NEON's Ambassador Program is envisioned to empower and connect researchers and educators who are eager to engage with their communities. They will help their communities use NEON to accelerate scientific discovery, enhance educational opportunities, increase diversity and inclusion of the scientific community, and/or inform public policy.
The inaugural cohort of NEON Ambassadors will contribute to a community-driven design for the new program. A series of virtual workshops professionally facilitated by the creative folks at Knowinnovation is planned for Fall 2021. The co-created projects and teams emerging from the workshops will then pilot these efforts starting in Spring 2022.
The first group of 19 Ambassadors is a fantastic selection of applicants of people from all backgrounds, expertise, career stages, and professions – learn a bit about them below!
Postdoctoral Fellow – NEON
Aho is currently a postdoctoral fellow at NEON after receiving her PhD from Yale University earlier in 2021. She initially became interested in the environment as a field technician for the US Forest Service in the Tongass National Forest, where she conducted biological surveys before timber sales. In her PhD program at Yale, she examined greenhouse gas emissions from streams and rivers in the Connecticut River Watershed and enjoyed collaborating widely and mentoring students. At NEON, Aho is working with the dissolved gas dataset to examine biogeochemical controls on greenhouse gas emissions from inland waters at the continental scale.
Research Biologist - USDA Forest Service, Savannah River Site
Atkins is a research biologist for the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station at the Savannah River Site. He received his PhD in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia in 2016. Following that, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he worked on an NSF-funded EAGER-NEON project collecting data at NEON sites to assess continental-scale canopy structural complexity and its connection with ecosystem function(s). From 2020 to 2021, Atkins held appointments at the University of Virginia and the Social Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) in Annapolis, MD.
Director – USA National Phenology Network
Crimmins is currently the Director of the USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) and a research professor in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona (UA). She has been in various staff and scientist roles at the UA since 2006, and her research has resulted in \>40 peer-reviewed publications, numerous other peer-reviewed reports and information products, and multiple collaborations. In recent years, Crimmins has been writing for the general public and has been published in The Conversation, Scientific American, The Hill, and more. She also is involved in the USGS Community for Data Integration COP and the Ecological Forecasting Initiative's phenology forecasting COP.
Professor – University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Elmore works broadly across issues relevant to global environmental change, with a particular focus on landscape ecology, biogeochemical cycling in watersheds, and the management of land and water in pursuit of multiple sustainability outcomes. He applies an array of tools in his work including remote sensing data analysis and GIS. In 2006, Elmore joined the faculty at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Appalachian Laboratory, where he is now a professor. He is also the PI of the NSF award that led to the forming of the Landscape Exchange Network (LENS), focused on the use of NEON AOP data for socio-environmental systems research, with a goal to make state of the art remote sensing data more available to a wider array of ecologists.
Professor and Chair of Atmospheric Sciences – University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fochesatto is the chair and professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He specializes in micrometeorology of Arctic and subarctic ecosystems and the physics of the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL), tropospheric remote sensing, surface layer turbulence, and turbulent fluxes. He focuses on extreme ABL and in surface-atmospheric interaction in arctic tundra, boreal forest, and glaciers. Prior to 2005, he was a postdoc at the University of Waterloo in the department of chemical physics. Before moving to Canada, Fochesatto was a research scientist in the National Research Council of Argentina, and previously earned his PhD in the Laboratory of Dynamic Meteorology in the Ecole Polytechnique, France. He is also the co-Editor in Chief of the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology.
Director of James San Jacinto Mountains and Oasis de los Osos Reserves - University of California Riverside
Jennifer Gee (PhD, Princeton University) has served since 2012 as the Director of the James San Jacinto Mountains and Oasis de los Osos Reserves, field research stations that are a part of the University of California Natural Reserve System and the University of California, Riverside. She is an evolutionary biologist who conducts research on speciation in New World quail, which she has blogged about as a Scientist at Work for The New York Times. Her professional writing documents the natural world under shifting natural and artificial ecological conditions. It includes scientific articles that are published in such journals as Evolution, the American Naturalist, the Journal of Animal Ecology and Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Birds of North America and Birds of the World, and a forthcoming book that she helped edit called "Women of the wild: Challenging gender disparities in remote field stations and marine laboratories."
Professor of Global Change Biology – University of Illinois at Chicago
Gonzalez-Meler's areas of research are in the domains of ecosystem ecology, plant physiology, and stable isotope ecology. He studies the impacts of atmospheric drivers of climate change on urban, natural, and managed ecosystems and the atmospheric feedbacks resulting from these responses. Currently he is also doing research on improving educational and science experiences to PEER (persons excluded because of ethnicity and race) students. With funding from NSF-EHR, he and colleagues recruited and trained 18 students from MSIs to an expedition to the Canadian Arctic Archipelago to study the biogeochemistry, ecology, physical oceanography, and human social aspects of a changing Arctic. The documentary "Frozen Obsession" (2021) reported the experience and findings.
Postdoctoral researcher – Northern Arizona University
Hakkenberg is a third-year postdoctoral researcher in the Global Earth Observations and Dynamics of Ecosystems Lab in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems (SICCS) at Northern Arizona University (NAU). After earning a PhD in Ecology in 2017 from UNC-Chapel Hill, where he was supported as a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellow, he was a Rice Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at Rice University. He has worked internationally for environmental NGOs and consultancies in research and advisory capacities. Hakkenberg's current research relies on the integration of field and remotely-sensed data to examine global forest community dynamics including drivers of biodiversity, landscape forest structure, and ecosystem response to global change.
Jennifer R Honda
Assistant Professor – National Jewish Health
Honda received her PhD in Microbiology from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in 2010. Currently, she is a basic science and translational microbiologist and assistant professor in the Center for Genes, Environment, and Health and the Department of Immunology and Genomic Research at National Jewish Health, an internationally recognized institution in Denver in the diagnosis and care of patients with environmentally acquired nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) pulmonary infections. As a PI or Co-I on several successful institutional, foundational, and NSF-funded programs, Honda's lab investigates the interrelated environmental, host, and NTM factors that drive the emergence of NTM pulmonary disease in geographic hot spots to better understand disease emergence in high risk U.S. geographic areas.
Assistant Professor – Virginia Commonwealth University
Hulshof is an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. She received her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona. Subsequently, she was faculty at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, but after losing her research program to Hurricane Maria, she moved to VCU. Hulshof was inspired by the city of Richmond's environmentally conscious and creative vibe to create a startup and think tank – ecoCode – to train marginalized groups in environmental data science. This work is supported by her recent NSF CAREER award. The research will also establish Proyecto ALTA: Altitudinal Transects across the Americas to use biodiversity monitoring and technology to understand changes in forest composition and structure at macroecological scales.
Project Scientist – National Center for Atmospheric Research
Lombardozzi splits her time as a project scientist in the Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory and in the Education and Outreach Program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. She is also an associate scientist at the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado-Boulder. She has worked on a variety of research topics including how ground-level ozone pollution changes carbon and water cycling, how agricultural management practices impact climate, and how variability in carbon cycling can mask the impacts of climate change. Lombardozzi currently serves as the Chair of the Community Land Model Agriculture Model Working Group and cofounded the International Ozone Bioindicator Garden Network.
CEO – Planetary Emissions Management Inc.
Marino is the CEO of Planetary Emissions Management Inc. (PEM), having worked in the private sector since 1991 when he received a PhD in Earth and Planetary Science from Harvard as a NASA GIS Fellow. He was Director of Science and Research at Biosphere 2, Tucson, AZ and subsequently was a research associate at Harvard. PEM is part of a now rapidly expanding industry sector around carbon trading. In this field, Marino has endeavored to bring science to commerce, as developers of methods that while science-based are economically viable with verified planetary benefits.
Postdoctoral Researcher – Virginia Tech
McClure is currently a postdoc with Virginia Tech, soon transferring to a postdoc with Washington State University. He defended his PhD in August of 2020 and has been working as a postdoc with Cayelan Carey and Quinn Thomas from September 2020 to date. Some of McClure's career highlights include designing forecasting workflows for six of the seven NEON lake sites and co-developing the NEON aquatics forecasting challenge with Quinn Thomas.
Research Scientist – University of Colorado Boulder
Nagy is a research scientist and Program Manager for Earth Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder. In her research, she uses a combination of geospatial analysis, remote sensing, ecosystem modeling, and field studies. Nagy's recent research has included the consequences of interacting disturbances such as changing fire regimes and species invasions for ecosystem carbon storage. A new project aims to understand how forest structural and functional diversity relate to resistance to invasion using data from forested NEON sites across the U.S. Nagy is also the founder of the North Central Regional Invasive Species and Climate Change (RISCC) Management Network that brings together researchers, natural resource managers, policy makers, and other stakeholders to work on these complex issues.
Professor of Neuroscience and Public Policy – George Mason University
Jim Olds is a professor of Neuroscience and Public Policy at George Mason University. He served from 2014-2018 as head of the Biological Sciences Directorate at the U.S. National Science Foundation. Olds' former directorate funds the majority of non-biomedical life sciences research at America's research institutions. While there, he was also NSF lead for President Obama's White House BRAIN project, deputy lead for NSF on then Vice President Biden's Cancer Moonshot, and co-chaired the White House Life Sciences Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council. Prior to his time at NSF, Olds was the 10th editor of the Biological Bulletin, Director of George Mason University's Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, Chair of the Molecular Neuroscience Department, and the Shelley Krasnow University Professor of Molecular Neuroscience.
Regents' Professor – Northern Arizona University
Richardson was on the faculty at Harvard in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, prior to being at Northern Arizona University. He was a postdoc at the University of New Hampshire and earned his PhD from Yale's School of Forestry & Environmental Studies in 2003. His undergraduate degree from Princeton was in Economics, which he says has served him well and set him on a career path where much of his work uses observational/empirical data to test and improve predictive models. Richardson established the PhenoCam network in 2008 and has been co-PI of the Bartlett (NH) Experimental Forest AmeriFlux tower since 2003. From his participation in AmeriFlux, he learned early the value of making data open and freely available for other researchers to use.
Professor – Northern Arizona University
As Director of Northern Arizona University's School of Informatics Computing and Cyber Systems, Ruddell helps lead a team of roughly 100 faculty and students focused on environmental informatics research. He has been affiliated with synthetic and team science during his career via partnerships with NEON, LTER (CAP), CUAHSI, SESYNC, NCEAS, and others.
Assistant Professor – University of Alabama
Shogren's training is in the ecology of rivers and their networks. She received her PhD in Biological Sciences from The University of Notre Dame funded as an Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results (EPA-STAR) Fellow. After her doctorate, she was a postdoc researcher at Michigan State University in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and was awarded a National Science Foundation Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship in Biology for Broadening Participation of Groups Underrepresented in STEM. In addition to academic pursuits, Shogren is passionate about making science a more diverse and equitable space; increasing the accessibility and accuracy of scientific information on open-access platforms like Wikipedia; and merging her interests in science and art to communicate the importance of freshwater resources to the public.
Associate Director of Academic Affairs – Arkansas Division of Higher Education
In his current role with the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, Walker oversees all academic programs within the state of Arkansas. He has over 18 years of experience in academia. He has mentored numerous, diverse student populations, as well as used data-driven models to mentor students in developing successful academic programs. In his role as chairperson/associate dean of Electrical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science at Jackson State University – which are ABET accredited programs – Walker manages the MS in Computer Science and the PhD program in Computational and Data-Enabled Science & Engineering or Data Science. He also integrated industry-based certifications in both the undergraduate, and graduate programs, which include career competencies, skills in data science, cybersecurity, and data engineering.