Indige-FEWSS Trainees

Sarah Abney, PhD candidate | Environmental Sciences
Advisor: Charles Gerba & Kelly Reynolds
2020 Cohort
University email: seabney@email.arizona.edu

Born in Jamaica and raised in Georgia, USA, seeing the world through bi-racial and multi-cultural lenses influenced career pursuits to find connections between the common threads of life and science. My research focuses include water quality management, water microbiology and water virology - specifically in drinking waters and treated waste-waters. The overarching goal is to serve at the nexus of water-management, public health and policy. My passion is to create more diverse avenues for water (food and energy) access in underserved communities throughout the world while simultaneously respecting cultural practices & needs.

Pronouns: She/Her

 

Michael Anderson, PhD candidate | Materials Science & Engineering 
Advisor: Erin Ratcliff
2018 Cohort
University email: michaelanderson@email.arizona.edu

Michael is researching structure-property relationships, degradation mechanisms, and building-integration of organic photovoltaic materials. Advised by Dr. Erin Ratcliff, he designed and works in the Laboratory for Interface Science of Printable Electronic Materials at the University and frequently travels for research to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in Golden CO and Menlo Park CA, respectively. He grew up in WA and received B.S. degrees in Physics and Applied Mathematics from Washington State University in 2018.

 

Marquel Begay, PhD candidate | School of Natural Resources and Environment
Advisor: Elise Gornish
2018 Cohort
University email: mabegay@email.arizona.edu
Website: https://marquel012.wixsite.com/

 

William Borkman, MS candidate | School of Natural Resources and the Environment
Advisor: Mark Brusseau
2020 Cohort
University email: wborkan@email.arizona.edu

William Borkan is a first year Master’s student in the Department of Environmental Science at the University of Arizona. He works in the Contaminant Transport Lab with Dr. Brusseau and Dr. Araujo, studying uranium transport through fractured rock cores. Prior to signing up for graduate school, William worked for ten years as a field archaeologist in the Great Plains, Pacific Northwest, and Southwest before “retiring” last fall to pursue a degree in soil and water science. William grew up in Flagstaff, and is interested in studying the transport and fate of heavy metal contaminants that are so prevalent in the soil and groundwater of Northern Arizona. He aspires to use his skills gained through the Indige-FEWSS program to begin a new career with the Navajo EPA.

 

Kyle Boyer, PhD candidate | Electrical and Computer Engineering
Advisor: Kelly Simmons-Potter
2018 Cohort
University email: kairu@email.arizona.edu

Kyle is a PhD student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Arizona. His research focuses on modeling the degradation of renewable energy systems.

 

Ailyn Brizo, MS candidate | Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Advisor: Visiliki Karanikola
2020 Cohort
University email: abrizo@email.arizona.edu

Ailyn graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelors in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2018. After that, she served with the Peace Corps in Panama as a Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene volunteer working to improve rural aqueduct systems in a small indigenous village. Her research interests include off-grid water treatment and nanofiltration. She is pursuing a Master’s of Science in Environmental Engineering.
 

 

Manuelito Chief, MS candidate | Electrical and Computer Engineering
Advisor: Kelly Simmons-Potter
2018 Cohort
University email: manuelitochief@email.arizona.edu

"I'm a member of the Navajo Nation and I am from Window Rock, AZ. I completed my bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering with a specialization in Power and Energy at the University of Denver. I am pursuing my masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering. My current research focuses on studying degradation rates for organic photovoltaics (OPV). This study gives valuable insight in predicting the performance of OPV modules."

 

Mark Clytus, PhD candidate | American Indian Studies
Advisor: Mary Jo Tippiconnic Fox
2018 Cohort
University email: mclytus@email.arizona.edu

"Yá'át'ééh (Hello) I am Mark Clytus, I am married to beautiful Dine’ (Navajo) woman with four kids, I am a first-generation PhD student studying American Indian Studies, with an emphasis in Indigenous STEM Engineering Education Curriculum in Higher Education/Natural Resource Management and Policy at the University of Arizona. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering (Oklahoma State University) and earned two master’s degrees in Information Technology Management (Colorado Technical University) and Environmental Science (University of Idaho). I worked as an professional engineer and as an IT consultant doing project management on a variety of engineering/IT technology projects for the Federal government (Dept. of Commerce MBDA, Dept. of the Air Force and Army, USGS), State of Arizona Department of Liquor License and Control, Boeing, Tribal governments (Navajo Nation and Spokane Tribe), and in Academia (University of Idaho, Washington State University and Oklahoma State University). I have certification in technology transfer management funded by the Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) to promote technology transfer between academia, government agencies and private industries. As a future PhD recipient, I will work to produce economic development opportunities in an environmentally sustainable conscious market for Indigenous communities and I will work in going into administration in higher education to develop culturally relevant and empowering STEM curriculum for higher education institutions, as well as enhance educational academic outreach opportunities for underrepresented, low income, and first-generation students through STEM programs."

 

Jaymus Lee, MS candidate | Biosystems Engineering
Advisor: Murat Kacira
2020 Cohort
University email: jaymuslee@email.arizona.edu

Jaymus Lee comes from the Diné Nation he is Bilagáana (White People) born for Bít’ahnii (Folded Arms People) whose family comes from Teec Nos Pos, Arizona. Born in New Mexico and raised in Arizona he graduated from Chandler High School. After graduation he served a full-time two year church mission in El Salvador. He graduated from Fort Lewis College with a Bachelor’s of Science in Cellular & Molecular Biology. He is currently at the University of Arizona in the Applied Bioscience Professional Science Masters in Controlled Environment Agriculture program. He is currently involved in vertical farming and greenhouse design projects under his advisor Dr. Murat Kacira, Department of Biosystems Engineering. He would like to further study the role of controlled environment systems in tribal lands to address issues in the food-energy-water nexus and food sovereignty. Interesting things to know: he loves to play volleyball and travel, enjoys movies especially Sci-Fi, has a desert tortoise named Turtle, and would eat Chipotle everyday if he could afford it!

 

Ciara Lugo, PhD candidate | Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Advisor: Kerri Hickenbottom
2020 Cohort
University email: ciara8567@email.arizona.edu

Ciara Avelina Lugo is pursuing a PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Arizona (U of A). She grew up in Nogales, Arizona, and completed a B.S. in chemical engineering with a minor in mathematics at the U of A. She has participated in two research education for undergrad (REU) programs - one at the U of A and the other at Colorado School of Mines. Her experience in these programs focused on water treatment through bacterially activated filtration systems and membrane distillation, and analytical techniques in ultraviolet spectroscopy, total organic carbon concentrations, excitation emission matrix, and liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy. Her research focuses on osmotically-driven membrane processes for medical and food applications. Her research goes hand-in-hand with her NSF fellowship – Indige-FEWSS – which focuses on the food-energy-water nexus in indigenous communities.  In her spare time, Ciara plays the guitarrón in the U of A Mariachi, Mariachi Arizona, enjoys doing yoga, and volunteering for social justice organizations.

 

Abolhassan Mohammadi Fathabad, PhD candidate | Systems and Industrial Engineering
Advisor: Jianqiang Cheng
2019 Cohort
University email: amohammadi@email.arizona.edu

Abolhassan received the B.S. degree from the industrial engineering Department, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran, in 2016. He is currently working toward the Ph.D. degree in systems and industrial engineer ing at the University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. His research interests are data-driven optimization, operations management under uncertainty, power systems planning, and renewable energy integration.

 

Marisa Gonzalez, PhD candidate | Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Advisor: Armin Sorooshian
2018 Cohort
University email: gzmarisa@email.arizona.edu

 

JoRee LaFrance, PhD candidate | Environmental Sciences
Advisor: Jon Chorover
2018 Cohort
University email: joreevlafrance@email.arizona.edu

JoRee LaFrance comes from the Apsáalooke Nation and was born and raised on the Crow reservation in southeastern Montana. Her Apsáalooke name is Iichiinmáatchilash/Fortunate with Horses and she is Greasy Mouth clan and a child of Ties in the Bundle clan. She currently resides in Tucson, Arizona as a third-year PhD student at the University of Arizona in the Department of Environmental Sciences. JoRee's research aims to understand the concentration-discharge relationship in the Little Bighorn River and those impacts on the Indige-FEWSS nexus and tribal water uses on her reservation. 

 

Adrianna Nicolay, MS candidate | Water, Society, and Policy
Advisor: Gregg Garfin
2019 Cohort
University email: alnicolay@email.arizona.edu

I am Diné graduate student from Shiprock, NM working toward a MS in Water, Society, and Policy. I received my BA in Environmental Science from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. My passions and academic efforts center Indigenous community-led organizing and collaboration to address community needs and secure Indigenous futures.

 

Ruth Pannill, MS candidate | School of Natural Resources and the Environment
Advisor: Valerie Shirley & Elizabeth Baldwin
2020 Cohort
University email: vruthp@email.arizona.edu

Research surrounding STEM education and youth engagement. I am passionate about this work because I believe in the power of community-led problem solving, as well as the power of young people to challenge and expand our minds. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to learn from Indigenous communities, as well as learning more about community driven solutions to water scarcity, energy access, and food deserts.

 

Amy Pierce, MS candidate | Biosystems Engineering
Advisor: Murat Kacira
2020 Cohort
University email: alpierce@email.arizona.edu

"As a Biosystems Engineer, my goal is to use Controlled Environment Agriculture to promote health and sovereignty in socioeconomically vulnerable communities. As an Indige-FEWSS trainee, I maximize off-grid crop production of renewable energy supplied greenhouses to improve financial autonomy and access to fresh food within indigenous communities."

 

Anna Rich, PhD candidate | Chemistry & Biochemistry
Advisor: Erin Ratcliff
2020 Cohort
University email: annarich@email.arizona.edu

"I am from Kijabe, Kenya, I received a B.S in Chemistry from Appalachian State University and am now pursuing my PhD in analytical chemistry at the University of Arizona! I am very passionate about applying STEM solutions to real world problems. I am doing the Indige-FEWSS program because it allows me to combine my passion for scientific exploration with my multicultural background."

 

Alexandra Trahan, MS candidate | Environmental Sciences
Advisor: Monica Ramirez-Andreotta
2020 Cohort
University email: alexandratrahan@email.arizona.edu

"I am a master’s student in the Department of Environmental Science advised by Dr. Mónica Ramírez-Andreotta. I am honored to be a part of the Indige-FEWSS cohort because I believe mentorship, cultural immersion, professional development, and research in areas that will bring positive solutions to humans and the earth are all very important to finding a lasting-holistic solution for everyone. I hope to work alongside indigenous communities to learn from the wealth of traditional wisdom and practices and to know more about the history and belovedness of the land and its many systems. Currently, my research project is trying to address community concerns in regards to environmental health issues posed by soil and dust that come from living by legacy, active, and proposed mines."

 

Charlène Tramoni, PhD candidate | American Indian Studies
Advisor: Benedict Colombi
2019 Cohort
University email: tramoni@email.arizona.edu

 

Nikki Tulley, PhD candidate | Environmental Sciences
Advisor: Sharon Megdal
2018 Cohort
University email: nikkitulley@email.arizona.edu

Nikki Tulley is a member of the Navajo Nation. She is a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Environmental Science with a concentration in Hydroscience at the University of Arizona. Her research focuses on ensuring that people living in Indigenous communities have access to clean drinking water to sustain their way of life in an ever-changing environment through sustainable practices and water policies and management. She is an Alfred P. Sloan 2018-2021 Scholar, American Indian Graduate Center Fellow, and an American Indian Science and Engineering Society Sequoyah Fellow. Nikki received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Science and a Master of Science Degree in Water Resources from the University of New Mexico.

Featured Articles:
Field Snapshot: Tackling 21st Century Sustainability Challenges on the Navajo Nation
Current Projects:
“The Haury Water Hub”

 

Rebekah Waller, PhD candidate | Biosystems Engineering
Advisor: Murat Kacira
2018 Cohort
University email: rebekahewaller@email.arizona.edu

Rebekah is a PhD candidate in Biosystems Engineering and a graduate researcher at the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center in Tucson. Her PhD advisor is Dr. Murat Kacira. Her doctoral research evaluates the technical feasibility of integrating flexible, semi-transparent organic photovoltaic (OPV) technologies with greenhouse systems, with the overarching goal of increasing the sustainability and accessibility of greenhouse agriculture. Rebekah is the recipient of the 2021 Marshall Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, 2020 Carson Scholars Program Fellowship, and held a traineeship with the Indige-FEWSS program from 2018 to 2020. Rebekah also serves as the Secretary of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Design Standards (CEADS) organization, a 501(c)(3) non-profit working to develop industry standards and best practices for the design and operation of resilient controlled environment agriculture enterprises. 

 

Frances Willberg, PhD candidate | Electrical and Computer Engineering
Advisor: Kelly Simmons-Potter
2020 Cohort
University email: franceswillberg@email.arizona.edu

"I am a PhD student in Dr. Kelly Simmons-Potter’s laboratory, primarily studying the impact of climate-induced degradation of photovoltaics on the accuracy of electric power prediction models. I have lived all over the country and internationally, but I consider Tucson to be my hometown. I graduated from the UA with my Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2019, and I am excited to continue my education here as an Indige-FEWSS trainee."

 

Christopher Yazzie, PhD Candidate | Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Advisor: Vasiliki Karanikola
2018 Cohort
University email: cbyazzie@email.arizona.edu

Christopher Brian Yazzie is a member of the Navajo Nation, from the community of Tuba City, Arizona. He is currently working on a PhD in Environmental Engineering. His research focuses on the removal of uranium from groundwater by membrane filtration and electrochemical processes. He has previous water resource work experience with tribal, county and state agencies. Chris is currently a mentor in the USDA-NIFA "Bridge in STEAM" program, which prepares tribal college students for graduate school. Apart from the PhD life, Chris loves listening to music and spending time with his family.

 

Indige-FEWSS Trainee Alumni

Quentin Benally, MS | Biosystems Engineering
Advisor: Murat Kacira

 

Caitlyn Leo, MS | Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Advisor: Kimberly Ogden

 

Doug Morrison, JD | Geography and Information Systems
Advisor: Carl Bauer

 

Traineeship Checklist

Trainees keep track of deliverables and keep organized with this checklist. 

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Trainee Duties & Responsibilities

Understand the NSF-NRT Indige-FEWSS Trainee duties and responsibilities as well as the timeline for the program. 

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Traineeship: FAQ

Learn more about funding, arrival on campus, training, advising, course requirements and more.

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