including steels); design, development, and characterization of structural energetic materials; and the shock-compression response of highly heterogeneous (granular) materials. His work has combined experimental studies employing meso-scale spatial and nano-second resolution temporal diagnostics and meso-scale computational simulations. Naresh has served or is serving on review boards including the National Academy of Sciences panel at the Army Research Laboratory, and academic program review panels and external advisory Boards of Materials Science and Engineering programs at various universities. He is a recipient of the TMS Leadership award, and a Fellow of both the ASM International and the American Physical Society, and an elected Academician of the Euro-Mediterranean Academy of Arts and Sciences.